Abe Aide Told to Delete Video Criticizing U.S. Over Shrine Issue

An aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was instructed to delete a video in which he expressed disappointment over the U.S. reaction to the Japanese premier’s December visit to a Tokyo war shrine.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo he had directed Seiichi Eto, a member of the upper house of parliament and a special adviser to the prime minister, to delete the video from YouTube because it expressed a personal view rather than the government position.

The U.S. embassy last year issued a statement saying the government was “disappointed” by Abe paying his respects at the Yasukuni Shrine on Dec. 26, adding his action would “exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors.” Animosity with China and South Korea over separate territorial disputes was worsened by Abe’s visit to the shrine, which is seen by many in both countries as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

“America said it was disappointed, but we are the ones who are disappointed they said that,” Eto said in a video posted to YouTube on Feb. 16. “Why doesn’t America value its ally Japan?”

Eto went on to say that the U.S. was trying to appease China with its statement.

“You may think the ’disappointed’ statement was directed at Japan, but that’s not the case. They are telling China that they are disappointed. My understanding is that it’s just an excuse they are making to China,” he said.

‘Wrong’ View

“There are still some political powers in Japan that are sticking to the wrong historical view,” China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said today when asked about Eto’s remarks. Their comments are in line with “the wrong acts taken by Japanese leaders in recent days,” she said.

Suga said there had been no contact from the U.S. government about Eto’s video and he expected there would be little effect on bilateral ties as the video had been removed from the Internet. He told reporters earlier that it’s Japanese government policy to seek understanding for the Yasukuni visit with “humility, politeness and sincerity.”

“A special adviser to the prime minister is a member of the cabinet, and so I told him to delete these personal opinions,” Suga said. He said Eto would remain in his position.

To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net; Maiko Takahashi in Tokyo at mtakahashi61@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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