Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will decide “from a broad perspective” whether to visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine by the end of the year, the government’s top spokesman said Monday.
“The prime minister himself will decide from a broad perspective. That says it all,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference without elaborating. A day earlier, an aide in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party hinted he would pay a visit by the end of December.
“The prime minister has said it was regrettable that he could not visit the shrine during his first term in office (between 2006 and 2007),” Suga said.
On Sunday, Koichi Hagiuda, a member of the Lower House serving as a special aide to Abe, the LDP’s chief, said he thinks Abe will visit the Shinto facility by the first anniversary of his Cabinet’s launch in December.
“Some people say he should visit the shrine sometime while he is prime minister, but a visit to the shrine should be made at least once a year,” he said.
The shrine served as the spiritual backbone of Japan’s war effort. It honors Class-A war criminals along with Japan’s war dead. Visits by prime ministers and Cabinet members frequently anger China and South Korea, which both tasted Japan’s aggression during the war.
For Yasukuni’s annual autumn festival, Abe refrained from visiting and instead sent a “masakaki” tree offering to avoid worsening strained ties with China and South Korea and take heed of his conservative support base.
But two of his Cabinet ministers paid a visit.