Historic tensions between South Korea and Japan have flared on the 67th anniversary of Tokyo’s defeat in World War Two.
A member of the Japanese cabinet visited the controversial Yasukuni war memorial, even though the prime minister had urged his ministers to stay away.
In South Korea the shrine evokes bitter memories of Japanese colonial rule in the first half of last century.
Jin Matsubara’s visit was the first by a cabinet minister since the Democratic Party came to power in 2009 promising to improve relations with Japan’s Asian neighbours.
In Seoul, the issue of so-called wartime “comfort women” – Koreans used as sex slaves by Japanese troops – dominated the anniversary of Japan’s surrender.
President Lee Myung-Bak urged Tokyo to do more to resolve the dispute, saying it was a breach of women’s rights and a violation of universal human rights.
Friction between the two countries ramped up last week over a group of islands claimed by both South Korea and Japan.
The South Koreans keep a coastguard presence there. President Lee paid a visit on Friday and the high-profile trip inflamed sentiment in Japan.
The islands are near potentially rich undersea gas fields.
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