Korea lodges protest over Inada’s visit to Yasukuni

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Korea lodges protest over Inada’s visit to Yasukuni

The Korean government lodged a formal protest against Tokyo on Thursday after Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors World War II war criminals.

“It is deplorable that a responsible Japanese politician paid respect at the Yasukuni Shrine,” the Korean Foreign Ministry said through a statement, “which glorifies Japan’s colonial invasion and war of aggressions and enshrines war criminals.”

The previous day marked the one-year anniversary of the bilateral agreement of Dec. 28, 2015, in which the Japanese prime minister apologized to the victims of the Imperial Japanese Army’s wartime sexual enslavement of young women.

“Our government once again points out that Japan will be able to gain the trust of its neighbors and the international community,” said Cho June-hyuck, spokesman of the ministry, “only when Japanese leaders look squarely at history and show through action humble introspection and sincere repentance.”

Chung Byung-won, director general of the ministry’s Northeast Asia Affairs Bureau, summoned Kohei Maruyama, a minister at the Japanese Embassy in Korea, to the government complex in central Seoul and lodged a formal protest.

The hawkish new defense chief’s Yasukuni pilgrimage also followed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historic visit to Pearl Harbor on Tuesday, accompanied by Inada, who was named new defense chief in August.

Abe met with U.S. President Barack Obama to commemorate the victims of Japanese aggression and offer condolences for those who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which led to the United States entering World War II.

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

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