Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is visiting Europe, sent ritual offerings to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors World War II criminals, on Wednesday morning.
Abe sent a sacred “masakaki” bearing his name "Cabinet Prime Minister Abe Shinzo" on the start of a four-day autumn festival. Masakaki is a cleyera japonica tree offered to the alter of a shrine.
When asked about the prime minister’s ritual offerings at the regular briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide answered that it was ‘an act of an individual’ and that it is ‘not something to ask for the government’s opinion.”
Abe, who was inaugurated as the prime minister for the second time in December 2012, has been criticized by the international society including Korea and China for paying respect to Yasukuni Shrine in December 2013. Ever since then, he has been sending ritual offering to the shrine; Masakaki during the spring and fall ceremony instead of visiting and "damagushi," ash tree, a tree with white papers on branches, on August 15, which is the day of the defeat in the second World War.
Some 2,466,000 people who died for the "denno," Japanese emperor, during small and big wars inflicted by modern Japan are enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine. However, ever since the shrine enshrined 14 grade A war criminals of the Pacific War including former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo in 1978, even the current Japanese King Akihito did not pay a visit to the shrine, not to mention King Showa who reigned from 1926 to 1989.
Young-A Soh email@example.com