“It is natural for any country to pay tribute to those who have given their lives for the motherland,” commented the Chief Secretary of the Government
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a donation to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which is often seen as a symbol of Japan’s former militarism, Reuters reported.
Kishida himself did not visit the shrine, but members of his government were there Monday on the 77th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II. This is expected to anger China and South Korea, which were particularly hard hit by Japanese occupation during the war.
Japan’s relationship with China has already been particularly strained this year after Beijing conducted unprecedented military exercises off Taiwan following a visit there by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month. During the exercises, several missiles fell into the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
In Yasukuni, among the others who fell in the service of Japan, 14 Japanese war criminals convicted by the special tribunal of the Allies after the war are also honored.
A representative of the peace-loving wing of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, Kishida must avoid angering his neighbors and international partners while also appeasing his party’s right wing, especially after the assassination of its strongman Shinzo Abe last month.
Kishida himself sent a donation without visiting the temple, the Kyodo news agency reported. He made donations during festivals last year and this spring. Early Monday, however, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation showed several ministers at the temple, including Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi. Koichi Hagiuda, head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s political research council and a key ally of slain former prime minister Shinzo Abe, was also there earlier.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said he did not know if the prime minister would visit the temple, but believed he would make an appropriate decision. “It is natural for any country to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for the motherland,” Matsuno said, adding that Japan would continue to strengthen relations with its neighbors, including China and South Korea.
Later today, Kishida, as well as Emperor Naruhito, will attend a separate secular ceremony to mark the anniversary of the World War II surrender.