About 160 Japanese lawmakers, including Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo, paid a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on Friday. This represents another round of large-scale visits following the previous visits in spring when 168 cabinet members paid homage at the shrine, which also commemorates class-A criminals of World War II.
Japanese politicians have more or less been using these visits as a form of defiance against China's protests. This defiance did not help with the situation, and only made Chinese and Korean people more outraged.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid for an offering to the shrine on Thursday, but did not visit. Analyst said he did not visit because of the pressure from China and South Korea.
Abe may think he has done a lot to ease tensions between Japan and its two neighbors. But to be frank, China and South Korea will not buy that, as Abe has been elusively playing games with the demands made by China and South Korea. There are no real signs to show Abe is trying to break the ice.
It would be foolish for Japan to choose the Yasukuni Shrine to show their stance. This is a case in which Japan is totally isolated in East Asia.
Chinese and Koreans will never accept the Yasukuni Shrine, whether it is a matter of rationality or sensibility. No matter how much trade with Japan grows, or how interdependent their economies are, the positive elements are flushed away once the Japanese politicians stage a group show at the shrine. The Japanese politicians' acts only make one particular belief grow stronger among the Chinese public - "Japan was our enemy in the past, today it is still not our friend, tomorrow it may still be our foe."
The Japanese seem to insist on walking toward a dead end in this issue. The outside world can do nothing but condemn the visits. The dispute around the Yasukuni Shrine persists.
The Chinese are no longer easily angered, as their confidence grows. Japan's reputation in the world is generally not bad, but the Yasukuni issue has become a stain that gives the world a better understanding of this nation.
The Chinese people will continue to express their firm opposition to Japanese politician's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. But the Chinese do not have to be too angry over these shameful acts. The Japanese politicians used to visit the Yasukuni shrine arrogantly, but now their leaders have to show some restraint and "pay their respect" to the shrine in a more insidious way.
The Japan that aims for peaceful modernization appears to be losing its way. Is it going to become a ghost itself, worshiped at the Yasukuni shrine?