S. Korea protests Japanese defense chief's visit to Yasukuni
SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry on Thursday lashed out at the Japanese defense minister for her visit to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo, a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor.
Tomomi Inada, Abe's hawkish new defense chief, visited Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday for the first time since assuming the key post in August. A day earlier, Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama paid homage to thousands of U.S. soldiers killed in Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii. The attack prompted the United States to join World War II.
"We strongly condemn the Japanese defense minister's visit to Yasukuni, which beautifies Japan's war of aggression against its neighboring countries and honors war criminals," the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
It is deplorable that Japan's defense chief went to Yasukuni though South Korea has stressed that the two sides "face up to history and build a future-oriented relationship," it said.
The shrine, which honors millions of mostly Japanese war dead, including World War II criminals, has long been at the center of a diplomatic dispute among Japan, South Korea and China.
It is also the first visit by Japan's high-ranking official to Yasukuni after Seoul and Tokyo signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in November to better counter North Korean threats.