Abe sends an offering to Yasukuni

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Abe sends an offering to Yasukuni

Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday expressed concern that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals.

Abe sent a masakaki ceremonial tree to the shrine in Tokyo earlier that day in his capacity as prime minister to mark the first day of an annual spring festival.

Yasukuni, which enshrines 14 World War II Class A criminals, is seen by Korea and China, victims of Japan’s wartime aggression, as a symbol of its past imperialism and history of invasion.

“Our government cannot help but express concern that Prime Minister Abe has once again sent an offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines war criminals and glorifies Japan’s past colonization and war of aggression,” said Cho June-hyuck, the Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a briefing.

“The Japanese government needs to demonstrate through action sincere remorse based on a correct recognition of history in order to advance Korea-Japan relations in a future-oriented direction,” he said.

Abe is not expected to visit the shrine in person.

Kyodo News reported that the Japanese government wants to avoid angering neighboring countries, as well as the United States, before Japan hosts a Group of Seven, or G-7, leaders summit in May, citing government sources.

Abe visited the shrine in December 2013, which drew a backlash from not only Seoul and Beijing but from Washington as well.

The prime minister has sent similar offerings in past spring and fall festivals, but has not made a repeat visit since.

Seiichi Eto, a lawmaker of the upper house of the Japanese Diet and a special adviser to Abe, visited the shrine on the same day.

A group of Japanese lawmakers is expected to pay respects at Yasukuni on Friday. It is not clear if any of Abe’s cabinet members will visit during the spring festival.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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