All Sunday papers wrote that four cabinet ministers, including Environment Minister Koizumi and Education Minister Haiguda, paid homage at Yasukuni Shrine on Saturday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. This was the first time in four years for cabinet members to visit the war shrine on Aug. 15. Prime Minister Abe chose not to visit the shrine and instead sent a “masakaki” tree offering at his personal expense.
Nikkei pointed out that while China has urged Japan’s prime minister, chief cabinet secretary, and foreign minister not to make visits to Yasukuni Shrine, some LDP politicians have recently been calling for the Abe administration to take a tough line toward Beijing in the face of its relentless patrol operations around the Senkakus. The paper speculated that Saturday’s pilgrimage to the shrine by the four cabinet ministers demonstrates that the Abe administration is trying to strike a balance between consideration for the Xi administration and for the LDP.
China and South Korea voiced objections to the four senior Japanese politicians’ Yasukuni visit. The ROK Foreign Ministry voiced “deep disappointment and concern,” while a Chinese state-run media noted that Beijing has consistently been strongly opposed to Japanese political leaders’ “wrongheaded” approach.”