SEOUL , April 21 (UPI) -- An offering by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was seen in South Korea as glorifying Japanese imperialism and the colonization of Korea.
Abe sent a “masakaki” signboard, used in Shinto religious ritual, to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a World War II memorial, for its annual spring festival. The shrine honors Japanese war dead, but South Korea considers it symbolic of Japan’s brutal colonization of nearby countries, including Korea.
Seoul’s foreign ministry, in a statement, said the memorial “enshrines war criminals in glorification of Japan’s past invasions and colorizations, as well as war aggressions.”
Abe’s visit to the shrine in December brought a strong reproach from South Korea as well as from the Chinese government, which considers China a victim of Japanese aggression as well.
The offering Monday, of essentially sending a communication instead of a visit from the prime minister, may indicate a deliberate move not to worsen relations between Japan and South Korea prior to the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Asia later this week.