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TOKYO, Japan – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a symbolic donation to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine Tuesday, April 21, but stopped short of visiting in person – a move that would have infuriated neighboring countries.
Abe donated a sacred “masakaki” tree to coincide with the start of the 3-day spring festival at the shrine in central Tokyo, a shrine official said.
The Yasukuni shrine honors Japan’s war dead, including some senior military and political figures convicted of serious crimes in the wake of the country’s World War II defeat.
That, and the accompanying museum – which paints Japan as a frustrated liberator of Asia and victim of WWII – makes it controversial, especially in China and South Korea, where it is seen as a symbol of Japan’s lack of penitence.
The sending of a gift is seen as a sign that Abe does not intend to visit, as he did in December 2013, sparking fury in Asia and earning him a diplomatic slap on the wrist from the United States, which said it was “disappointed”.
Abe is due to leave Japan later Tuesday for an Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia. He is also expected to visit the United States later this month.
Abe and other nationalists say the Yasukuni shrine is merely a place to remember fallen soldiers and compare it with Arlington National Cemetery in the United States.
Scores of conservative lawmakers, possibly including cabinet ministers, are expected to go to the shrine to mark the spring festival on Wednesday. – Rappler.com