Regarding the Oct. 19/20 Kyodo article “Abe skirts Yasukuni snare“: I believe that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has opted for a judicial decision. It’s true that Yasukuni Shrine has enshrined a lot of people killed in the Pacific War, and Japanese citizens should respect them. But this shrine was once a moral beacon for Japan’s military, so he should not visit there in his capacity as prime minister.

This article reminds me that every time the hawkish and maverick Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stubbornly visited the shrine, the relationship with neighboring countries was seriously aggravated and the threat of conflict intensified. Considering the more tense situation between Japan and China and South Korea these days, nobody wants to make it worse.

Some people insist that not visiting Yasukuni Shrine could jeopardize Abe’s conservative support base. However, I’d guess that a lot more people wish for a better relationship with neighboring countries. It is deplorable that the prime minister’s visiting or not visiting Yasukuni Shrine has become such a diplomatic thorn between Japan and those countries.

Yet, in diplomatic issues we should give first priority to the nation’s interest as a whole.

shuichi john watanabe

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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