A man prays on the first day of autumn festival at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Oct 17, 2021. (BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP)
TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday sent a ritual offering to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 convicted Class-A Japanese war criminals from World War II and is deemed by neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
The "masakaki" tree offering was sent under his name as prime minister on the occasion of the shrine's biannual festival held in spring and autumn.
The "masakaki" tree offering was sent under Fumio Kishida's name as prime minister on the occasion of the shrine's biannual festival held in spring and autumn
According to officials familiar with the matter, Kishida, the country's new prime minister elected on Oct 4, does not plan to visit the shrine during the two-day autumn festival that runs through Monday.
However, his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, on Sunday visited the Yasukuni shrine, saying that he went there as a former prime minister.
Among Kishida's Cabinet members, health minister Shigeyuki Goto and Kenji Wakamiya, minister for the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka, separately sent tree offerings to the shrine.
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Past visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders and lawmakers have sparked condemnation from neighboring countries as the shrine symbolizes Japan's past war crimes that still upset the countries suffering from painful memories of Japanese aggression.
Located in central Tokyo, the shrine, open to the public 24 hours a day, is a symbol reflecting Japan's wrong attitude towards its history of aggression and sends a wrong message to the Japanese public about the country's heinous war crime in the past.
The Yasukuni shrine, seen by the neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 Class-A convicted war criminals in World War II (WWII) along with its historically inaccurate museum.
It is a testament to Japan's past militarism and has long been a source of diplomatic frictions between Japan and its neighbors.
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Japan brutally occupied many parts of Asia before and during the WWII, causing untold suffering and death to hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
There were numerous more heinous acts conducted by the Japanese army, which until today have received far less coverage in school textbooks or in globally televised memorial services.