China protests Japan Minister’s shrine visit

Japan's Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo arrives at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. As Japan marks the 68th anniversary of its Aug. 15, 1945 surrender in World War II, visits by senior politicians to this shrine honoring 2.5 million war dead, including Class A war criminals, remain a galling irritant in its relations with neighboring countries, that bore the brunt of its colonial and wartime aggression. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT  

China on Saturday lodged protests with Japan over the visit by a Cabinet minister to the Yasukuni war shrine, with differences over wartime history continuing to strain ties amid rising maritime tensions.

On Saturday, Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo visited the shrine, which honours Japan’s civilian war dead but also includes 14 class-A war criminals.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it “lodged solemn representations” with the Japanese side, adding that the visit “once again shows the mistaken attitude of the current Japanese Cabinet toward history.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself visited the shrine in December, becoming the first Japanese leader to do so in seven years. The visit brought angry reactions from China and South Korea, while even its ally, the United States, expressed disappointment.

China and South Korea have repeatedly accused the Abe government of attempting to rewrite the history of wartime Japanese occupation, which still evokes strong emotions in both countries.

China’s ties with Japan have been further strained by disputes over East China Sea islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

Japan has blamed China of attempting to alter the status quo of the Japanese-administered islands by aggressively deploying vessels in disputed waters.

Beijing, however, has maintained that Japan started the row by nationalising the privately-owned islands in 2012.

Planes scrambled

Underlining how relations have plummeted since then, Japanese officials said this week aircraft were scrambled a record 415 times last year to respond to Chinese jets, up from 306 a year earlier.

And only on Saturday, the Japanese Coast Guard said three Chinese coastguard ships had sailed through disputed waters, within 12 nautical miles of the islands, and left after two hours.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 12:10:19 PM |

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