January 22, 2013 10:08
More than half of the Japanese feel Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should visit the Yasukuni shrine, which houses the remains of Japan's war dead including convicted World War II criminals. The shrine has a museum that glorifies Japan's imperialist adventures in Asia before and during World War II.
According to a survey by Jiji Press of 1,292 Japanese last week, 56.7 percent said Abe should visit the shrine, while only 26.6 percent were against.
That is a significant swing to the right. A similar poll by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun in 2006 showed 43 percent in favor of the prime minister paying his respects at the shrine and 39 percent against it.
"The results may stem from deteriorating public sentiment toward China, which has taken steps to challenge Japan's control of the Senkaku [or Diaoyou] Islands in the East China Sea, such as intrusions into Japanese waters and airspace," the website said.
During the general election, Abe signaled his intention to visit the Yasukuni shrine, saying he felt "bitter grief" at not having visited during his first term as prime minister in 2006. But since his election Abe has been vague about a visit, which is certain to draw Chinese and Korean protests.
When former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni, anti-Japanese protests erupted across China.
Abe, who succeeded Koizumi in 2006, did not visit the shrine and tried to mend ties with Beijing. "If the Japanese prime minister visits Yasukuni, Korea-Japan and China-Japan ties will deteriorate," said one diplomatic source in Tokyo.
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