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Japan defense minister’s visit to war-linked shrine irks U.S.

U.S. officials have reacted negatively to the Japanese defense minister’s visit Thursday to a controversial war-linked shrine days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama.


“We continue to emphasize the importance of approaching historical legacy issues in a manner that promotes healing and reconciliation,” a State Department spokesperson told Kyodo News, indirectly criticizing Tomomi Inada’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Thursday.


Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it is regrettable that Inada visited the shrine shortly after returning from Hawaii, where she accompanied Abe who offered condolences to those who died in the 1941 Japanese surprise attack there.


The Shinto shrine is seen by some of Tokyo’s neighbors, particularly China and South Korea, as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. The two countries have rapped Inada’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

Abe offered his “sincere and everlasting condolences” Tuesday at Pearl Harbor, while praising the postwar reconciliation between Japan and the United States.


He was speaking in a joint ceremony with Obama at the USS Arizona Memorial, built above the U.S. battleship sunk in the attack on Dec. 7, 1941 that prompted the United States’ entry into the war.


Obama said in his speech, “Today the alliance between the United States and Japan, bound not only by shared interest but also rooted in common values, stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, and a force for progress around the world.”


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