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Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 14:43
Japan's Abe sends ritual offering to notorious Yasukuni Shrine
By Xinhua
Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 14:43 By Xinhua

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) enters his official residence in Tokyo Aug. 3, 2017. Abe sent a ritual offering to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, 2017. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a monetary offering to the notorious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday on the 72nd anniversary of Japan's surrender which brought an end to World War II.

Two groups of lawmakers also visited the shrine on Tuesday morning. One group was the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members, headed by nationalist Tomomi Inada.

Inada, a protege of Abe and known to share his similar right-wing views, quit her post recently as Defense Minister to account for a cover up scandal related to Japanese troops' activities while on a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

The second comprised a bipartisan group that included Senior Vice Foreign Minister Masahisa Sato. 

Abe himself is reportedly to refrain from visiting the shrine in person in an effort to prevent further damage to Japan's relationship with its closest neighbors at a time Japan and the region is facing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Abe, however, sent his special advisor, Masahiko Shibayama, to the shrine to make the monetary donation. 

The donation was made in Abe's capacity as the leader of the ruling LDP, not as the prime minister but also not as a private citizen.

After making the donation, Shibayama told a press briefing that Abe had instructed him to pay a visit on his behalf and said he "feels sorry for not being able to visit the shrine."

A visitor prays at the altar of Yasukuni Shrine while a ritual donation sent by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (a plant on left with red ribbon) has been placed during the shrine's spring festival in Tokyo on April 21, 2017. (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP)

It is the fifth consecutive year that Abe has made a ritual offering, instead of paying a visit to the shrine on Aug. 15. in person.

Abe last visited Yasukuni Shrine in December 2013, which caused a backlash from Beijing and Seoul and saw the United States express its opposition to and disappointment in the move.

Visits and ritual offerings made by senior politicians to the war-linked shrine consistently disregard the feelings of those in Japan's neighboring countries.

As such, the move will likely draw the ire of Japan's closest neighbors, including South Korea and China, who suffered immeasurably at the hands of the Imperial Army of Japan during and after World War II.

Yasukuni Shrine honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among Japanese war dead from WWII and is regarded as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

The shrine is run by a private foundation and the 14 Class-A war criminals' "souls" were enshrined there secretly in 1978, by the clandestine organization.

The foundation, which also runs Yasukuni's museum, openly depicts the war criminals as martyrs and blatantly misrepresents Japan's war in China as an act of "suppression" rather than one of aggression.

The museum has numerous displays showcasing Japan's war-time endeavors but has flagrantly misrepresented the actual facts, in not referring to well-documented war-related incidents such as the Nanjing Massacre, experiments conducted on prisoners of war and the suffering of thousands of "comfort women" at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army, for example.

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