U.S. lawmaker says Abe's visit to Yasukuni inadvisable
A visiting U.S. congressional leader told Japanese lawmakers on Feb. 17 that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Yasukuni Shrine was ill-advised and will only benefit China.
U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the remark at a meeting in Tokyo of the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary League. The congressman from California was commenting on Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni, which memorializes not only Japan’s war dead but also 14 Class-A war criminals.
The visit prompted criticism worldwide, with the most vocal complaints coming from China, South Korea and the United States.
In response to Royce’s remark, the league’s chairman, Hirofumi Nakasone, an Upper House lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said, “Abe honored the war dead and made a pledge not to fight a war again.”
However, the explanation apparently failed to win over Royce and the other U.S. congressional representatives in attendance.
In late January, Royce offered flowers to a “comfort woman” memorial statue in California. The term refers to women who were forced to provide sex for wartime Japanese soldiers.
On the issue of comfort women, Nakasone told Royce and the other U.S. lawmakers, “I want you to know that Japan’s successive Cabinets have dealt with the issue in a sincere manner.”
After meeting Nakasone and other executives of the league, the U.S. congressional members held a meeting with Abe, in which both sides agreed that Japan and the United States should work closely to solve the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.