Just weeks after outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, earning now-routine criticism from neighboring South Korea and China in the process, his successor, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, earlier today sent a ritual offering Saturday to the shrine, in a move expected to earn similar protestations from neighboring countries
The reaction from South Korea will likely be compounded by Suga earlier this week telling Seoul to make more serious efforts at moving forward talks on questionable WWII reparations.
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.
Controversially it also honours a number of senior military figures convicted after WWII of war crimes.
Prime Minister Suga’s offering was a sacred ‘masakaki’ tree – a gift typically sent by Japan’s head of government on special occassions.
Sent to mark a hugely popular autumn festival the Prime Minister himself is not expected to visit the shrine, as he prepares for an upcoming overseas trip starting tomorrow to Indonesia and Vietnam.
Whether or not he decides at any point to visit the shrine in his capacity as prime minister, however, remains to be seen.
His predecessor, Shinzo Abe, did visit the shrine in an official capacity in 2013, a move that led to much angst and anti-Japanese protests in Seoul and Beijing.