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Abe faces diplomatic backlash over shrine visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe' s visit to the controversial war-linked Yasukuni Shrine may lead to collapse of his administration, a Japanese political commentator told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

The political commentator also said the worship made Japan trustless in the international community.

Jiro Honzawa, who once was a veteran political reporter and accompanied with then Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira on a China visit in December 1979, told Xinhua Monday that Abe failed to perform his duty as a prime minister by making Japan lose credibility among the international community.

Despite strong opposition from neighboring countries, Abe on Thursday visited the notorious shrine which honors Japan's war dead including 14 class-A war criminals in World War II. It is the first time in seven years that a sitting Japanese prime minister visited the notorious shrine. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a visit in August 2006.

The visit has drawn widespread condemnations at home and abroad, especially from Japan's neighboring countries that suffered Japanese brutal wartime aggression, as the Yasukuni Shrine, which Honzawa called as a shrine of war, is considered a spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese aggression in World War II.

Honzawa said Japan's key ally had demonstrated its indignation over Abe's shrine visit, referring to a statement issued by the U. S. embassy in Tokyo after Thursday's visit which said the country was "disappointed" over Abe's act which "will exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors".

The commentator went on to say that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon also released a statement over the shrine visit, showing the international community is saying "no" to Abe's challenge against post-war international order and justice.

Visit to Yasukuni Shrine by a prime minister is actually related to the government's attitude toward wartime history and the political basis of Japan-China relations, said the expert, adding Abe does not bother to reflect over past history.

"Abe aims at boosting Japan's military forces and planting nationalist sentiment among the Japanese people by using conflicts between Japan and its neighboring countries," Honzawa said.

In fact, Abe's thought is deeply influenced by his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, who was then minister of industry for much of the war and arrested after Japan's surrender, but was never charged and went on to serve as prime minister, Honzawa said.

After the worship, Abe made a "pledge for everlasting peace", claiming "Japan must never wage a war again".

However, Honzawa said the prime minister is lying. "If the prime minister really means what he said, what he has to do is to maintain current war-renouncing pacifist constitution" rather than revising it, he said. "Abe's acts belie his words." "If the prime minister does take feelings of Chinese and Korean peoples into consideration, he will not pay the visit," the expert added.

Honzawa predicted that Abe would worship the Yasukushi Shrine in the future but repeated visit will increase public antipathy over such a move.

A latest survey also showed that about 47.1 percent of those surveyed said it "was not good" that Abe visited the shrine, exceeding 43.2 percent who appreciated it, while 54.6 percent of the respondents supported the idea to create a new facility, instead of the Yasukuni, for people to worship the war dead, compared with 32.9 percent who did not.

"The planned sales tax hike will be carried out in April. At that time, Abe's administration would be punched if the plan is impeded and that would put the administration at the risk of collapse at any time," Honzawa said.

A Kyodo News poll in late December showed the approval rate for Abe's cabinet at 54.2 percent, dipping from the 62.0 percent right after he took office on Dec. 26, 2012.

Honzawa said if the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's small ruling partner the New Komeito Party could quit form the ruling bloc, it will probably accelerate the falling of Abe's administration.

The small ruling party also criticized Abe's shrine visit. Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the party, called the visit " regrettable" and said his party had consistently urged the prime minister not to visit the shrine.

[Source: By Liu Tian, Guo Yina, Xinhua, Tokyo, 31Dec13]

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