Go to contents

Japanese Minister Downplays Yasukuni Visits

Posted November. 28, 2005 05:44,   


Regarding the Japanese prime minister’s ongoing visits to Yasukuni Shrine, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said, “Korea and China are the only countries in the world that talk about the Yasukuni issue,” implying that Japan doesn’t need to care.

On November 26 at a lecture held in Kanazawa, Minister Aso said the above and claimed, “Although some people point out that Japan is isolated and is not welcomed in the region, Japan doesn’t have to care about matters that aren’t important.”

Aso’s statement is in stark contrast to the Japanese government’s previous attitude concerning the backlash from Korea and China on Japanese Minister Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni shrine. On November 25 in a written interview with Dong-A Ilbo, Foreign Minister Aso noted that for Japan, the relationship with Korea is one of Japan’s most important bilateral relationships. In the interview, Aso also pledged to improve confidence between the two countries through mutual interchanges, develop future-oriented cooperation with appropriate compensation for past-history issues, and work hard to strengthen cooperation on the East Asia affairs front.

In addition, in a response to the indication that Japan’s diplomacy is neglectful of its neighboring countries while only cherishing its relationship with the U.S., Aso emphasized that Japan’s relationships with neighboring countries such as Korea and China is the axis of Japanese diplomacy and as important as Japan’s alliance with the U.S.

Aso’s controversial comments provoked criticism in Japanese diplomatic circles with some saying that they could be interpreted as ignoring criticism from Korea and China.

Meanwhile, Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi stated, “North Korea’s abduction of Japanese is inhumane, and Japan should directly handle the matter,” and remarked on November 25 that Japan plans to create a new post of ambassador for human rights that will fully take charge of the human rights issue in North Korea.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com