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Beijing, Seoul slam Abe visit to controversial shrine

26 December 2013 17:29

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China and South Korea have condemned a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo, warning of possible consequences.

Abe visited the Yasukuni Cinreisha war shrine on Thursday, which drew criticism from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“The essence of Japanese leaders’ visits to the Yasukuni shrine is to beautify Japan’s history of militaristic aggression and colonial rule,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

South Korea’s Culture Minister Yoo Jin-Ryong also censured Abe’s “anachronistic behavior.”

“We cannot help deploring and expressing anger at the prime minister’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine… despite concerns and warnings by neighboring countries.”

The South Korean culture minister added that the shrine honored the memory of the people who inflicted “indescribable” pain and suffering on Koreans during the 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula.

In Japan, the Yasukuni shrine is a revered site dedicated to around 2.5 million people, who lost their lives from the Boshin War of 1867 through the end of World War II.

High-ranking officials executed after World War II for committing war crimes are also buried at the shrine.

Beijing also holds Tokyo accountable for claiming millions of Chinese lives during its invasion of the country in the 1930s.

Meanwhile, the Japanese prime minister defended his visit to the shrine by saying that it was a pledge that his country would not go to war again.

“I have renewed my determination before the souls of the war dead to firmly uphold the pledge never to wage a war again,” Abe said in a statement released by his office.

The Japanese leader also said that his visit was not aimed at hurting the feelings of the Chinese or the South Koreans.

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