Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to take Group of Seven leaders to Japan’s most prestigious Shinto shrine later this month when they gather in the Ise-Shima area for their annual summit, government sources have said.
Abe is eager to show the leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United States and the European Union around Ise Shrine in the Mie Prefecture. The Shinto shrine is “a very good place to get in touch with the Japanese spirit,” he said earlier.
Abe plans to welcome his G-7 peers on the morning of May 26 at a bridge leading to the Inner Shrine, which is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, the mythical ancestral deity of the Japanese Imperial family.
The G-7 leaders — some accompanied by their spouses — may also tour an area that is usually not open to the public, the sources said Wednesday.
The government plans to organize the event in a way that will not be seen as blending politics and religion, the sources said.
When Abe announced last June the venue for the May 26-27 summit, he expressed hope that other G-7 leaders would visit the shrine to “share the solemn and imposing atmosphere” there.
The shrine office has said the public will not be allowed to visit the Inner Shrine between 5 a.m. and 1 p.m. on May 26.
A total of 125 shrines are located on the premises, which Ise Shrine says occupies an area roughly the same size as Paris. Japanese prime ministers have visited the shrine at the beginning of the year for decades.