Because of the war criminals enshrined there, and because of an on-site museum that plays down the brutality of Japan’s Imperial Army, Yasukuni has long served as ground zero in Asia’s vexing debate about decades-old history.
在日本，由于供奉着战犯，并且一家遗址博物馆又刻意淡化日本帝国主义军队（Japan’s Imperial Army）的残暴罪行，靖国神社（Yasukuni）再次激起了亚洲人民对尘封了几十年历史的愤怒。
Leaders in China and South Korea believe Japan has never made proper amends for invading and occupying their territories in the run-up to World War II. Conservatives in Japan, Abe among them, tend to view that era as a high point of Japanese glory and ambition — all while rationalizing the army’s systematic use of sex slaves.
How Abe addresses Japan’s history, analysts say, will largely define relations with China and South Korea in coming years. On Thursday, the 68th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, Abe appeared to search for a narrow middle ground, trying to demonstrate his personal support for the shrine without causing diplomatic damage.
Abe has spoken admiringly of Yasukuni many times, and he visited it in October, two months before his election as prime minister. But a return to the shrine as Japan’s leader would have sparked anger not just from Seoul and Beijing but also from Washington, which is pressing Abe to help reduce regional tensions.
Still, Abe made little headway with his show of relative restraint. Two of his cabinet ministers paid their respects at Yasukuni, as did dozens of lower-ranking lawmakers. A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman called those visits “deplorable,” adding that the shrine “glorifies the history of imperialistic invasion.” Meanwhile, China summoned the Japanese ambassador in Beijing to protest the visits.
In Seoul, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, addressing the nation to mark its Liberation Day, said historical issues have cast a “dark shadow” over relations with Japan. “In the absence of courage enough to face the past,” Park said, “it will be difficult to build the trust necessary for our future.”
8月15日为韩国光复节（Liberation Day），韩国总统朴槿惠（Park Geun-hye）当天在首尔发表演讲称，日本对待历史问题的态度让日韩的外交关系蒙上了阴影。朴槿惠说：“日本缺乏正视历史的勇气，双方想要建立互信关系将会非常困难。
Park acknowledged, however, that many Japanese take issue with Abe’s historical narrative, viewing World War II and the period preceding it as exemplifying military ambition run amok.
One high-profile politician has already paid a price for controversial comments about the past. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, known for his nationalist views, said in May that the sex slaves — euphemistically called “comfort women” — who were forcibly recruited by Japanese occupation troops in China, Korea, the Philippines and other Asian nations were a “necessary” part of war. He was lambasted on Japanese Web sites and his party was trounced in upper-house elections in July, turning from a middling power into an afterthought.
Abe has preserved his own popularity by focusing on economic issues during his nine months in office. Some analysts fear that, emboldened by his ruling party’s parliamentary victory last month, he might now be more willing to court controversy by talking about Japan’s past. If he does, it could further exacerbate tensions between South Korea and Japan, the United States’ two closest allies in the region, while complicating Washington-brokered attempts at military coordination.
“The best that Japan and South Korea can arrange for now is a [verbal] cease-fire — no opening of these historical issues by Abe and instead focusing on positive areas of cooperation,” said Michael J. Green, senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But there is no simple concluding arrangement that will make this go away.”
“就目前而言，最好的办法就是让日韩两国停止“口水战”。不要让安倍再开启这些历史争论，两国应该更加着眼于其他领域的积极合作关系”，国际战略研究中心（the Center for Strategic and International Studies）驻亚洲高级副总裁迈克尔·格林（Michael Green）说，“但是要真正意义上消除两国之间的矛盾，达成共识却非易事
In the past year, Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have sharply deteriorated, with historical differences at the root. Japan is locked into a naval cat-and-mouse game with China around a string of disputed islands. South Korea and Japan have their own territorial dispute, although it is far less volatile. Their relationship has suffered more from contentious rhetoric and symbolic gestures by politicians.
Both Abe and Park, who took office in February, are hemmed in by domestic skepticism. Polls suggest surging distrust between Japanese and South Koreans. Park and Abe have not held a summit or shown interest in doing so, breaking a tradition of meetings between Japanese and South Korean leaders soon after taking office. Park has proposed a multilateral dialogue for peace in northeast Asia while also taking swipes at Japan, calling it “blind to the past.”
“If you close a door to a leader [like Abe] in a systematic way, how can you lead a so-called northeast Asian peace process?” said Bong Young-shik, a senior research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “You can’t only deal with countries you like.”