Newly appointed Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Thursday refused to clarify her position on sensitive historical issues, insisting she is "not in a position" to express her views on Japan's wars against China and the Allied powers in the 1930s and '40s.

She also declined to clarify during a group interview and at separate news conferences whether she will continue her regular visits to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, saying it is a private, emotional matter. Yasukuni is often regarded as a symbol of Japan's wartime militarism.

During Thursday's news conference, she was asked repeatedly if she believes Japan fought a war of aggression or self-defense during World War II. Many right-wing Japanese argue it was the latter, which has irked China and South Korea and caused diplomatic rows with other Asian neighbors.