Home > News > Regional
Thursday August 28, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday August 28, 2014 MYT 7:43:44 AM
Men clad in Japanese Imperial Army and Navy uniforms stand at attention at the entrance to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, August 15, 2014
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a message to a memorial service dedicated to World War II war criminals, organisers said in a move that could prompt anger from Asian neighbours.
In the ceremony organised by former Japanese military officers, some 220 people prayed before a cenotaph on which the names of around 1,180 suspected and convicted World War II war criminals are inscribed, organisers said.
They include 14 “Class A” war criminals, who are also enshrined at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a spot seen in mainland Asia as a symbol of Japan’s past aggression.
The service took place on April 29 at a temple in Wakayama prefecture in western Japan, and the master of the ceremony read the message from Abe, an organiser said.
In his message, Abe said: “I express my grief at the death of martyrs ... who sacrificed their lives to form the foundation of peace and prosperity in Japan today,” according to two participants and a report by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
“I pledge to work towards the future harmonious coexistence of human beings, and hope for eternal peace,” the message said.
The ceremony has been held annually since 1994 when the cenotaph was established by Masashi Tsuno, a man arrested in the Philippines on suspicion of war crimes at the end of hostilities, but who was later acquitted.
Tsuno’s supporters believe that the punishments meted out by the Tokyo Tribunals in the years after the war represented little more than victors’ justice perpetrated in revenge.
Organiser Kazuaki Naka, 75, said the service has been held “to console the souls of war dead, who sacrificed their lives for their home country, whether their executions were fair or unfair”.
Buddhism holds that descendents and those who outlive friends, colleagues or neighbours have a duty to care for the spirits of the dead.
The religion is practised alongside native Shintoism in Japan, an animistic belief system that also places obligations on the living to seek the repose of dead souls.
Abe’s message to the ceremony could prove another thorn in the side of relations with China and South Korea, both of which have been angered by his visit to Yasukuni last December and his equivocation on Japan’s wartime wrongdoing.
Top government spokesman
Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on Abe’s message, insisting it had been sent in his capacity as “a private person (and) president of the Liberal Democratic Party, and not as the Prime Minister”.
He added that Japan had accepted the findings of the Tokyo Tribunals when it signed the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951. — AFP
Tags / Keywords:
Japan slams brakes on Uber taxi service
It's raining cats and tourists on a Japanese island
Japanese firm: Ebola drug tests offer hope
Are you a work junkie? Like all addictions, overworking is bad for you
Japan shrugs off South Korean calls on ‘comfort women’
Australia complains over Indonesia's treatment of death row prisoners
Pakistan's ruling party gaining in upper house election
Iran hints might be open to 10-year partial freeze of nuclear work
Nine months’ jail and caning for Germans
Palestinian leaders say they'll cut security coordination with Israel
Libya factions hold peace talks in Morocco
Splashing fun at pool party
Condo project boasts of an award-winning design with fabulous facilities
Vettel's Ferrari story is sure to be red
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)