New tensions between Japan and its neighbors may start again after Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso visited the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo on the weekend. As a result, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se cancelled a trip to Japan’s capital.
The Yasukuni shrine honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 leading war criminals with cabinet member Keiji Furuya, and is seen in the entire Asia as a symbol of Japan’s atrocities during wartime. Aso visited the shrine during a spring festival that started on Saturday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not present during the visit, but sent a gift instead. Four members of his cabinet visited the memorial over the weekend.
China did not answer yet, but the consequences are likely to spread throughout North Asia, the international press comments. A delegation of Japanese MPs was scheduled to visit Beijing next month, but the event was canceled due to difficulties in providing security for such high-level meetings.
Relations with North Korea could also be affected, as the country’s recent threats had caused a slight thawing in relations between Tokyo and Seoul. There were also possibilities of finalizing an intelligence-sharing pact between Tokyo and Seoul, but that does not seem likely now, according to the international press.