Group of over 100 Japanese lawmakers visit war-related Yasukuni Shrine

A cross-party group of more than 100 Japanese lawmakers traveled Friday to Yasukuni, a Shinto shrine in Tokyo considered a symbol of Japan’s past militarism by its Asian neighbors, for its Spring Festival.

Hidehisa Otsuji, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and leader of the group, told a press conference that they were ‘praying for world peace which is on the precipice’ amid the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

A group of cross-party lawmakers, led by its leader Hidehisa Otsuji (2nd from L), visit Tokyo’s Yasukuni, a Shinto shrine seen by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, April 22, 2022. (Kyodo) == Kyōdo

Otsuji said he was grateful that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a ritual offering to the shrine on Thursday, the day the annual festival begins.

Yasukuni has long been a source of diplomatic friction with China and South Korea, as the shrine honors convicted war criminals as well as millions of war dead, and Kishida is not expected to visit the site during the festival period. until Friday.

Among the 103 lawmakers who visited the shrine were LDP Election Strategy Chief Toshiaki Endo and ruling party Diet Affairs Chief Tsuyoshi Takagi, according to the group.

Several members of the government, including Shunsuke Mutai, senior vice minister of environment, and Shingo Miyake, parliamentary vice minister of foreign affairs, also joined.

Others were members of the main opposition Democratic Constitutional Party of Japan, the Innovation Party of Japan and independents.

The bipartisan group aims to make continuous visits for the Shrine’s Spring and Fall Festivals and the anniversary of the end of World War II.

Group members resumed mass tours in December for the first time in more than two years after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Normally, the Shrine’s Spring and Autumn Festivals last for three days, but the latest event has again been shortened to two days as part of efforts to prevent virus outbreaks.

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Japanese Prime Minister Kishida sends an offering to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine