Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a ceremonial offering to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which is regarded by other Asian nations as a symbol of Japan's militarist past, and apologized for not being able to visit the shrine in person, local media reported on Wednesday
TOKYO (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 15th August, 2018) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a ceremonial offering to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which is regarded by other Asian nations as a symbol of Japan's militarist past, and apologized for not being able to visit the shrine in person, local media reported on Wednesday.
"I am sorry I cannot visit the shrine. Pay due respect [on my behalf] to the souls of our ancestors," Abe told his aide Masahiko Shibayama who delivered the prime minister's offering to the shrine, as quoted by the Kyodo news agency.
Seoul, in turn, expressed its deep regret over Abe sending the ceremonial offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported.
"We call on Japanese politicians to take a sincere attitude of reflecting on and repenting for past history. We point out that, in that case, relations between South Korea and Japan will move forward in a future-oriented way and (Japan) can garner trust from neighboring countries," the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, as quoted by Yonhap.
Wednesday marks the 73rd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. On this day, Japan holds an annual ceremony to mourn the war dead, while the countrys officials usually make a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine to pay tribute to dead warriors.
Since being elected prime minister in December 2012, Abe visited the shrine only once in 2013, stressing it was an anti-war gesture. The move, however, did not only spark protests from China and South Korea, but also notably alienated Japan's main ally - the United States. Since then, Abe has only sent ritual offerings to the shrine, while first lady Akie Abe has reportedly visited the religious site.
The Yasukuni shrine was founded by Emperor Meiji in 1869. It enshrines about 2.5 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.