Ghosts of Empire: Japanese Justice Minister Visits Shrine Honoring War Dead

The controversial Yasukuni Shrine © AP Photo/ Eugene Hoshiko
The controversial Yasukuni Shrine © AP Photo/ Eugene Hoshiko

Japan’s Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki visited on Saturday Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine built in honour of Japanese victims in the World War II.

TOKYO (Sputnik) — Japan’s Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki visited on Saturday Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni shrine regarded as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism by other Asian nations, local media reported.

“Paying respects to those who sacrificed their lives for the country is a universal thing. How that is done depends on a country’s tradition,” Iwaki told reporters as quoted by the local Kyodo news agency.

Mitsuhide followed the suit of Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi, who visited the shrine on Friday. The country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last visited Yasukuni in December 2013, triggering wave of condemnation in China and South Korea.

The shrine was founded by Emperor Meiji in 1869. It lists about two and half million civilians and government officials who died in wars between 1867 and 1951, as well as about 1,000 war criminals, 14 of which are considered to be A-Class, or those internationally acknowledged to have participated in a joint conspiracy to start and wage war.

Visits to the controversial shrine by Japanese politicians spark protests from the country’s neighbors in connection with the memories of Japanese occupation and colonialism before and during World War II.

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