TOKYO, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, pushing his country onto a more dangerous path and leaving it more isolated from its Asian neighbors as well as from the international community at large.
Even at home, Abe's move was blasted by leaders of different political parties.
Seiji Mataichi, secretary general of the Social Democratic Party, strongly criticized the visit, saying it is "an incredible outrage" and shows Abe's inclination to wage a war.
Japanese Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii said Abe's visit is "unforgivable" as it "beautifies Japan's wartime aggression."
Banri Kaieda, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said Abe should have refrained from visiting the controversial shrine so as not to further damage Japan's ties with China and South Korea.
Abe's visit to the war-linked shrine was even criticized by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s small ruling partner the New Komeito Party.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the small ruling party, called the visit "regrettable," saying his party had consistently urged the prime minister to avoid visiting the shrine.
Abe clearly understood the ramifications of his visit, Yamaguchi said.
A Kyodo News poll in late December showed the approval rate for Abe's cabinet at 54.2 percent, dipping from the 62.0 percent marked right after he took office on Dec. 26, 2012.
Abe's one-year-long right-leaning policy has scratched Japan's ties with its neighbors.
China on Thursday strongly condemned Abe's visit to the war shrine, saying it tramples on the sentiment of Asian countries.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the move, the first such visit by an incumbent Japanese prime minister since 2006, severely went against the principle and spirit of the four political documents between the two countries, as well as the commitment made by former Japanese administrations and leaders on historical issues, and erected a major new political obstacle to the already strained China-Japan relations.
China-Japan relations have been facing severe difficulties since the Japanese government announced in September 2012 its plan to "purchase" part of the Diaoyu Islands, which are Chinese territory since ancient times.
Although Abe said immediately after taking office last December that relations with China remains one of the most important foreign relations for Japan, the prime minister however, during his one-year rule, took a hawkish stance, refusing to apologize for Japan's war crimes and trying to revive Japan's militaristic past.
Analysts said Abe's visit will hurt the already strained Japan-China relations as mutual trust between the two neighbors has been damaged and common ground has been lost to resume high-level exchanges.
South Korea, which also suffered deeply from the Japanese aggression during World War II, on Thursday denounced Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine as "deplorable" and warned that it jeopardizes bilateral ties.
"Our government cannot repress condemnation and rage over Prime Minister Abe's paying of respects at the Yasukuni shrine that glorifies its colonial aggressions and enshrines war criminals," Culture Minister Yoo Jin Ryong said in a statement, representing the South Korean government.
The United States, Japan's key ally, was also "disappointed" by Abe's visit to the shrine, saying the move would "exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors."
Joseph Nye, former U.S. assistant secretary of defence, said earlier in Tokyo that if Abe visited Yasukuni as prime minister, it will do "considerable damage" to Japan's relations with its neighbors, as well as its relations with the United States.
Japan's business circles have voiced concerns over worsening economic ties with China and South Korea in the wake of Abe's shrine visit, with some fearing that the move could develop into boycotts of Japanese products overseas.
Trade volume between China and Japan dropped 8.8 percent to 174 billion U.S. dollars in the first seven months of this year, according to the Chinese Commerce Ministry.
"We don't know how much impact the visit might have. I hope this will not develop into a huge problem," an official of a major Japanese automaker was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.
In view of the largely unpopular rising state budget and sales tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent starting next April, analysts believe that Abe was playing with fire by distracting public attention from the sluggish economy and may lose badly if the Japanese economy does not perform well.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Major U.S. newspapers on Thursday published articles saying Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine spurs new tension in Asia and further aggravates Japan's ties with China and the Republic of Korea.
Abe's "surprise" and "provocative" visit to the shrine that honors convicted Class A war criminals from World War II also triggered a rare show of disapproval by Washington, causing fresh concerns for the Obama administration, said the newspaper articles. Full story
BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, saying the gesture is "a major new political obstacle" to already strained relations.
"China will not tolerate," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while summoning Japanese Ambassador to China, Kitera Masato, after Abe's Thursday visit to the shrine, where 14 WWII class-A war criminals are honored. Full story
BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the WWII Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Thursday, is a dangerous step toward militarism and will lead to further deterioration of China-Japan relations, and regional stability.
The move denies history, hurts the peoples again who were invaded by Japan, and shows the continuous rise of Japan's right wing.Full story
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