Yasukuni visit unlikely for Abe, at least for now

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Yasukuni visit unlikely for Abe, at least for now

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is unlikely to visit Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, seen in much of Asia as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II to avoid upsetting China and South Korea, Japanese media reported yesterday.

Abe, who cemented his grip on power in an upper house election on Sunday, has taken a tough stance with China in a territorial row over tiny islands. But he has also said that his door is open to dialogue with Beijing and has sought to mend ties with Seoul.

“The prime minister will make a wise decision [about the shrine visit]. It would be a different story if [his government] had a short future ahead, but he has three years,” one source close to Abe was quoted as saying by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. “The time will come for him to fulfill his will.”

Another government source was quoted as telling the daily, “August is not the time for a visit.”

Whether Abe will visit the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are among those honored, is seen as a key to gauging how he intends to proceed on the touchy topic of wartime history.

A pilgrimage to the shrine would outrage China and Korea, where bitter memories of Japan’s past militarism run deep, and upset Washington, which fears a further fraying of Tokyo’s already fraught relations with its neighbors.

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