Yasukuni Visits by Japan Ministers May Resume after Over 2 Yrs

Politics

Tokyo, Oct. 9 (Jiji Press)--Since conservatives close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined his cabinet in a reshuffle last month, speculation has spread that visits to war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo by cabinet ministers may resume after a halt of two and a half years.

Before an autumn festival starts at the shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals along with the war dead, on Oct. 17, some within the Japanese political world are voicing concerns that any ministerial Yasukuni visit on the occasion may trigger backlashes from China and South Korea. The two Asian neighbors regard the shrine as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Whether cabinet ministers should visit Yasukuni "is an issue about an individual's freedom of religion, something the government should not dig into," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Akihiro Nishimura told a press conference on Tuesday.

After his comeback as prime minister in 2012, Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine in December 2013. He has not visited the shrine since then and has instead made "masakaki" ritual offerings for spring and autumn festivals.

No cabinet minister has visited the shrine since Sanae Takaichi, then internal affairs minister, did so in spring 2017.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press