South Korea Expresses Regret Over Japanese PM's Offering to Controversial Yasukuni Shrine

South Korea expresses deep disappointment over Japanese PM's ritual offering to controversial Yasukuni Shrine, highlighting unresolved historical tensions between the nations.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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South Korea Expresses Regret Over Japanese PM's Offering to Controversial Yasukuni Shrine

South Korea Expresses Regret Over Japanese PM's Offering to Controversial Yasukuni Shrine

On April 21, 2024, South Korea expressed deep disappointment and regret over Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sending a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals from World War II. The South Korean Foreign Ministry lodged a protest to Japan over the visits paid by Japanese officials to the shrine linked to the era of Japanese militarism.

The Yasukuni Shrine is a sensitive issue in South Korea, as it is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism and wartime aggression. South Korea's Foreign Ministry protested Kishida's action, stating that it "deeply regrets" the Japanese leader's offering to the shrine, which it said "glorifies Japan's past colonial rule and war of aggression."

South Korea urged Japanese leaders to face history squarely and demonstrate humble reflection and sincere repentance, stating that this would be an important foundation for improved ties between the two countries. The Yasukuni Shrine is viewed by Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan's past military aggression, and visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders have consistently drawn condemnation from both South Korea and China.

Kishida made the ritual spring offering to the shrine, but did not visit it himself to avoid creating a diplomatic row. Lower House Speaker Fukushiro Nukaga and Upper House President Hidehisa Otsuji also offered masakaki (evergreen twigs) at the shrine. Yoshitaka Shindo, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, visited the shrine on the same day. Kishida has been sending offerings to the shrine during spring and autumn festivals since becoming prime minister in 2021, but has refrained from visiting the facility.

Why this matters: The Yasukuni Shrine remains a source of diplomatic tension between Japan and its neighbors, particularly South Korea and China, due to its association with Japan's past militarism and wartime atrocities. The ongoing controversy surrounding the shrine highlights the unresolved historical grievances and the need for sincere efforts towards reconciliation and understanding among the nations involved.

The South Korean government condemned Kishida's offering, stating that it undermines efforts to improve bilateral relations between the two countries. Despite the two countries moving closer in ties in recent years, this latest offering by Kishida has sparked renewed tensions between South Korea and Japan. The shrine's association with Japan's past militarism has been strongly opposed by many peace-loving people both within Japan and internationally.

Key Takeaways

  • South Korea expressed deep disappointment over Japanese PM's offering to Yasukuni Shrine.
  • Yasukuni Shrine is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism and wartime aggression.
  • South Korea urged Japan to face history and demonstrate sincere repentance for improved ties.
  • Kishida sent offering to the shrine, but did not visit it to avoid diplomatic row.
  • The shrine remains a source of tension between Japan and its neighbors, South Korea and China.