All national dailies reported that Economic Security Minister Takaichi and Reconstruction Minister Akiba visited Yasukuni Shrine on Monday to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II. Mainichi said that while Prime Minister Kishida refrained from visiting the shrine and instead visited the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery and laid a wreath there, he did reportedly pay the fee for a ritual offering to Yasukuni. LDP policy chief Hagiuda also paid a visit to the shrine on Monday. Meanwhile, the papers said a nonpartisan group of lawmakers decided not to visit the shrine on the anniversary due to the spread of the coronavirus. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Nishimura visited the shrine on Saturday.
The papers reported that the governments of China and South Korea criticized Japanese politicians’ visits and ritual offerings to Yasukuni Shrine. The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo released a statement on Monday expressing “strong frustration and staunch opposition.” A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson also said on the same day that “Yasukuni Shrine is a symbol of Japanese militarism” and urged Japan to “seriously learn from history and make a clean break from militarism.” A South Korean government spokesperson also released a statement on Monday saying: “Yasukuni Shrine glorifies Japan’s war of invasion in the past and honors war criminals. We expressed our deep disappointment and regret over the repeated visits and ritual offerings by the leaders of the Japanese government and parliament.”
Sankei noted, however, that South Korea expressed a certain degree of understanding for Kishida’s ritual offering, saying that a senior official of the presidential office told the press that “it has become customary for the Japanese leader to pay respect to Yasukuni Shrine in some form.” The senior official also reportedly disclosed that South Korea was informed of Kishida’s ritual offering in advance and added: “Overall, we are in very close dialogue.”