BEIJING – China has lashed out over the visit Monday by two of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet ministers to Yasukuni Shrine.
“China is firmly opposed” to the visits, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said in a statement released late Monday.
However, unlike the last couple of years, the statement came much later in the day and made no mention of Abe’s ritual cash offering to the shrine on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.
The differences may reflect China’s consideration of a possible meeting between President Xi Jinping and Abe on the sidelines of this year’s Group of 20 summit early next month.
By not visiting the shrine, Abe evidently wanted to avoid escalating tensions with China and South Korea. He instead made the offering, at his own expense, through an aide.
Abe’s visit in late 2013 to Yasukuni, seen by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, sent Tokyo’s relations with Beijing into a deep chill.
The shrine includes Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal in its honoring of millions of war dead.
In the statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s top spokesman, Lu Kang, said the visits by Sanae Takaichi, internal affairs minister, and Tamayo Marukawa, minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealed again “the Japanese government’s wrong attitude toward the history issue.”
Lu said Japan should reflect deeply on its past history of aggression and take appropriate action to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the rest of the international community.