TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who angered China and other Asian neighbours when he visited a controversial Japanese war shrine last year, paid a visit to a Japanese warship in the western Pacific on Tuesday and signed a security pact with Washington.FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Haruka hold a picture with Japan’s national flag as they walk after their visit to the Shirakawa naval station in Kawasaki, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 27, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
The visit was the latest by a Japanese leader to a shrine in Tokyo’s main prefecture of Shiga, where Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko last week paid an emotional tribute to Japan’s wartime atrocities and the pacifist constitution.
Talks on a security pact between the United States and Japan, one of the world’s most fragile democracies, were also on the agenda.
Abe was due to mark the 80th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a visit to Japan’s international war memorials.
China and South Korea have already expressed displeasure with his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.
Abe, who supported the 1982 “comfort women” scandal, reacted angrily to a push for the return of the scandal’s victims, as well as the creation of a fund to help the victims, to be used by Japan.
“Japan has a peace ethic and values and our goal is to return peace to the world,” he said in brief remarks.“However, a clause regarding ‘comfort women’ has to be looked into. It is a question of public importance.”
The shrine, located in Tokyo’s Shiga prefecture in the Tokugawa era, houses some of Japan’s most revered figures, including Yasukuni members of the military who were convicted of war crimes including murder, torture and sexual slavery.