South Korea warned Japanese politicians Monday against paying homage to their war dead at the Yasukuni shrine next week in response to Japanese leaders‘ reported plans to visit the major symbol of an imperialistic Japan’s wartime atrocities.
Japanese media reported Sunday that ruling Liberal Democratic Party‘s policy chief Sanae Takaichi will join other politicians in paying respect at the Shinto shrine on Aug. 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.
South Korea celebrates it as the Day of the National Liberation from Japan‘s colonial rule on the Korean Peninsula.
“Worshipping at the Yasukuni Shrine by the Japanese government and political leaders is something that should not happen,” Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a briefing.
“The stance of our government is clear and known to the whole world,” Cho said, referring to Seoul‘s similar warnings repeated in the past.
On major national events, Japanese leaders often pay visits to the shrine located in central Tokyo, which honors convicted war criminals along with Japan’s war dead. For conservative Japanese, the shrine embodies strong patriotism.
South Korea has strongly protested Japanese leaders‘ visits to the shrine, which has been a recurring source of political tension between the two neighboring countries.
Amid rising tensions with neighbors, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier pledged not to pay his respects at the shrine on Aug. 15, but a group of other Japanese government officials and politicians are expected to visit the shrine despite protests from abroad. (Yonhap News)