Dec. 26 - A controversial move by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe generates backlash in the region. Julie Noce reports.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe angered countries in the region Thursday by visiting a controversial shrine that honours Japan's war dead. The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is dedicated to those who died in war- as well as Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal. Chinese and South Korean leaders have consistently critised Japanese politicians who visit the shrine. As he was leaving, Abe said he prayed for those who lost their lives and that he didn't mean to offend anyone. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER, SHINZO ABE, SAYING: "I have absolutely no intention of hurting the feelings of the people of China and Korea from the very beginning. That is the same thinking of all the prime ministers before me who have visited Yasukuni Shrine." Still, the move was not taken lightly. A spokesperson for the South Korean government said it was impossible NOT to express anger over the act and said the shrine beautifies war. And in China, a similar sentiment. The Chinese government condemned Japanese leaders for ruthlessly trampling the feelings of Chinese people, a foreign ministry spokesperson said. We urge Japan to reflect on its' history of aggression. Some political experts say Abe likely chose to visit the shrine now because his high voter ratings could withstand the criticism and that it would help shore up support amongst his conservative base. The visit marks the first time a sitting Japanese prime minister has visited the shrine since 2006.