Tuesday, September 2, 2014   

Japanese lawmakers visit wartime shrine
(04-22 17:34)

A Japanese cabinet minister and some 150 lawmakers on Tuesday visited Yasukuni Shrine, which is seen by critics as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, in a move that could further strain fraught regional ties.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent an offering to the shrine on Monday, just days before a Tokyo visit by US President Barack Obama, provoking an angry response from China and South Korea, which decried it as romanticizing Japan's wartime past, RTHK reports.
Internal Affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo, along with a close aide to Abe, paid their respects at Yasukuni, where 14 war criminals convicted by an Allied tribunal are honoured along with the nation's war dead, as part of the shrine's annual spring festival that ends on Wednesday, the day Obama arrives.
"As this visit was my personal visit, I don't believe that it will have any effect on the US President's visit," Shindo told reporters. A separate visit Shindo made to Yasukuni earlier this month prompted an angry response from China.
Abe made a December visit to the shrine as part of a delicate dance aimed at pleasing his conservative supporters while trying to minimise international criticism. But the visit sparked widespread global anger, with key ally the United States saying it was "disappointed".   
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