Japan PM Visits Shrine, Thumbs Nose at China, S. Korea
Both are enraged over deliberate WWII snub
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2013 7:48 AM CST
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, followed by a security police officer, walks at Yasukuni Shrine to pay respect to the war dead, in Tokyo Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013.   (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

(Newser) – Japanese PM Shinzo Abe set off a diplomatic furor today with a visit to a shrine to Japan's World War II dead—including no shortage of war criminals—that has China and South Korea sputtering in rage. Dressed to the nines and appearing on live television, Abe entered the Yasukuni shrine this morning in order to, as he put it, "pay respect for the war dead who sacrificed their precious lives and (hope) that they rest in peace." And seemingly fully aware of the hornet's nest he was kicking, he added: "I have no intention to neglect the feelings of the people in China and South Korea." China instantly deemed the visit "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people," notes the BBC, while South Korea is expressing "regret and anger."

The US State Department has also jumped in, saying it is "disappointed" with Abe's move, which will "exacerbate tensions" in the region. It's the first such visit in seven years, but what was Abe thinking? NPR thinks the prime minister, a staunch nationalist looking to introduce a "first-strike capability" to his nation's national security strategy, knew exactly what he was doing. An expert earlier this week said of Abe, "What we're seeing is the first move towards Japan really shedding that pacifist post-war stance and taking a much more proactive defensive posture." Another says that with the shrine visit, Abe is "showing he is a tough guy," a move that the BBC says "plays very well with his base." Quartz runs down a list of winners and losers of the visit, noting that "the true implications are likely to play out over a much longer timespan."

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Showing 3 of 15 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Dec 26, 2013 9:53 PM CST
Current young adults in China have no idea we had military bases in China in the 40's to support our fight against Japan. We liberated many Chinese towns that fell to the Japs. Kunming had a large US airbase and we all probably have some relative who flew out of there as it was very large even in today's standards. Our involvement in the defense of China has been excluded out of their history books. The only thing they teach is the same as is taught in Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is no wonder Chinese children and young adults hate the USA and will grow up one day to walk our streets as victors in war.
njgreen
Dec 26, 2013 9:51 AM CST
This is all posturing. All of these countries make a lot of money trading with each other and that will never change.
Izman15
Dec 26, 2013 9:41 AM CST
This is further evidence of the US's declining power and influence in this region. Japan feels they can not trust the US to keep the peace in Asia any longer, with N. Korea totally insane, a rising China dedicated to growth at any cost, and a partially revitalized Russia trying to reassert their former influences it's a dangerous neighborhood. Pacific countries especially those in the Indonesian archipelago need to be concerned and the way they have responded is by ramping up nationalism and increasing navy and army spending. Obama has promised a political and military shift to Asia but it comes too late. US economy and military are practically exhausted and a laughably ineffective congress has erased all hope of America as a stabilizing force for the region. If I had to pick where World War III would be sparked my money would be on Asia.