Over 100 Japanese lawmakers visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine

Tokyo: More than 100 Japanese lawmakers visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Friday on the occasion of the shrine’s spring festival despite concerns from its neighbouring countries.

The group comprised Hidehisa Otsuji from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with the party’s election strategy chief Toshiaki Endo and the ruling party’s Diet affairs chief Tsuyoshi Takagi, reports Xinhua news agency.

Other notable attendees included Shunsuke Mutai, senior vice minister for the environment, and Shingo Miyake, parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs.

Of the 103 cross-party members were also representatives from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japan Innovation Party, as well as a contingent of independent lawmakers.

The group’s visit to the shrine, a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, followed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday sending a ritual offering.

Yasukuni Shrine, seen by neighbouring countries as a symbol of Japan’s past and brutal militarism, has long been a source of diplomatic friction as it honors convicted war criminals together with the war dead.

It honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million war dead from World War II .

Friday’s visit comes as the Japanese government is seeking to improve ties with South Korea under President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who is sending a delegation to Tokyo from Sunday for talks with lawmakers, diplomats and business leaders here ahead of his inauguration on May 10.

Visiting dignitaries from overseas including prime ministers and presidents who wish to pay their respects to the lives lost during the war visit the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery as this is an internationally accepted resting place.

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