Abe weighing big picture on Yasukuni trip


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will decide “from a broad perspective” whether to visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine by the end of the year, the government’s top spokesman said Monday.

“The prime minister himself will decide from a broad perspective. That says it all,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference without elaborating. A day earlier, an aide in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party hinted he would pay a visit by the end of December.

“The prime minister has said it was regrettable that he could not visit the shrine during his first term in office (between 2006 and 2007),” Suga said.

On Sunday, Koichi Hagiuda, a member of the Lower House serving as a special aide to Abe, the LDP’s chief, said he thinks Abe will visit the Shinto facility by the first anniversary of his Cabinet’s launch in December.

“Some people say he should visit the shrine sometime while he is prime minister, but a visit to the shrine should be made at least once a year,” he said.

The shrine served as the spiritual backbone of Japan’s war effort. It honors Class-A war criminals along with Japan’s war dead. Visits by prime ministers and Cabinet members frequently anger China and South Korea, which both tasted Japan’s aggression during the war.

For Yasukuni’s annual autumn festival, Abe refrained from visiting and instead sent a “masakaki” tree offering to avoid worsening strained ties with China and South Korea and take heed of his conservative support base.

But two of his Cabinet ministers paid a visit.

  • John

    Just go to Yasukuni and honor the majority of those young soldiers who died in military service to Japan at another time in history. Let China and Korea look at their own troubled past before making any further judgment and/or resentment regarding this current Japanese domestic matter. Ironically I lived for many years on the island of Roi Namur, in the Kwajalein Republic of the Marshall Islands. This was formerly part of the Japanese empire, and thousands of young Japanese soldiers were buried in a cemetery following a terrible battle during WW2. The cemetery is essentially a mass grave but carefully and well looked after by the good native Marshallese citizens and American residents. A Japanese bereavement association visits this site every few years with the permission of the local RMI government and the US Army who operate a classified radar installation on the island. We hope that all war dead from all wars can be respected and visited in this manner without bringing current politics and past history into the matter so we may honor those young people who have died in battle worldwide.

  • Guillaume Vares

    Why not the secular Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery instead? Because these visits serve a political purpose. Those who believe politicians visit Yasukuni in order to “honor the war dead” are naive, at best…