Abe’s cabinet member visits Yasukuni Shrine

Tokyo, Dec 28 (IANS) Masahiro Imamura, Japan’s Reconstruction Minister for disaster-hit region, visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine here on Wednesday, shortly after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a memorial at the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Imamura said his visit to the shrine right after Abe and US President Barack Obama met in the Pearl Harbor was just a “coincidence”, saying that he made the decision a week ago, Xinhua news agency reported.

Renho, leader of Japan’s largest opposition Democratic Party, however, said the visit showed that “Abe administration does not appear to be united”.

Imamura also visited the shrine on August 11, several days before the August 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the World War II.

Yasukuni Shrine honours 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from World War II and is regarded as a symbol of the past Japanese militarism.

Visits to the infamous shrine by Japanese leaders and officials have sparked strong criticism from China and South Korea, which both fell victims to Japanese invasion in WWII.

Abe on Tuesday attended a ceremony in Hawaii with Obama to remember 2,403 US soldiers and civilians killed during a surprise attack by Japan at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Abe has intended the trip to be a symbol of reconciliation.

However, his no-apology stance has evoked doubts and criticism that the visit is only a diplomatic show aiming to score political points and strengthen Japan’s alliance with the US while constituting no reflection upon the war.