2 ministers eye visit to Yasukuni Shrine on WWII anniversary

Two ministers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet refused to rule out the possibility Thursday that they would visit the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo on Aug. 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

After Abe said earlier this week he would not prevent his ministers from visiting the shrine, while declining comment on whether he would do so himself, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and administrative reform minister Tomomi Inada both said they will decide later whether or not to visit it.

Inada also told reporters she thinks it "permissible as a (citizen of a) sovereign state to offer thanks and respect to people who sacrificed their lives for the state."

"I will decide and act appropriately as a Cabinet member," she said.

Shindo told a separate news conference he is currently considering whether to visit the shrine where his ancestors are enshrined, noting that he has repeatedly done so.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is top government spokesman, told his morning news conference that he would not make any comment on whether or not Cabinet ministers should visit the shrine.

Japan's neighbors, such as China and South Korea, view the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class A war criminals as well as millions of Japan's war dead, as a symbol of Japan's militarism and have criticized previous visits to the shrine by prime ministers and lawmakers.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who visited the shrine in April during its annual spring festival, said he would not visit the shrine on the anniversary, noting that he has rarely done so on Aug. 15.

Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto said he has already visited the shrine this summer.

National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya, who also visited the shrine in April, just said he would take a "timely and appropriate decision," while five more ministers including Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida did not make clear comments.

Six other ministers, meanwhile, made clear that they have no plans to visit the shrine on the anniversary: economic revitalization minister Akira Amari; Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera; Ichita Yamamoto, minister in charge of Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs; Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi; Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota; and Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara.