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Japanese MPs visited the Yasukuni Temple. Seoul expressed “deep regret and concern”

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South Korea’s Foreign Office expressed “deep regret and concern” after the visit of 99 members of the Japanese parliament to the controversial Yasukuni Temple. This is where Japanese people who died in the war were commemorated, including those recognized as war criminals by the international tribunal in The Hague.

A group of Japanese parliamentarians usually visit Yasukuni Temple during the spring and fall holidays, and on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II on August 15. However, these visits have not taken place since the end of 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not clear why Members visited the temple on Tuesday.


The cause of diplomatic friction with Beijing and Seoul

The visits of Japanese politicians to the Shintoist Yasukuni temple have long been the cause of diplomatic friction between Japan and China and South Korea, which see it as a symbol of Japanese wartime militarism. The temple honors over 2 million Japanese who died there, including 14 politicians and representatives of the Imperial Japanese army, recognized as war criminals by the international tribunal in The Hague.

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Japanese envoys at the Yasukuni templeReuters

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing “deep regret and concern over the visit to the Yasukuni Temple which embellishes the colonial invasion and offensive war.”

“Once again, we strongly point out that the international community will be able to trust Japan when it properly confronts history and demonstrates with its actions humble reflection on the past and sincere regret,” the ministry added.

View of the Yasukuni templeReuters

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has held this office since October, gave the temple ritual gifts on the occasion of the fall festival, but, like previous Japanese leaders, did not visit her in person during anniversaries and festivals to avoid increasing tensions in relations with China and South Korea.

Main photo source: Reuters

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