Japan-Korea premiers' meeting in doubt over shrine visit

Friday, October 28, 2005

During talks between the respective Foreign Ministers, Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean minister has expressed doubt that his country's President would be able to visit Japan due to opinion regarding Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. The Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister described the prospects for such a visit as "grim".

Ban is currently on a visit for talks with his Japanese counterpart, Nobutaka Machimura where he said that the "people of South Korea were disappointed" at the Koizumi's visit to the controversial shrine.

The Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to the spirits of dead Japanese soldiers, originally constructed in 1869. The controversy arose as a result of the shrine honouring a number of convicted war criminals. The shrine's policy was to honour all fallen Japanese soldiers, which was not an issue at the time. However, the perception of the shrine in the eyes of some Asian countries occupied during the Second World War is that it is a rallying point for right-wing and nationalist groups within Japan. Japanese peace movements view the shrine in a similar light.