Abe defends shrine visits amid tensions with China and South Korea

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday there is no problem for his Cabinet members to visit the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, even if there is criticism from China or South Korea.

“My ministers will not yield to any kind of intimidation,” Abe said during a session of parliament. “It’s a matter of course to secure the freedom to express one’s respect and worship to precious souls of the war dead.”

Abe made the remarks at a time when China and South Korea, which see Yasukuni as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, have sternly protested against the visits to the Tokyo shrine by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and two other Cabinet members last weekend, as well as Tuesday’s mass homage there by 168 Japanese lawmakers.

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