Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Yonhap)
South Korea on Sunday expressed deep regret over Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's sending of offerings and other leader's visits to Yasukuni Shrine on the occasion of the anniversary of the end of World War II.
"The government voices its deep disappointment and regret over Japanese leaders repeating the sending of offerings and visits to Yasukuni Shrine that beautifies Japan's past war of aggression and enshrines war criminals," Choi Young-sam, foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a written commentary.
"The government urges responsible people in Japan to show with action their humble soul-searching and genuine reflection on history, while pointing out that only when based on such attitude, will Japan be able to build future-oriented relations with South Korea and gain trust from other neighbors," he added.
Earlier, Suga sent offerings to the shrine and three members of his cabinet, including Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi and Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda, paid homage there, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency.
Since taking over as premier in September last year from Shinzo Abe, Suga has not visited the shrine but sent offerings twice in October and April this year.
News reports also showed that Abe visited the shrine on Sunday, his fourth confirmed trip there since leaving office.
Yasukuni Shrine honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals. Japanese leaders' visits to the shrine have drawn strong condemnation from Asian neighbors, including South Korea, as they were viewed as an attempt to beautify the country's militaristic past.
On Friday, South Korea's foreign ministry called in a senior diplomat from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to lodge protest against Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi's visit to the shrine. (Yonhap)