Japan defense minister visits Yasukuni Shrine
Jiji -- Dec 30
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada visited war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo Thursday, her first visit there since she became the country's top defense official in August.

Inada's move drew protests from Beijing and Seoul. In China and South Korea, the shrine is regarded as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, because Class-A World War II criminals are enshrined.

The visit by Inada, known for her conservative historic and political views, may affect Japan's security cooperation with South Korea to deal with North Korea's missile and nuclear development. Tokyo's defense exchanges with Beijing may also be affected.

Inada was the first defense minister to visit the shrine since Japan launched the Defense Ministry in January 2007 by reorganizing the Defense Agency. Gen Nakatani, who visited Yasukuni Shrine as defense head on Aug. 15, 2002, is believed to be the most recent predecessor of Inada that made such a visit.

稲田防衛大臣が29日朝、東京・九段北の靖国神社を参拝しました。今年8月に防衛大臣に就任してから初めてです。 稲田防衛大臣:「真珠湾に総理が行かれ、慰霊の言葉を述べられた。
News sources: Jiji, ANNnewsCH
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