It has come to light that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed sympathy for Japan's World War II war criminals during a memorial service for them in April. His act is especially problematic because the subject of the service included the nation's wartime government and military leaders convicted as Class-A war criminals at the postwar tribunal by the Allied forces. It will only deepen the perception that Abe is a revisionist on Japan's wartime behavior, possibly jeopardizing the nation's position in the international community.
Abe reportedly expressed sympathy in a letter sent to the memorial service held for some 1,180 people who were executed as war criminals or died during detention after being charged with war crimes in the wake of WWII, including wartime leaders who were given death sentences by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East such as Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo. The memorial service was held in the Oku-no-in area of Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture, the center of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
The service was sponsored by an association of graduates of the Military Academy of the Imperial Japanese Army and of the current National Defense Academy, and by an association to maintain the memorial stone for the war criminals.