Two Cabinet ministers on Thursday refused to rule out the possibility that they might visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15 — the 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.
After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier this week he would not prevent any of his ministers from visiting the Shinto facility (while declining to comment on whether he intends to go so himself), Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and administrative reform minister Tomomi Inada both said they would decide later.
It’s “permissible as a (citizen of a) sovereign state to offer thanks and respect to people who sacrificed their lives for the state,” Inada told reporters.
“I will decide and act appropriately as a Cabinet member,” she said.
Shindo said at a separate news conference that he is still considering the matter, since his ancestors are honored there and he has repeatedly visited in the past.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at his morning news conference that he would not comment on whether ministers should visit.
Visits by prime ministers and other politicians to the Shinto facility especially anger China and South Korea because the shrine, which honors millions of the nation’s war dead, as well as Class-A war criminals, served as the spiritual backbone of Japan’s war of aggression.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who visited Yasukuni in April for the annual spring festival, said he would not visit on the anniversary and noted that he rarely does so.