Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, Japan, 26 December 2013. (EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON)

Japan's neighbors and many netizens are outraged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine on Thursday. It was the first time since 2006 that a sitting Japanese prime minister had visited the shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals. In parts of Asia, the shrine is seen as a symbol of militarism in Japan's past.

Abe told the country's neighbors, "I have no intention to neglect the feelings of the people in China and South Korea". However, the two countries condemned the visit. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, "The essence of Japanese leaders' visits to the Yasukuni shrine is to beautify Japan's history of militaristic aggression and colonial rule".
 
In Seoul, leaders expressed anger in a press release: