South Korea on Tuesday condemned a visit by Japanese lawmakers to a controversial war shrine, saying Tokyo should “think hard” about its impact on countries that suffered wartime occupation.
“The Yasukuni shrine is a place that glorifies war and enshrines war criminals,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young told reporters.
“Some claim views on history can differ. But I would like to emphasise that what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong,” Cho said.
Some 168 Japanese lawmakers visited the Yasukuni shrine in central Tokyo on Tuesday.
The shrine honors 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leading war criminals, but is seen by Japan’s neighbors like South Korea and China as a symbol of its wartime aggression.
“Senior Japanese officials should reflect hard on what neighboring countries think about their visit and on why a potential visit to Japan is being canceled,” Cho said.
South Korea shelved a proposed trip to Japan by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se on Monday in protest against an earlier Yasukuni visit by Japanese cabinet ministers.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, China blasted the visits as a denial of Japan’s wartime history of attacking its Asian neighbors.
“No matter in what capacity or form Japanese leaders visit Yasukuni Shrine, in essence it is an attempt to deny Japan’s history of aggression,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference.