Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi on Wednesday visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, becoming the first Cabinet member to do so during the shrine’s autumn festival.
“As a Japanese, I expressed with reverence gratitude for those who died for the state,” Takaichi told reporters after visiting the Shinto shrine, seen as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism as it honors convicted war criminals along with millions of war dead.
Katsunobu Kato, minister in charge of implementing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies to deal with Japan’s declining birthrate and graying society, and Seiichi Eto, an aide to Abe and a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, also visited the shrine.
Abe made a ritual offering to Yasukuni on Monday, as he has done for past spring and autumn festivals, instead of attending the shrine in person.
A group of more than 80 lawmakers from various parties also visited the shrine Tuesday, prompting China and South Korea to express their concern.