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U.S. newspapers warn against Abe's visit to war shrine

Major U.S. newspapers on Friday published editorials on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial war shrine, warning against risky nationalism and military adventures behind the move.

A New York Times editorial noted that it had been seven years since a sitting Japanese prime minister visited the Yasukuni Shrine, "a recognition at the highest levels that the site is symbolically repugnant to China and South Korea and that such a visit is detrimental to relations with them."

Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine on Thursday that honors Japan's war dead, including war criminals from World War II, is part of his agenda to "pursue his goal of transforming the Japanese military from one that is strictly for territorial defense to one that can go to war anywhere," said the editorial titled "Risky nationalism in Japan".

Abe's ultimate goal is to rewrite Japan's pacifist Constitution, which restricts the right to go to war, it said, adding that it is a move Japanese Emperor Akihito disapproves.

A few days before Abe's visit to the shrine, the emperor, in comments marking his 80th birthday, expressed his "deep appreciation" toward those who wrote the post-1945 constitution in order to preserve the "precious values of peace and democracy," the editorial said.

It also called on the U.S. government to send a clear message to Abe that his agenda is "not in the region's interest", as Japan 's military adventures are not possible without U.S. support.

"What is needed in Asia is trust among states, and his actions undermine that trust," the editorial said.

A Wall Street Journal editorial took notice that Abe's visit triggered criticism from China, South Korea and the U.S., which it said is "a strange coalition that highlights the enduring delicacy of East Asian politics nearly 70 years after World War II."

It is "troubling enough" that some senior Japanese officials persist in whitewashing the truth about chemical weapons, sex slavery and other wartime atrocities, said the editorial titled " Shinzo Abe's Yasukuni Offense."

Japan's offenses against truth become strategic liabilities when they hurt the ability of like-minded states to promote a peaceful, liberal regional order, it added.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 27Dec13]

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