Opinion / Editorials

Shrine visits reflect militarism

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-24 07:00

Despite fresh protests from Beijing and Seoul, a Japanese cabinet minister and nearly 150 lawmakers visited the Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday. The shrine commemorates Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War II, and such visits are highly provocative to Japan's neighbors that were the victims of Japan's brutal militarism.

Less than four months ago, Abe's own visit to the shrine not only raised tensions with China and South Korea, it also prompted Washington to give him a diplomatic slap on the wrist and express its "disappointment" at his provocative action.

The visits on Tuesday, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ritual offering on Monday, reflect the infatuation with militarism that characterizes Abe's administration, and were an embarrassing slap in the face for visiting US President Barack Obama, demonstrating the dwindling influence Washington has on Japan's right-wing politicians, said a Xinhua commentary.

The shrine has been repeatedly used by right-wing politicians in the country as a symbol of their defiance of the postwar order.

It is a negative asset for Japan, as the shrine has become a destructive factor in relations between Japan and its neighbors.

Rather than thoroughly reflecting on their wrong view of history and correcting their acts, Abe and a handful of other senior Japanese politicians continue to whitewash Japan's past and to steer their country down a rightist path reminiscent of militarism, which will inevitably further strain Tokyo's relations with Beijing and Seoul.

They know full well their denial of historical truths is frowned on by the international community, which views their actions with concern, so they have resorted to double-faced tactics.

For example, although the majority of the administration did not visit the shrine in person in order to avoid criticism from Washington and ensure the success of Obama's visit, they dedicated trees or other offerings to the shrine with an aim of appeasing domestic right-wing forces.

The world should remain vigilant to these tactics and the path Abe is leading the country down. It is in no country's interest to see Japan take the wrong path.

It is fundamental for Japan to face up to and reflect on its history of aggression against, instead of the claimed liberation of, its neighbors and other Asian nations and to make a clean break with militarism.

The first step is to stop the visits to the symbolic war shrine.

(China Daily 04/24/2014 page8)

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