Abe sends ritual offering to Yasukuni; several lawmakers visit shrine


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine, officials there said Friday, a move likely to draw angry responses from China and South Korea.

Abe dedicated a “masakaki” tree branch in his capacity as prime minister for the Tokyo shrine’s autumn festival running from Friday to Monday.

The Shinto shrine honors convicted Class-A war criminals alongside the nation’s war dead.

Abe is currently visiting Italy for the Asia-Europe Meeting. He is scheduled to return home Saturday.

The offering suggests that he will refrain from visiting the controversial shrine during the festival to leave room for mending ties with Beijing and Seoul.

Abe is seeking to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum next month in Beijing, saying that the two countries need to build “stable friendly relations.”

Abe last visited the shrine in December on the first anniversary of the launch of his government, a decision seen as a move aimed at appeasing his conservative supporters.

He has refrained from visiting the shrine on other occasions since returning to power, sending the ritual tree offering as prime minister for the spring festival in April and then in his capacity as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in August for the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including members of Abe’s LDP and the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, visited the shrine en masse on the first day of the four-day autumn festival.

It is customary for the group, which promotes Yasukuni visits by lawmakers, to pay homage during the annual spring and fall festivals and on the surrender anniversary on Aug. 15.

Among Cabinet members, internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi said she intends to visit the shrine during the festival, prompting lawmakers from Komeito, the coalition partner of the LDP, to urge the conservative lawmaker to exercise self-restraint.

  • Testerty

    Abe is expecting to be rewarded for refraining from doing something that he is not suppose to do in the first place. Yeah, right.

  • timefox

    Don’t care in criticism of South Korea which invaded Japanese territory Takeshima, and China which is invading the Senkaku Islands.
    Do your best.

    • rossdorn

      Just for the record, because I feel it necessary…

      In all those years that I have been li´ving in Japan by now, I have never met anybody actually thinking and talking like you.

      If I would, I would probably leave….

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    This really is politics at its simplest and basest form. That Abr gets elected is a sad reflection on the Japanese people.

  • J.P. Bunny

    I agree that this is politics. If Abe (or any other prime minister/cabinet member) had any sense he would wait until he was on his own time, change into his everyday clothes, remove his LDP pin, and visit the shrine as a private citizen. No TV crews or reporters. As long as he uses his own money, and not in his capacity as prime minister, he would be free to donate as many branches, monetary gifts, etc. as he wished. Instead, he is doing this in the government’s name. A fine line it may be, but one that makes a world of difference.