Japan ministers visit shrine for war dead

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 17, 2012 7:43 PM
Japan ministers visit shrine for war dead

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's land minister and postal minister visited a controversial shrine for war dead on Thursday in a move which could further strain relations between neighboring China and Korea, already tense over territorial disputes.

The two ministers' pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many in the region as a symbol of Japan's war-time militarism, came a day after Japan's main opposition party leader and possible next prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited there.

Land minister Yuichiro Hata and postal minister Mikio Shimoji were among a group of nonpartisan lawmakers visiting the shrine during its autumn festival.

Fourteen Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honored at the shrine along with other war dead.

Hata told reporters his visit was "private".

"I visited as a secretary general of the People's New Party. It won't be a big diplomatic problem," Kyodo quoted Shimoji as saying.

Sino-Japanese relations have soured sharply in the past month when a row over disputed islands led to violent anti-Japanese protests across China and badly hurt trade.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Chris Gallagher)