It has been 7 years and 4 months since the last Prime Ministerial visit to Yasukuni Shrine (a symbol of Japan's past militarism – which appears to be resurrecting); but in what China describes as an act that is "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people," current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid tribute to the war dead today. The strong reaction was met with a rapid 'apology' of sorts as Abe stated officially, "I am aware that, because of misunderstandings, some people criticise a visit to Yasukuni shrine as an act of worshipping war criminals… [but] I have no intention at all to hurt the feelings of Chinese or South Korean people."
In the past… (via Reuters)
China and South Korea have repeatedly expressed anger in the past over Japanese politicians' visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honored along with war dead.
The shrine is seen in parts of Asia as a symbol of Japanese past militarism.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday his visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was a pledge that Japan would not go to war again and was not intended to hurt Chinese or South Koreans.
"I chose this day to report (to enshrined spirits) what we have done in the year since the administration launched and to pledge and determine that never again will people suffer in war," he told reporters at the shrine.
"I am aware that, because of misunderstandings, some people criticise a visit to Yasukuni shrine as an act of worshipping war criminals, but I made my visit to pledge to create an era where people will never suffer from catastrophe in war," Abe said.
"I have no intention at all to hurt the feelings of Chinese or South Korean people."
And The Chinese response…
Chinese foreign ministry Asian affairs dept head: Yasukuni visit "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people" pic.twitter.com/c3skU6FnTn
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) December 26, 2013
And the consequences…
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Abe Yasukuni visit: "The Japanese side must bear all consequences." #uhoh
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) December 26, 2013