China, South Korea expresses deep regret as Japan leaders pay tribute at wartime shrine including convicted war criminals

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Reuters

Monday, 15 August 2016 07:12 GMT
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* New Defence Minister avoids Yasukuni visit, PM sends offering

* Emperor expresses “deep remorse” over war

* South Korea expresses “deep concern and regret” (Recasts with South Korean reaction, details, paragraphs 1, 4-6, 14)

By Kento Sahara and Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO, Aug 15 (Reuters) – South Korea expressed deep regret on Monday after dozens of Japanese lawmakers visited a shrine for war dead, which Seoul and Beijing see as a symbol of Tokyo’s wartime militarism, on the anniversary of Japan’s World War Two defeat.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering but did not personally go to the Yasukuni Shrine. Visits to the shrine outrage Japan’s Asian neighbours because it honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals, along with war dead.

Ties between China and Japan, Asia’s two largest economies, have been strained in recent days after a growing number of Chinese coastguard and other government ships sailed near disputed islets in the East China Sea.

Territory disputes and historical issues also periodically chill relations between Japan and South Korea.

“(We) express deep concern and regret that responsible political leaders … are again paying tribute to the Yasukuni Shrine that glorifies the history of the war of aggression,” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a morning visit by South Korean lawmakers to a disputed set of islands, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, was “extremely regrettable” and that Japan would protest strongly.

Abe has not visited the shrine in person since December 2013, sending ritual offerings instead.

“He told me to come and my visit was out of respect to those who gave their lives for the country,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, an aide in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who gave the offering in Abe’s name as LDP president rather than premier.

New Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, who has been accused by China of recklessly misrepresenting history after she declined to say whether Japanese troops massacred civilians in China during World War Two, was visiting troops in Djibouti and unable able to go to the shrine as she has in the past.

EMPEROR’S “DEEP REMORSE”

Emperor Akihito, speaking at a ceremony honouring victims of the war, expressed “deep remorse” over the conflict fought in the name of his father, Hirohito. He first used the phrase at the memorial service last year on the 70th anniversary of the war’s end. Some saw it as a subtle rebuke to the conservative Abe, who favours a less apologetic tone.

“Reflecting on our past with a feeling of deep remorse, I earnestly hope the ravages of war will never be repeated,” said Akihito, 82. The emperor hinted in a rare video address last week at wanting to abdicate in a few years.

Abe vowed at the same ceremony that Japan would work for world peace.

“Going forward, and sticking to this firm pledge while facing history with humility, we will make every effort to contribute to world peace and prosperity and the realization of a world where everyone can live without fear,” he said.

Among the roughly 70 lawmakers who visited the Shrine were Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi and Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa. (Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Takaya Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Nataly Pak in SEOUL; Writing by Elaine Lies and Linda Sieg,; Editing by Paul Tait)

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016 12:12 PM

Hiroshima Marks the 70th Anniversary of Atomic Bomb ( Source- Getty images)

Hiroshima Marks the Anniversary of Atomic BombĀ 

Tokyo :The Japanese city of Nagasaki on Tuesday marked 71 years since its destruction by a US atomic bomb, with its mayor lauding a visit by US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima earlier this year.

A bell tolled as thousands of people, including ageing survivors and relatives of victims, observed a minute’s silence at 11:02 am (0732 IST), the exact moment the of the blast.

The attack came three days after the US dropped the first ever atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which ultimately killed 140,000 people.

Some 74,000 people died in the initial explosion, while thousands of others perished months or years later from radiation sickness.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue lauded Obama’s landmark May visit to Hiroshima — the first ever by a sitting US president. “Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons,” Taue said, calling on other world leaders to visit his city.

Japan — A young girl looks at candle-lit paper lanterns with written message at Nagasaki Peace Park on the eve ahead of the 71st anniversary activities.

Local officials and those who survived the bombing called for strict adherence to Japan’s post-war tradition of pacifism and were critical of the Japanese government. “The government of Japan, while advocating nuclear weapons abolition, still relies on nuclear deterrence,” the mayor said, calling it a “contradictory state of affairs”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his address in Nagasaki, called on world leaders to honor the global Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. “We must not allow a repeat of the horrible experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that happened 71 years ago,” Abe said.

Abe has moved to extend the scope of Japan’s military and deepen the nation’s alliance with Washington in the face of threats from China’s expanding military strength and unpredictable North Korea. North Korea last week test fired a ballistic missile that landed in waters off Japan’s coast for the first time.

First Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 12:01 PM
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