BEIJING – North Korea on Wednesday criticized former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his visit earlier this month to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, saying the move was a “manifestation of recklessness inciting Japan to re-invasion.”
The visit to the Shinto shrine in Tokyo has been viewed by Japan’s neighbors, including North and South Korea as well as China, as a symbol of its past militarism because it honors convicted war criminals along with millions of war dead.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Abe, who stepped down as prime minister on Sept. 16 due to health reasons, “persisted in inciting ultra-nationalism throughout the Japanese society.”
“The Japanese reactionaries will meet miserable and irretrievable ruin for persisting in reviving militarism, oblivious of the lesson,” KCNA added.
Three days after his resignation, Abe, regarded by neighboring countries as a hawkish conservative, said in a Twitter post that he visited Yasukuni Shrine.
Abe previously visited the shrine in December 2013, a year after the start of his second stint in office, provoking a strong response from Beijing and Seoul.
The 2013 visit was the first by a Japanese political leader since Junichiro Koizumi in 2006.
Established in 1869 to commemorate those who gave their lives for Japan, Yasukuni in 1978 added wartime Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo and other convicted war criminals to the more than 2.4 million war dead enshrined there.
Japan invaded the Korean Peninsula and a huge swath of China before and during World War II.