A Japanese cabinet minister has visited a controversial war shrine in the capital, Tokyo, in a move likely to cause anger in China and South Korea which see it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.
Japanese Internal Affairs and Communication Minister Yoshitaka Shindo visited the Yasukuni war shrine in the nation’s capital, Tokyo, on Saturday.
Shindo said he made the visit to pray for Japanese soldiers who died in the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
“I renewed my commitment to never cause such a tragedy as I prayed for peace before the people who lost their lives in the war…. That’s what I do every time I visit the shrine,” he said.
The visit came as a surprise because lawmakers usually make their visits during one of several annual festivals including the upcoming April 21-23 spring festival.
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.
On December 26, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first visit to the shrine as the country’s premier.
The move angered China and South Korea who see the visit as a reminder of Japan’s “imperialist past and wartime aggression.”
Japan occupied large parts of China and the Korean Peninsula during World War II.