Abduction minister vague on purpose; Abe sends Shinto stick

Aso, Furuya pay visits to war-linked Yasukuni


Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, paid a visit Sunday to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine as it kicked off its spring festival, tempting the ire of Japan’s neighbors.

Aso, who doubles as finance minister, bowed at the worship hall and left without responding to questions from reporters.

The former prime minister is the third member of the Cabinet known to have visited the Tokyo shrine since nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December.

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo visited the shrine on Saturday, saying it was a private visit.

Furuya, however, told reporters Sunday in alternate responses that he was visiting the shrine in a “private capacity” and in his official capacity as a member of the Cabinet.

Neither, however, are likely to deflect international criticism with such excuses.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato also visited the shrine in the morning and told Kyodo News that he was there in a “private capacity.”

Abe apparently opted to avoid further angering China and South Korea by dedicating a “masakaki” to Yasukuni with his name and formal title written on it and will refrain from visiting during the three-day festival, sources close to him said. Masakaki are decorated wooden sticks in which the wishes of the donor are believed to reside.

“It is natural for a lawmaker to offer heartfelt condolences for spirits of the war dead who sacrificed their lives for the nation,” Furuya said, adding he personally paid for a sacred tree branch he dedicated to the shrine during a Shinto ceremony.

Yasukuni, which served as the nation’s spiritual backbone during the war, honors convicted Class-A war criminals along with the war dead. It is viewed by China, South Korea and other countries who were invaded by Japan as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

Past visits by Japanese prime ministers to Yasukuni have drawn serious diplomatic repercussions from China and South Korea, both of which suffered dearly under Japan’s attempt to take over Asia.

The Cabinet holds the position that it will not disclose whether its members have visited or plan to visit the shrine.

Members of a bipartisan group of lawmakers promoting visits to Yasukuni are set to visit the shrine Tuesday.

‘Safe’ from China’s nukes


China will never use nuclear weapons against Japan, Pang Sen, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Arms Control Department, said at the U.N. European headquarters here Friday.

While China has a policy of not making a first-strike nuclear attack, it is rare for a high-ranking Chinese government official to refer to a specific nation regarding its possible use of nuclear weapons.

China will never use nuclear weapons on nuke-free zones under any circumstance, Pang added.

As for issues related to North Korea, Pang said that the major problem is the lack of mutual trust.

Noting that since any increase in military force on one side usually generates fears on the other side, he said this creates a vicious circle that can escalate into a crisis situation.

Countries concerned should sit down and talk to each other, he added.

Expressing China’s support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Pang said that his country believes peaceful and diplomatic means must be used to find a solution to the problem.

Also on Friday, five members of the nuclear club — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — released a statement reflecting their concerns about the “serious challenges” posed to the global nuclear nonproliferation regime by the nuclear development programs of North Korea and Iran.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council members released the statement ahead of a preparatory meeting starting Monday for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference.

  • Shunta Furukawa

    I hate the war and any causes of erupting into open warfare.
    Therefore, I think they souldn’t do anything which will likely deflect international criticism.
    But it is important that offering condolences for spirits of the war dead because they are suffered by the nations. The behavior like this would express that the countries regarded about the war and invading to the others.

    My question is why Yasukuni separate the convicted Class-A war criminals and the dead by the war. I mean the point is they should serve the way to tribute the war dead without upholding the invading or war.

    • Taylor Gregg

      I agree with Shunter’s last question, but not regarding his comment not to do anything that might offend some other nations. Basic sense of nation and heritage belong to every country, and cannot allow to be dictated in that respect by outside nations, regardless of the history. Korea, China, time to get over it, concentrate on the present. So said Wang Yang Ming…

      • Shunta Furukawa

        I had a big mistake. I wrote “they are suffered by the nations.” but I meant that “they are suffered by the nation.”. It’s really big mistake. I just meant that “they are suffered by Japan”.

        I think you are correct, still we can’t avoid from where’s country we are belonging now. But I hope I can. You know, I just tell you that I’m Japanese.

      • I agree. Why is Japan the only country that has to worry about such things? I think they should ignore this nonsense.

  • Japanese politicians and citizens have every right to visit anywhere they want to. I visit Yasukuni every time I go to Japan because I recognize that war creates victims everywhere. We should be more concerned about preventing future wars than droning on and on about what has happened in the past.

    • Eloísa Sato

      I agree with you John. I have visited Yasukuni Shrine too (I’m not Japanese) and I really like the way you expressed your opinion… hope you don’t mind if I share it!