Abe calls off Yasukuni spring visit

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Abe calls off Yasukuni spring visit

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo decided not to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo that honors Japanese war criminals, an apparent move to restore relations with Beijing and Seoul ahead of an upcoming trilateral summit.

Kyodo News reported yesterday that the prime minister “has been determined to postpone paying respects at the Yasukuni Shrine during the spring festival,” which falls between April 21 and 23.

Instead, Abe is considering sending a potted ceremonial tree called masakaki to mark the festival, the report said, quoted several aides to the prime minister.

The Japanese government “is planning a trilateral meeting among Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul at the end of May,” the report said.

Still, the report said there is a possibility that Abe could visit the shrine in the fall or on the anniversary of the end of World War II.

In October 2012, Abe and a group of senior government officials and lawmakers visited the shrine and offered prayers to the dead. That sparked condemnations from Seoul and Beijing.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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