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Japan minister's shrine visit harms regional ties: MOFA

TAIPEI -- A visit by a Japanese Cabinet-level official to a controversial shrine in Tokyo that commemorates World War II criminals has caused concern and unease in the region, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday.

In a statement, the ministry expressed regret over the visit by Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo to Yasukuni Shrine earlier Saturday, saying that such actions are “not constructive” and would harm regional harmony.

The controversial shrine honors Japanese soldiers who committed atrocities in China, Korea and other countries during WWII.

Japan should seek friendly relations with its neighbors so that all parties can jointly promote regional peace and stability, the ministry urged.

“History should not be forgotten,” the statement said.

Taiwan hopes Japan's government and politicians will look at the facts of history and keep historical lessons in mind to avoid actions that will hurt the feelings of people in neighboring countries, the ministry said.

It also warned that visits to the shrine could further escalate tensions in the East China Sea.

The tensions in the region mainly involve territorial disputes over the Diaoyutai Islands, which have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972 but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

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