BEIJING, April 22 -- Despite fresh protests from Beijing and Seoul, a Japanese cabinet minister and nearly 150 lawmakers on Tuesday paid homage to a war shrine, showing their infatuation with militarism and aggravating regional tensions.
With U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo around the corner, the repeated shrine visits are also embarrassing for Obama and reflect the dwindling influence Washington has on Japan's right-wing politicians.
A response from Japan's neighbors or Washington over the shrine visit would be no surprise to Japan. Leader Shinzo Abe's visit late last year deeply soured Japan's relations with Asian neighbors and earned the country a diplomatic slap on the wrist from Washington, which said it was "disappointed" by the visit.
The shrine, which honors 14 WWII class-A war criminals, is a negative asset for Japan and has been repeatedly used by right-wing politicians to show their historical denialism and serve their goal of steering their country down a rightist path reminiscent of militarism.
The shrine visit is a provocation to Japan's neighbors, which fell victim to the country's aggression during WWII. The shrine has become a destructive factor in relations between Japan and its neighbors.
Rather than thoroughly reflecting on their view of history and correcting their acts, some Japanese right-wing politicians have resorted to double-faced tactics.
For example, politicians did not visit the shrine in person in order to avoid criticism from Washington and ensure the success of Obama's visit, but they dedicated trees or other offerings to the shrine with an aim to appease domestic right-wing forces.
The whole world should stay alert to some Japanese politicians' tactics and the country's future trend. It is in no country's interest to see Japan go down the rightist path.
It is fundamental for Japan to face up to and reflect on its history of militarist aggression and to make a clean break with militarism. The first step is to stop visits to the symbolic war shrine.