The United States expressed disappointment over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday.
“The United States is disappointed that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors,” the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said in a statement.
“The United States hopes that both Japan and its neighbors will find constructive ways to deal with sensitive issues from the past, to improve their relations, and to promote cooperation in advancing our shared goals of regional peace and stability,” the statement said.
Members of the Obama administration have expressed appreciation over Abe’s restraint from visiting the controversial shrine since taking office a year ago, according to sources.
The move could affect President Barack Obama’s East Asia policy, which puts priority on regional stability, observers said.
China and South Korea reacted angrily to the visit.
S. Korean avoids prison
The Tokyo District Court gave a suspended sentence Thursday to a 23-year-old South Korean man who tried to start a fire at Yasukuni Shrine.
Kang Yong-min was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for four years, for intruding into the shrine’s premises around 5 p.m. Sept. 22, hurling a plastic bottle of toluene, a flammable liquid, and hiding there for about four hours.
“Although the act was a simplistic one by the defendant, who ignored its dangers and possible damage, he has apologized and shown an attitude of repentance,” presiding Judge Akira Ando said.