SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday joined the stream of criticism against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit last week to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
“Our consistent position has been that such visits reopen old grievances, and are unhelpful to building trust and confidence in the region,” the ministry’s spokesman said in a statement.
Tensions in the region have been rising with a recent series of events, actions and counteractions taken by a number of different parties, the statement said.
“The visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, occurring against this backdrop and at this time, is likely to evoke further negative feelings and reactions in the region,” it said.
The statement added that it is in the interest of all parties to “exercise restraint, avoid actions which might further raise tensions, and seek to create an environment of greater mutual trust and understanding.”
The last sitting prime minister to visit the shrine was Junichiro Koizumi in 2006. Koizumi visited on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II. Singapore spoke out on that occasion as well.
Singapore was invaded and occupied by Japanese forces from 1942 to 1945.
On the first anniversary of his second stint in office, Abe on Thursday visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honors millions of Japan’s war dead, including Class-A war criminals.