TOKYO/BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday has drawn wide condemnation and criticism at home and abroad.
It is the first time in seven years that a sitting Japanese prime minister visited the notorious shrine. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a visit in August 2006.
Japan's ruling camp divided on Abe's visit, while the opposition criticized his worship to the controversial shrine.
An official of the New Komeito Party, a small party of the ruling bloc which also groups Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said that the party always asks the prime minister avoid visiting the shrine, adding the visit by the prime minister is regrettable.
"The prime minister's visit to the Yasukuni shrine will make Japan's relations with China and South Korea tougher," the official was quoted by local media as saying.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito Party, said he expressed opposition to the prime minister before the shrine visit, adding that Abe has to cope by himself with the impacts on Japan's foreign relations as he clearly understands the aftermath of his visit.
Katsumasa Suzuki, secretary general of the People's Life Party, said that taking Japan's position in the East Asian region into consideration, the visit will enrage its neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of Japan's Social Democratic Party Mataichi Seiji criticised Abe's move as unbelievable, saying it is an active militarism though the prime minister said he would follow an active pacifist road.
The shrine was a symbol of Japan's wartime militarism as 14 class-A war criminals, who were convicted by an Allied tribunal after the war, are enshrined there.
Abe's provocative move would drag Japan's already-fragile relations with neighboring countries into an abyss, and damage the efforts by the international community to dispel the shadow of militarism.
The visit, on the day marking Abe's first anniversary after resuming office, also triggered strong opposition from neighboring countries, such as China and South Korea, which suffered a lot due to Japan's brutal aggression into them during World War II.
Immediately after Abe's shrine visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China strongly condemned the Japanese leader's wrongdoing.
Japanese militarists' aggression brought atrocities to China and some other Asian countries and deeply hurt the Japanese people, Qin said.
Abe's visit to the shrine whitewashes Japanese aggression and colonial rule, overthrows the international community's trial of Japanese militarism and challenges the post-war international order, said the spokesman.
Qin added that Japanese leader's challenge of justice and historical trend gives its Asian neighbors and the international community every reason to be highly vigilant and deeply concerned over what road Japan will take in the future.
China has urged Japan to properly deal with the issues surrounding the shrine and reflect on its history of aggression.
Abe's visit also triggered criticism from South Korea, which said the move "will further fragment Japan's already icy relations with the two neighbors." It said the summit between leaders of Japan and South Korea cannot be achieved in the short term.
"Japan may know for itself how huge the diplomatic repercussions of the prime minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine will be," the Yonhap news agency quoted a Seoul government official as saying. "There will be a huge diplomatic impact."
South Korean Foreign Ministry plans to issue a strong complaint over Abe's visit and to summon the chief of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to convey its protest against the move, according to Yonhap's reports.
South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party denounced Abe's visit in a statement.
It said this move has beautified Japan's history of aggression and escalated tensions in Northeast Asia, and will further harm South Korea-Japan relations. It urged Japan to make a wise choice to improve bilateral relations.
At the same time, the main opposition Democratic Party also strongly condemned Abe's visit, urging Japan to stop its "arrogant actions" that destroyed peaceful orders in Northeast Asia.
Repeated visits to the notorious shrine by Japanese ministers and lawmakers have become a major obstacle for Japan to mend its ties with China and South Korea.
China scathing on Abe's Yasukuni visit
BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday strongly condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, saying the Japanese leader's move has deeply hurt the feelings of Asian war victims.
"(We) strongly protest and condemn the Japanese leader's wrongdoing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said immediately after Abe's Thursday visit to the shrine, where 14 WWII class-A war criminals are honored. Full story
Abe's shrine visit grave provocation, fuels regional tension
BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine on Thursday is a grave provocation that may lead to heightened tension in the region.
The visit came at the first anniversary of Abe's taking office as prime minister. It is also the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister since Abe's predecessor Junichiro Koizumi visited the shrine in 2006. Full story