Kishida sends flower wreath to controversial Yasukuni Shrine

Tokyo, Apr 21 (EFE).- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a floral offering Thursday to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a source of friction with neighboring countries due to its military ties, in what has already become a common practice among the country’s leaders.

As on other occasions, the offering consisted of sending a “masakaki” tree in his name as head of government, a gesture Japanese prime ministers have been repeating for years for the spring and autumn festivals and which China and South Korea view with disapproval.

Yasukuni honors those killed by Japan between the end of the 19th century and 1945, more than 2.4 million people, including 14 politicians and imperial army officers convicted as class A war criminals after World War II.

No acting Japanese head of government has visited the shrine again after Shinzo Abe in December 2013, sparking criticism at home and abroad that prompted the offerings to be sent thereafter.

China and South Korea, countries that suffered military aggression from Japan, have expressed their complaints about the tributes in Yasukuni due to old open wounds from colonialism.

It is the second such offering sent by Kishida, after the one made in mid-October shortly after taking office.

The prime minister is expected to avoid visiting the shrine, especially after expressing his desire to improve ties with Seoul under President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol (who will take office in May), after several years of slights due to open disputes over past colonial rule.

Japan and China are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. These remain fragile, mainly because of their territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, which they call Diaoyu.

While prime ministers have refrained from visiting Yasukuni, it is common for groups of parliamentarians to visit the shrine on these dates, including some ministers or prominent political figures. This happened Thursday with Sanae Takaichi, current chief of politics of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a contender in the last Japanese general election. EFE


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