WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- A White House official on Wednesday urged Japan to respect history, as Japan's continued attempt to whitewash its wartime past is stoking regional tensions.
"Of course, everybody's going to have their own views, but I think it's important that there is a respect for that history in actions that are taken," said Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
He made the remarks in response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's late December visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo, which honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class-A World War II criminals.
The visit has sparked outcries from China, South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and generated concerns in other parts of the world. The United States has expressed "disappointment."
Since he took office, Abe has been attempting to downplay Japan's heinous war crimes during WWII, including massacres, forced labor and sexual slavery.
"As a general matter, in the Asia-Pacific region, we have counseled Japan, Republic of Korea and China to show some sensitivity to the very significant historical concerns," Rhodes said.
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden had reportedly tried to stop Abe from making his visit, as tensions in the region had already been heightened over territorial disputes.
"We all benefit if the region is more stable, if there is not a risk of escalation," said Rhodes.