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China & Korea Condemn Japan Over Shrine Visit

Japan Marks 68th Anniversary Of WWII Surrender

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chose not to visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo today, but his restraint, it seems, hasn’t placated anyone. China and South Korea continue to decry his administration’s frequent anti-historical, antagonistic statements and actions in recent months.

Dozens of lawmakers and at least three cabinet ministers visited Yasukuni in person, Reuters reports, leading to condemnation from Beijing and Seoul. “It does not matter in what form or using what identity Japanese political leaders visit the Yasukuni Shrine, it is an intrinsic attempt to deny and beautify that history of invasion by the Japanese militarists,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. China also angrily summoned the Japanese ambassador to lodge a formal protest.

In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye led celebrations of her country’s independence from Japanese colonialism. As the WSJ reports: “In her speech, Ms. Park urged ‘responsible and sincere measures to those wounded by history’ from Tokyo, in a veiled reference to so-called ‘comfort women’.” The legacy of the women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers has been a difficult sticking point in relations between Seoul and Tokyo. Several Japanese politicians and Abe himself have wondered what the fuss is all about, and the mayor of Osaka even said that comfort women were “necessary.” There are weekly protests led by former comfort women at the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

Meanwhile, according to a recent poll, 93 percent of Chinese and 90 percent of Japanese have negative opinions of each other’s country. It doesn’t look like recent hints that Japan’s relations with China and South Korea are growing more amicable will pan out—and for now, at least, the tension will continue to bedevil Washington’s plans for the region.

[A man bows at the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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