TOKYO: Scores of Japanese lawmakers on Wednesday paid homage at the controversial Yasukuni shrine, risking fresh anger from Asian neighbors that fell victim to Tokyo’s aggression last century.
A cross-section of parliamentarians paid their respects at the shrine in central Tokyo as part of the spring festival, an AFP journalist witnessed.
The shrine honors those who fought for Japan, including a number of senior military and political figures convicted of the most serious war crimes.
China and South Korea see the shrine as a symbol of what they say is Japan’s unwillingness to repent for its aggressive warring. The United States tries to discourage visits, which it views as unnecessarily provocative.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drew sharp rebukes from China and South Korea on Tuesday after sending an offering to the shrine.
He has also said he may not repeat a formal apology for his country’s World War II rampage in an upcoming statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.
The lawmakers’ visit comes as Japan and China are reportedly arranging a meeting between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia, where the two men are attending an Asia-Africa conference.
Local media said the meeting could take place as early as Wednesday evening. The two men met briefly at the APEC summit in China last year.