Japanese PM Abe's visit to controversial war shrine angers KoreaUpdated: 2013-12-27 AM 10:04:38 (KST)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the anniversary of his first year in office by visiting the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo on Thursday morning.
It's the first time a sitting prime minister has visited the controversial site since Junichiro Koizumi's visit in 2006.
The Yasukuni Shrine honors two-and-a-half million Japanese war dead, including some convicted war criminals.
Abe had previously steered clear of the shrine for fear of further damaging regional ties, choosing instead to send donations.
But the possibility of a visit has always lingered due to the prime minister's strong nationalism and hawkish foreign policies.
Abe told reporters on his way out that he was paying respects to those who sacrificed their lives for Japan, and that he had no intention of upsetting the people of Korea or China.
He added that he hoped to have a chance to explain his actions to the leaders of both neighboring countries.
Korea's Culture Minister Yoo Jin-ryong called Abe's behavior "anachronistic."
"The Korean government can't help but express its deep regret and anger over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit, in defiance of the concerns of Japan's neighbors. The Yasukuni Shrine harbors war criminals and eulogizes Japan's imperialism."
Yoo added Japan should acknowledge its past wrongdoing and build trust with its neighbors, starting with a sincere apology.
Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun summoned Takashi Kurai, the deputy chief of the Japanese embassy in Seoul to relay Seoul's concerns.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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