About 150 Japanese lawmakers visit Yasukuni shrine

Tokyo, April 22: About 150 Japanese lawmakers from a non-partisan group Tuesday morning visited the Yasukuni Shrine during the spring festival.

The notorious shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead including 14 Class-A convicted WWII criminals, is seen as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo also paid a visit to the war-linked shrine Tuesday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dedicated a “masakaki” tree offering to the shrine under the title of “prime minister” Monday, Xinhua reported.

The lawmakers included members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as well as the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Restoration Party. Last year, during the same period, 168 lawmakers had visited the shrine, the highest number since 1989.

Keiji Furuya, chairman of Japan’s National Public Safety Commission, Sunday visited the shrine while Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura sent an offering Monday.

Since Abe’s administration launched in December 2012, the prime minister has not refrained his cabinet members from visiting the shrine and he himself also visited Yasukuni on the first anniversary of the launch of his government Dec 26, 2013.

The frequent visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders, cabinet ministers and lawmakers have become a major obstacle in mending the relations between Japan and its neighbouring countries which suffered under the Japanese aggression during the war.

Relations between Japan and neighbouring China and South Korea have frayed due to not only territorial disputes, but also Japan’ s attitude toward its wartime history, including the Yasukuni issue.

China lodged a protest with Japan Monday shortly after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent an offering.

IANS