Abe defends Yasukuni Shrine visits

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent remarks defending his cabinet and parliamentarians' visits to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine have aroused strong criticism from the international community.

Abe questioned the definition of "aggression" on Tuesday, which he described as vague both academically and internationally, saying it depends on from which side one looks at the situation.

On the following day, the prime minister told a parliamentary panel that it is only natural to "honor the spirit of the war dead who gave their lives for the country", and that "our ministers will not cave in to any threats."

A group of 168 Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 leading war criminals of World War II.

Their move followed donations by Abe and three cabinet ministers' weekend visits to the notorious shrine.

Urging Japan to have a correct understanding of history, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Wednesday it would be difficult for her country and Japan to move in a future-oriented manner if Japan holds incorrect perceptions of history.

Park added that if Japan continues its rightward tilting, its relations with many Asian countries will bog down, which is not desirable for Japan as well.

In protest against the visits, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has called off a planned visit to Japan, while his ministry summoned Japanese ambassador in Seoul Koro Bessho for representation.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's government newspaper Democratic Korea published an article on Sunday saying that the incumbent Japanese government is more conservative than previous ones, adding the Abe administration twisted and denied the history of Japanese aggression.

Facts have proven that militarism in Japan has been on the rise. The Japanese rightists should be aware that they are now on a path of self-destruction, the article said, stressing militarism will lead not to peace and prosperity but to destruction.

The US Washington Post published an editorial on Saturday, saying Abe showed a lack of respect for history in his recent controversial remarks.

After reviewing the "brave steps" taken by Abe to reform Japan's economy, the article suggested his controversial remarks over Japan's wartime aggression could put all the progress at risk.

"Yes, history is always being reinterpreted. But there are such things as facts. Japan occupied Korea. It occupied Manchuria and then the rest of China. It invaded Malaya. It committed aggression," the article said.

It also contrasts Japan's unwillingness to acknowledge historical facts with Germany's honest attitude in this regard.

The Wall Street Journal said Thursday that Abe's comments on shrine visits have further aggravated tensions with its neighbor countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that the essence of issues regarding the Yasukuni Shrine is how Japanese government and leaders understand and treat the country's history of invading other Asian countries.

If Japanese leaders regard aggression, expansion and colonial rule by the country's former militarists as "a proud history and tradition," and attempt to challenge the results of World War II and post-war order, Japan can never escape its historical shadow and there will be no future for Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors, Hua told a regular news briefing.

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