The Korea Herald


S. Korea expresses regret as Japan honors war criminals

By Choi Si-young

Published : Aug. 15, 2023 - 17:17

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The flags of South Korea (right) and Japan. (123rf) The flags of South Korea (right) and Japan. (123rf)

South Korea on Tuesday expressed regret over visits by Japanese lawmakers to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead from 1868 to 1954, including 14 convicted Class A World War II war criminals.

Marking its liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule, the Korean government issued a statement, urging Japanese leaders to “face up to the country’s past.”

“We express deep disappointment and regret that the Japanese leaders in the government and parliament have again sent offerings and made visits to the shrine that beautifies wartime aggression and houses war criminals,” the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said in a statement.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent an offering to the shrine, having done so six times since taking office in October 2021. He has since never made a personal visit there.

Mass visits to the shrine usually take place during Japan’s spring and autumn festivals and on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, as well as the day the Korean Peninsula was liberated from Japan’s 35-year colonial rule.

In a speech marking Korea’s liberation, President Yoon Suk Yeol called Japan a partner that shares with Korea “universal values and common interests,” a phrase the conservative administration uses as it pursues closer three-way ties with Japan and the US. The three countries are working on denuclearizing North Korea, South Korea’s nuclear-armed neighbor it has yet to sign a peace treaty with to resolve the 1950-53 Korean War.