Japan's Abe to visit Anne Frank house in gesture to Jews

AMSTERDAM Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:51pm EDT

Reflections of tourists and canal houses are seen in the window of the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Reflections of tourists and canal houses are seen in the window of the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam April 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Kooren

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam on Sunday to highlight Japan's friendship with the Jewish people and sees no contradiction with his recent controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine at home.

The Anne Frank House, where the German-born Jewish girl kept a diary of her life in hiding before she was discovered and died in a Nazi concentration camp, is now one of Europe's best-known memorials to the victims of the holocaust, drawing more than a million visitors per year.

Abe's planned visit comes less than three months after his controversial December 26 visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen by Japan's Asian neighbors as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression, as it honors convicted war criminals as well as others who died in battle.

"On this visit (to the Anne Frank House), we would like to reiterate the lasting and profound friendship between Japan and the Jewish people around the world," a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters.

Asked whether there was a difference between visiting a memorial to Japanese soldiers at home and a memorial to war victims abroad, the spokesman said "there is no contradiction".

He said Yasukuni enshrines 2.46 million souls who died for their country during conflicts since 1853, including both world wars, and that at the time of the visit, Abe issued a pledge that Japan must never wage a war again.

"Acknowledging historical issues in an open manner and passing down the lessons of history to future generations is the first step to pursuing peace," he said.

Yasukuni played a key role in the wartime state Shinto religion which mobilized the population to fight in the name of a divine emperor. China and South Korea, which both have been occupied by Japan, have repeatedly criticized visits by Japanese leaders to the shrine.

Abe - in the Netherlands for a G7 summit - will be the most prominent world leader to visit the Anne Frank house since Israeli President Shimon Peres, former German President Christian Wulff and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"Abe seems more sensitive to Western criticisms of his revisionism than those coming from China or Korea, and in particular of the Jewish American community as represented by the Simon Wiesenthal Center," Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano told Reuters in an email.

He added that Abe's planned visit to the Anne Frank house appears to reflect his desire to send a message to reassure U.S. policymakers more than anyone else.

An official at the Anne Frank House museum said the story of the young diarist is well known in Japan and more than 33,000 Japanese tourists visited the house last year.

The Abe visit to the house comes after a series of incidents in recent months in Japan in which Anne Frank diaries were vandalized in public libraries. A suspect has been arrested.

A government official told reporters last week that there is no direct causal relationship between these incidents and Abe's visit, but said Abe wants to convey the message that many Japanese people are pained by the vandalism.

Abe is expected to have a trilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye

on the sidelines of Monday-Tuesday's nuclear security and G7 summits in The Hague.

Analyst Tobias Harris at political risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence said the meeting will focus on North Korea and is not expected to address the history and territorial issues that have plagued the Japan-South Korea relationship in recent years.

But he added that the ill will generated by Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine remains an obstacle to closer cooperation.

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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Comments (4)
JSCD wrote:
If Abe is serious about honoring Anne Frank’s memory, he would be better advised to address the problem of racism and xenophobia back home in Japan by passing laws against racial discrimination and hate speech. Otherwise, this is just an empty gesture and a PR stunt by Abe.

Mar 23, 2014 9:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
yellowjap wrote:
Refusing criminal, foreign social security eater, and occupation by immigrant is totally different issue.

I feel quite a shame to have mentally ill try to attack fact that war and democracy in populism is simple mess hurting everybody. Especially hurting other culture in foreign is not acceptable at all.

JSCD: It is same issue. We respect foreign is must before asking foreign to respect our way. Same apply to Sunni and Shia, We will stay Japanese. Everybody deny that is not welcome.

Especially removing criminal, social security eaters, and occupation by migration from foreign is not our choice. We have to invite more migration from other area like Africa, Middle East, eastern and western Europe, Indian semi-continent and Russian before accepting any more Koreans and Chinese. They are simply too many abusing our system and honey trapping focusing in US provided defense technology.

Please watch what we are facing.
All sex working girls are Korean coming as tourist. We have around 100,000 average of these sex workers coming from Korea. Chinese is difficult to count, because they sneak in cargo. Our police and immigration control are quite occupied by these 2 in these days. Yakuza is also quite Korean in these days. So, people from these 2 countries are majority in crime scene of Japan.

Mar 24, 2014 8:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bobsmith20 wrote:
Abe and his Aide is going to extreme right direction that will lead the return of the evil imperial Japan army. Accomplishment of Abe in 2013:
1. Deny Tokyo Trial
2. Deny comfort women
3. Deny WWII war crimes
4. Changing constitution for imperail army return and bring back evil emperor to be head of States.
5. Openly admitted himself an extreme right member in front of UN.
6. Increase military spending even under US protection.
7. Worshipped the ghostly WWII war criminals Shrine as an great insult to all WWII victims. There is no hero there.
8. Keeping the stolen islands that is not belong to Japan.
9. Changing school text and put incorrect history to school children.
10. Still not repent from WWII compare with Germany which is much much better than Japan.
11. Hiding the nuclear weapon materials which violates the constitution.

Abe: Honor to history but not to your WWII uncles.

Mar 24, 2014 9:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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