New Komeito, the Liberal Democratic Party’s ally in the ruling coalition, expressed displeasure over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday.
His visit to the shrine, the first by a sitting prime minister in seven years, was praised by conservative members of the LDP, including Upper House lawmaker Seiichi Eto.
But New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said the visit was unfortunate because it was made despite his repeated warnings that political and diplomatic problems would follow.
“The prime minister himself must deal with the various consequences of his visit,” he said.
Abe visited the shrine even though Yamaguchi clarified his opposition in a telephone conversation just beforehand.
Afterward, New Komeito headquarters received phone calls from angry supporters urging the party to sever its ties with Abe, party sources said.
But an exit from the ruling coalition is not an option. “We must endure patiently,” a party executive said.
The Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, People’s Life Party and the Social Democratic Party were critical of Abe’s shrine visit.
Meanwhile, Your Party and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) — both of which agreed with the ruling side on an amendment to a state secrets bill enacted earlier this month — defended Abe’s action.