On December 26th, Shinzo Abe paid his respects to Japan’s war dead at the Yasukuni shrine.
The US expressed disappointment at the visit, the first by a sitting Japanese prime minister since 2006. Others expressed disgust. No reaction was stronger than the one from Seoul. Washington’s two main allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, can’t get along, and that animosity undermines America’s ability to defend them.
Abe said his visit to the Shinto shrine was personal, and meant “to convey my resolve that people never again suffer the horrors of war,” but few in Asia accepted the explanation. Fourteen “Class A” war criminals, including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo, are enshrined at Yasukuni, and visits there are deeply resented throughout East Asia, even in countries maintaining good relations with Tokyo.