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S. Korea protests Japanese officials' visit to controversial war shrine

2018/04/20 15:21

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SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Friday protested a group of high-level Japanese officials' visit to a historically controversial war shrine that honors Japanese World War II criminals.

A group of 76 high-ranking government officials and lawmakers visited Yasukuni Shrine in the morning and paid respects ahead of the shrine's annual traditional spring rituals to honor the gods enshrined there.

The group included State Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato and Shinsuke Okuno, state minister for internal affairs and communications, according to Kyodo News.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly did not send a ritual offering to the shrine despite his regular offerings to the shrine in the past that triggered angry backlash from Seoul.

"It is our government's basic position that a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine cannot be justified under any circumstance since it is a symbolic structure glorifying Japan's past colonial rule and aggression," an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul said.

Seoul "calls on Japan to recover the trust of its neighboring countries on the basis of humble self-reflection and repentance for its history," the official said.

To Seoul, the shrine honoring 14 Class-A war criminals from World War II symbolizes Japan's imperialistic era, during which it colonized the Korean Peninsula and enforced many Koreans into labor and sexual servitude.

pbr@yna.co.kr

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