The recently departed Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has paid a visit to Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo.
The former leader of the world’s third biggest economy, replaced earlier in the week after retiring early for health reasons, took to Twitter to say he visited the shrine earlier today in what was his first visit in almost seven years – just over 48 hours since his successor as prime minister was officially appointed.
The shrine to the nation’s war dead in the Japanese capital is seen by both China and the two Koreas as a symbol of Imperial Japan’s wartime aggression, and official visits are usually met by official complaints from Beijing, Seoul, and sometimes Pyongyang.
Mr. Abe’s post on Twitter claimed that he had visited Yasukuni Shrine to “report to the souls of the war dead” that he had now resigned as the prime minister.
The shrine typically causes controversy with both Beijing and Seoul as it is said to honor a number of convicted war criminals alongside around 2.5 million other Japanese and members of the Imperial forces from other nations in World War II who died in the name of the then emperor.
The shrine itself dates back to 1869, when it was constructed to honor those killed in the Boshin War of 1868 – 1869, although it contains the spirits of internees as late as the First Indochina war of 1946 – 1954.
In all, 2,466,532 internees are honoured at Yasukuni, including 27,863 Taiwanese, and 21,181 Koreans.