Suga sends wreath to controversial Tokyo shrine, avoids visiting

Tokyo, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sent a wreath to the controversial Yasukuni shrine Wednesday in Tokyo, which neighboring countries associate with the country’s militaristic and colonial past, but avoided visiting it in person.

The prime minister made the offering within the framework of the biannual festival that the shrine celebrates in spring and autumn in tribute to the memory of the Japanese fallen in military conflicts, and emulates the protocol his predecessor Shinzo Abe followed for years.

Suga also sent an offering last fall festival, about a month after taking office following Abe’s resignation, and just like then, is not expected to attend the shrine.

Abe did however return to the shrine, having gone there in October after leaving office due to health problems.

“I have visited (the shrine) to show my sincere respect for the spirits of those who fought and dedicated their lives to the country,” Abe told reporters after the visit, according to statements collected by the Japanese news agency Kyodo.

The Yasukuni Shinto shrine has been involved in controversy for years and is often the subject of diplomatic friction with neighboring countries, who consider it a symbol of Japan’s militaristic past.

It honors those fallen in Japan between the end of the 19th century and 1945, more than 2.4 million people, including 14 politicians and officers of the Imperial Army convicted as class A war criminals by the International Military Criminal Court for the Far East at the end of World War II.

Abe came to personally present this offering in Yasukuni when he was still prime minister, until 2013, after criticism inside and outside the country that motivated him to start sending the offerings.

China and South Korea, countries that suffered war attacks from Japan, have expressed their complaints about the official tributes in Yasukuni because of old wounds linked to Japan’s colonial past. EFE-EPA


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