This is the first time in 7 years that an incumbent Prime Minister visited the shrine. Yasukuni is dedicated to Japanese soldiers died in combat before WWII, including convicted war criminals. Visits by Japanese leaders often prompted strong outcry from neighboring countries.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday released a statement denouncing Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Yasukuni shrine. It said the acts seriously hurt war victims in Asia. Beijing warned that the visit would destroy the fragile relationship between Japan and neighboring countries.
An official of the Republic of Korea said Abe’s visit would damage Seoul and Tokyo’s diplomatic relations.
In a press conference after the visit, Prime Minister Abe said his aim is to pray for peace and swear not to let his people to suffer from war again. Abe added that criticism over this visit to Yasukuni shrine is based on a misunderstanding and it is not his intention to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people.