11:12 am - Wednesday November 4, 2015

3 Japanese female ministers visit notorious Yasukuni Shrine

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TOKYO – Three Japanese female ministers on Saturday paid visits to the notorious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine during its autumn festival.

The visits by the ministers, namely Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi, Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission Eriko Yamatani and Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of promoting women’s active participation, came after Abe’s offering to the shrine on Friday.

Abe sent a sacrifice to the shrine under the title of the prime minister, while he was in Italy for an Asian-European summit. But government top spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Friday that the offering by Abe was “in a private capacity.”

Takaichi revealed her plan to visit the controversial shrine, that honors 14 convicted Class-A Japanese war criminals along with war dead during WWII, earlier this week and was urged by a ruling party leader not to pay the visit so as to avoid angering neighboring China and South Korea.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the ruling Komeito Party, said Wednesday that Takaichi should avoid the planned visit as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking a possible meeting with China in the sidelines of the upcoming summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in China in November. Japan’s ties with its neighboring South Korea and China are frayed due to historical issues such as the Yasukuni Shrine visits by Japanese leaders, ministers and lawmakers and the “comfort women” issue, as well as for territorial disputes.

On Friday, both South Korea and China slammed Abe’s shrine offering with the South Korean Foreign Ministry denouncing that ” It’s deeply deplorable Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and some lawmakers ignored concerns and critical voices held by neighboring countries and international society and sent an offering to Yasukuni Shrine.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said China firmly opposes Abe’s shrine offering and urged Japan to face up to its past history.

The three female politicians who were all enlisted in Abe’s new cabinet lineup early in September with Takaichi and Yamatani, both of whom have close relations with Japanese rightist groups are seen as Abe’s long-term political allies.

Arimura reportedly maintains conservative stance on gender equality and was doubted publicly to be an appropriate candidate for the post aims at promoting Japanese women to be involving in workplace.

On Friday, Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki also sent an offering to the shrine, while about 110 lawmakers in a nonpartisan group which promotes to pay homage to the notorious site also worshiped the shrine.

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