Shinzo Abe became the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the Yasukuni Shrine since 2006, risking an escalation in tensions with China, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. The appearance by Abe at the Tokyo shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war-dead including World War II criminals, drew a rebuke from China in less than an hour, it noted. “Regrettably, it is a reality that the visit to Yasukuni Shrine has become a political and diplomatic issue,” Abe was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office. “It is not my intention at all to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people.” The visit came on the one-year anniversary of Abe’s second ascension to power. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Beijing “strongly” protests Abe’s move. The visit creates substantial political obstacles to China-Japan ties, he said in a statement, adding that Japan must bear all consequences.
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