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(LEAD) Abe's Yasukuni visit to have diplomatic repercussions: Seoul

2013/12/26 13:36

SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Yonhap) -- The Japanese prime minister's visit to a controversial shrine that honors war dead including Class A war criminals will have huge diplomatic repercussions, a Seoul government official said Thursday, signaling a further hike in already-high tensions with Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni war shrine late Thursday morning, marking the first anniversary of his taking office.

The visit to the controversial shrine was the first by a Japanese prime minister since former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid his respects there in 2006.

Abe's paying respects at the shrine constitutes an attempt to justify the country's past aggressions and fragment bilateral relations with Seoul, the South Korean government official said, adding that it will have huge diplomatic repercussions.

"Japan may know for itself how huge the diplomatic repercussions of the prime minister's visit to the Yasukuni shrine will be," the official said. "There will be a huge diplomatic impact."

   The Yasukuni shrine, which honors many convicted Class A war criminals along with millions of Japanese war dead, is viewed by former Japanese colonial victims as symbolizing Japan's imperial past.

Japanese politicians and leaders' visits have triggered strong reactions from both Seoul and Beijing, which continue to call on the Abe administration to face up to and reflect on its history of aggression.

Ties had already been strained following Tokyo's recently renewed territorial claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo.

The two countries were reportedly in discussion over a plan to hold vice foreign ministerial talks, presumably in an effort to arrange a summit between their state leaders.

The South Korean foreign ministry plans to issue a strong complaint over the shrine visit and to summon the chief of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to convey its protest of the move.

pbr@yna.co.kr

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