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China, ROK express displeasure at Inada’s visit to Yasukuni

All papers ran front- or inside-page reports on Defense Minister Inada’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday. Several papers speculated that Inada visited the controversial shrine out of deference to conservatives. The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned a minister counselor of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing to express opposition to the visit. A ministry spokesperson stated at a news conference that the visit, which took place on the heels of a “tour of reconciliation” to Pearl Harbor by Prime Minister Abe and Defense Minister Inada, evinces great irony. The South Korean Foreign Ministry called in a minister counselor of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to lodge a protest. The ministry said in a statement that it was “deplorable that a responsible Japanese politician visited Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies past colonial invasions and invasive wars, and enshrines war criminals.” Yomiuri wrote that although South Korea expressed a “deep sense of disappointment” over Prime Minister Abe’s “masakaki” offering to the shrine for its autumn festival in October, it did not use the term “disappointment” for Inada’s visit.

 

DOS official makes comment

When asked about Inada’s Yasukuni visit by reporters, Prime Minister Abe declined to comment on the matter. Mainichi wrote that Inada’s visit to Yasukuni may affect Japan’s defense cooperation and exchanges with China and South Korea as well as Tokyo’s efforts to improve ties with those nations. The paper quoted a U.S.-Japan diplomatic source as saying that Inada’s visit to Yasukuni has caused the Obama administration to lose face since it has been urging Tokyo to improve ties with Beijing and Seoul. The paper ran a Jiji story from Washington saying that an unnamed State Department official commented on the visit by saying the United States will continue to stress the importance of promoting healing and reconciliation in dealing with history issues. The paper interpreted this remark as a call for restraint, adding that it is unusual for the State Department to issue a comment about a cabinet minister’s visit to Yasukuni. Yomiuri ran a similar report on the comment by the DOS official, adding that although relations between Washington and Tokyo became strained when the USG released a statement expressing “disappointment” with Abe’s visit to Yasukuni in December 2013, the U.S. did not express strong criticism of the visit by Inada probably to avoid undermining the reconciliation demonstrated by the recent visit to Pearl Harbor by the U.S. and Japanese leaders.  

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