Response to Yasukuni visits underway: official
South Korea will soon reveal its response to expected visits by Japanese lawmakers to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead from 1868 to 1954, including 14 convicted Class A World War II war criminals.
A senior official in Seoul with knowledge of the matter told reporters Tuesday that the government needs to monitor the situation closely, referring to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s decision the same day to send an offering to the shrine. The previous day, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, paid respects in a visit. Visits prompt strong condemnation.
The Korean government expressed disappointment and regret over the offering and visit, with the Foreign Ministry calling on Japan to face up to its history and show action matching its sincere repentance.
Lim Soo-suk, the ministry spokesperson, said Korea will see what it will do about mass visits to the shrine by Japanese officials and lawmakers, without detailing what such response could be.
Such visits last took place on Aug. 15. That is when Japan marks the anniversary of its surrender in World War II, a defeat that ended Japan’s 35-year colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula. Kishida had sent an offering. The Japanese leader, who took office in October 2021, has since sent an offering to the shrine instead of visiting.
This time, a spillover is not likely since the two Asian neighbors have been working to capitalize on momentum to build tighter ties. They cleared one of major colonial-era disputes, resumed leader-level visits and even inked a security pledge that included the US, their mutual ally, to fight off common threats -- all this year.
In another sign of warming ties, Seoul and Tokyo this week vowed to work together globally in the face of escalating geopolitical crises. On Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa thanked in a phone call Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin for evacuating Japanese nationals from Israel using Korea’s military transport plane.