South Korea slams Tokyo's visit to notoriously imperialist shrine
The Yasukuni Shrine in Japan, for many of Japan's Asian neighbors, is a symbol of violence, death and grief.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry on Monday expressed Seoul's deep disappointment and regret over Japanese officials' visit and offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine, a temple that Asian countries largely associate with Japanese imperialism and violence in the 20th century.
Media reported earlier today that Shinjiro Koizumi, the ex-Japanese environment minister, and Koichi Hagiuda, ex-economy minister, visited the Yasukuni Shrine and paid tributes to the dead imperial Japanese soldiers on the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II on August 15, 1975. Many other senior officials are expected to visit the shrine later in the day, excluding Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who, despite refraining from visiting the shrine, sent an offering with officials.
August 15 marks South Korea's independence from Japanese colonial rule, which lasted from 1910 through 1945.
"The government of South Korea expresses deep disappointment and regret that responsible officials of the Japanese government and parliament again sent an offering or paid tributes by visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which flatters Japan's past wars of aggression and honors war criminals, among others," the ministry said in a statement.
The Yasukuni Shrine, located in the middle of Tokyo, was founded in 1869 to commemorate Japanese soldiers that died colonizing their neighbors. The shrine presents information about around 2.5 million people and animals - namely dogs - that have died executing Japan's regional expansionist projects. The shrine, furthermore, enlists over 1,000 'war criminals.'
Japanese prime ministers have been refraining from visiting the shrine since 2013. The last prime minister of Japan to visit the shrine was Shinzo Abe, in December 2013. This caused a wave of negative reaction from China as well as South Korea, but led to warmer ties with the United States.
Since then, Japanese prime ministers have only been sending offerings to the shrine.