For the first time in decades, no member of the Japanese cabinet visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of WWII.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced his decision not to visit the Shinto shrine soon after taking office in June, saying, “As Class-A war criminals are enshrined there, an official visit by the prime minister or cabinet members is problematic. I have no plans to make a visit during my tenure.”
The order for cabinet ministers to avoid Yasukuni is evidence of “the continued shift by the DPJ toward stronger relations with Asian countries like Korea and China, and away from the US,” says Testuro Kato, a visiting professor of politics at Tokyo’s Waseda University. Kan has taken a conciliatory tone on this issue, including an apology to Korea earlier this month on the 100th anniversary of Japan’s colonization of the peninsula.
Japan PM Kan sends signal to Asian neighbors by shunning Yasukuni Shrine [CSM, 16 August 2010]
Japan’s Cabinet Shuns Shrine on Anniversary of War’s End [The New York Times, 15 August 2010]