• Kyodo

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A group of ruling party members is alleging that U.S. government officials and lawmakers they met with in Washington understood the aim of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to war-related Yasukuni Shrine, a move roundly lambasted throughout Asia.

The lawmakers from Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party visited Washington after the U.S. government declared itself “disappointed” by Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni and warned it would only exacerbate tensions between Japan and its neighbors.

“I think the prime minister’s intent has been reasonably understood,” Hirofumi Nakasone, a former foreign minister and head of the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship League, claimed to reporters after wrapping up the group’s three-day trip.

Nakasone said the LDP lawmakers also distributed an English-language version of a statement Abe released the same day as his Yasukuni pilgrimage, titled Pledge for Everlasting Peace.

But Nakasone stopped short of elaborating on specific reactions by the U.S. side to the statement, in which Abe explained how his trip to the shrine, which honors 14 convicted or accused Class-A war criminals among the nation’s war dead, was not intended to upset China or the two Koreas, among other Asian countries that suffered from Japan’s militaristic aggression and rule before and during World War II.

Abe further said he carried out the pilgrimage to renew his resolve to create a peaceful world, and that he would make efforts to win the understanding of neighboring nations that for years have pleaded with Japanese leaders not to pay homage at Yasukuni.

Among the officials the LDP group met with were Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, members of the Congressional Study Group on Japan, and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Chinese envoy critical

Washington

KYODO — In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai has castigated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for taking an “aggressive” posture toward neighboring East Asian countries.

Abe’s recent actions “have closed the door to dialogue,” Cui wrote in The Post’s Friday edition, singling out Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine amid an outcry by other Asian countries and in particular China and South Korea.

Noting that Yasukuni has a war museum that lauds what it terms “Japan’s salvage of Asian countries from the colonial rule of Western countries,” Cui, who also served as China’s ambassador to Japan, described the shrine as “ground zero for the unrepentant view of Japan’s wartime aggressions.”

Cui was equally critical of Abe’s bid to rewrite “Japan’s largely U.S.-drafted pacifist Constitution” to transform the Self-Defense Forces into a standing military.

“This aggressive posture imperils regional security and economic prosperity,” Cui cautioned.

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