The Korea Herald


S. Korea expresses regret as Japan honors war dead

By Choi Si-young

Published : April 21, 2023 - 15:21

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The South Korean flag (right) and Japanese flag. (123rf) The South Korean flag (right) and Japanese flag. (123rf)

South Korea on Friday expressed regret over mass visits by Japanese lawmakers to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a move Seoul sees as an attempt to whitewash Tokyo’s wartime wrongs since the shrine honors 14 World War II leaders convicted as war criminals.

Earlier in the same day, some 90 lawmakers from several political parties paid their respects, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sending an offering to the shrine. He has done so five times since October 2021, when he took office. A personal visit usually draws stronger condemnation from neighbors like Korea and China.

“We express deep disappointment and regret that the Japanese leaders have again sent offerings and made visits to the shrine that beautifies wartime aggression and houses war criminals,” the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said in a statement.

Japanese leaders should face up to their history and show action that “demonstrates humble reflection on the past and sincere repentance for it,” the ministry added.

Mass visits to the shrine usually take place during Japan’s spring and autumn festivals and on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II. That is also the day the Korean Peninsula was liberated from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.