Japanese Prime Minister Stokes Anger In Asia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stoke the anger of many in Asia and the United States with a visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which is dedicated to those who managed the nation’s military in the Second World War.

China was quick to condemn the visit and summoned Tokyo’s ambassador on Thursday and delivered a “strong protest” at Abe’s visit to the flashpoint Yasukuni shrine, state media reported. Abe’s visit also raised the ire of South Korea , which described the move as deplorable and summoned a top Japanese diplomat in Seoul to protest.

“We cannot withhold regret and anger over the visit,” said Yoo Jin-ryong, South Korea’s minister of culture, sports and tourism.

In an official statement released after his visit, Abe said, “The peace and prosperity we enjoy today is built on the precious sacrifices of numerous people who perished on the field wishing for the happiness of their loving wives and children, and thinking about their fathers and mothers who had raised them. Today, I have contemplated on this, and paid my deepest respects and gratitude on my visit.”

In the 1960s and 70s, the spirits of scores of convicted Japanese war criminals were “enshrined” there, many of whom were responsible for the conduct of the military, which is viewed by many as being particularly brutal. In 2006, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the shrine.

London’s Telegraph offers a brief backgrounder on the shrine and its importance.

Why did Abe decide to make the visit?

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of BBC News says the reasoning behind Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision top visit is two-fold. First, he wanted to visit the shrine. Second, it is a direct appeal to his political base in the Liberal Democratic Party.

Cold War Revival – At Least Tactically
Anne Applebaum argues that the Cold War has been revived, at least in terms of the tactics employed by China and Russia.

“But although we are not fighting a new Cold War, the tactics of the old Cold War are now, at the dawn of 2014, suddenly being deployed in a manner not seen since the early 1980s. We in the United States may not believe that we are engaged in an ideological struggle with anybody, but other people are engaged in an ideological struggle with us. We in the United States may not believe that there is any real threat to our longtime alliance structures in Europe and Asia, but other people think those alliances are vulnerable and have set out to undermine them,” she writes.

Quick Headlines

The Australian reports on the grim outlook for Christians globally.

Council on Foreign Relations looks forward to what 2014 holds for Afghanistan.

Caroline Baum of Bloomberg offers the top five lessons learned in 2013 that will be forgotten in 2014.

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