Cabinet gives Yasukuni a miss

by Natsuko Fukue

Staff Writer

More than 50 lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties Monday marked the 66th anniversary of Japan’s surrender by visiting Tokyo’s contentious Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the nation’s war dead as well as Class-A war criminals.

Considering in particular the sensitivities of other parts of Asia, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet skipped the visit. It is the second year in a row a Democratic Party of Japan-led Cabinet opted on Aug. 15 to avoid drawing further fury, particularly from China and South Korea. Kan said last year he will not visit the shrine as long as he is in office.

Lawmakers who visited Yasukuni include former internal affairs and communications minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi of the DPJ, Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) leader Shizuka Kamei and party colleague Takashi Morita, a parliamentary secretary of the internal affairs ministry.

“Personally, I feel sad,” Morita told reporters, regretting that the Cabinet didn’t visit the shrine. “This year, we experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake. I prayed for the unity of the country and the people.”

Toshiei Mizoochi, a Liberal Democratic Party member and an executive of a lawmaker group promoting Yasukuni visits, agreed.

LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki, ex-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara went there separately.