EDITOR, The Tribune.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo has been largely misrepresented in an article by HE Mr Yuan Guisan, Ambassador of China which appeared in The Tribune dated 22 January, 2014.
Regarding the said visit, Prime Minister Abe announced in his December 26th statement entitled, “Pledge for Everlasting Peace”, that his intention to visit Yasukuni Shrine was to pledge never to wage war again.
Moreover, it should be noted that Prime Minister Abe also visited another remembrance memorial in Yasukuni Shrine, Chinreisha, to pray for the souls of all wartime casualties, including foreign nationals. His visit was by no means to pay homage to A class war criminals, and should not be compared to a visit to Hitler’s grave.
His visit was indeed a prayer for peace.
Prime Minister Abe stated that “Japan must never wage war again. This is my conviction based on the severe remorse for the past”. He also pledged that Japan must build an age which is free from the sufferings caused by the devastation of war; that Japan must be a country which joins hands with its friends in Asia and friends around the world to realize peace worldwide.
The Prime Minister reiterated that it is not his intention at all to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people. It is the wish of the Prime Minister to respect each other’s character, protect freedom and democracy and build friendships respectfully with China and Korea, in the same spirit as all the previous Prime Ministers who had visited Yasukuni Shrine before.
Prime Minister Abe also underscored that during the past 68 years since World War II, Japan has firmly established itself as a free and democratic country and has consistently walked the path of peace. Japan will continue to pursue this path in the spirit of international cooperation, and to assume its responsibilities for the peace, stability and prosperity of the world. The allegation by the Chinese Ambassador is utterly unfounded.
Previous statements by Japanese Prime Ministers make it clear that Japan is of the position that, in the past, Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian countries.
By sincerely facing these facts, Japan has expressed its feelings of deep and heartfelt apology as well as mourning for all victims both at home and abroad. This reflects the feelings of the Abe Cabinet.
As the Prime Minister Abe has stated, and is widely recognised, Japan is a peaceful and war-renouncing nation and this too will remain unchanged.
Japan places emphasis on its relationships with China , as important neighbours and is actively engaged in trying to improve this relationship.
The ambassador refers to the case of Germany in Europe, but one should recall that the reconciliation was achieved through face to face dialogue. As Prime Minister Abe repeatedly emphasises, we welcome dialogue and our door is always open.
HE YASUO TAKASE
Ambassador of Japan to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
March 13, 2014.