TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan expressed "regret" over the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a controversial shrine honoring Japanese soldiers who perished in World War II, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
Foreign Minister David Lin said the Taiwanese government is "extremely regretful" and cannot accept the move made by the Japanese prime minister, who visited Yasukuni Shrine yesterday morning.
The visit "hurts the feelings of people in neighbouring countries as well as Japan's ties with those countries," the minister said.
Lin called on the Japanese government to look squarely at historical facts, deeply reflect on them and work to develop friendly relations with other countries.
Abe visited the controversial shrine yesterday morning, one year after he took office. It was the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi went to mark the end of WWII in 2006.
According to foreign media reports, Abe said his visit to Yasukuni was "to pledge and determine that never again will people suffer in war." He said it was "not intended to hurt Chinese or South Koreans."
The shrine is controversial as it honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 WWII war criminals who committed atrocities in China, Korea, and other Asia-Pacific countries. Both China and South Korea have condemned the visits.