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China and South Korea protest over Japanese PM's shrine visit

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China and South Korea protest over Japanese PM's shrine visit


Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to a shrine for the war dead in Tokyo has provoked strong protests from China and South Korea. They were particularly angered by the fact that, for the first time, he went there on the 15th of August, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War Two. The Yasukuni shrine, which honours Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals along with two and a half million war dead, is considered a symbol of Tokyo’s past militarism by China and South Korea which suffered most from Japanese aggression. The visit came as Japan’s relations with Beijing and Seoul are at their worst in decades.

Later, at a memorial ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the surrender, which was also attended by Japan’s Emperor Akihito, the Prime Minister expressed Japan’s remorse for causing tremendous damage and suffering to its Asian neighbours in particular during the war.

Koizumi defended his shrine visit by saying it was not intended “to justify the past war or to glorify militarism” but rather “with the feeling that we should not wage war again and that we must not forget the sacrifice of those who went to war and died.” However, that argument cut little ice with protesters.

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