Abe sends offering to shrine honouring Japan's war dead

Abe sends offering to shrine honouring Japan's war dead

In December 2013, Abe sparked an uproar in Japan and overseas, particularly in South Korea and China, by visiting Yasukuni Shrine after he returned to power a year earlier. Japan's internal affairs minister, who usually visits the shrine during the festival, as she did this year, tried to justify lawmakers' shrine visits and offerings in response to global criticism.

The Tokyo shrine honors 14 Class-A war criminals from Japan's imperialistic era among millions of Japanese people who died in service for the country.

Around 95 members of parliament paid their respects en masse on Friday, NHK national television said, including communications minister Sanae Takaichi, who usually visits during the shrine's twice-yearly festivals and on August 15, the anniversary of Japan's World War Two surrender.

Seiichi Eto, an Abe aide in the Upper House, also made a visit.

Non-major Cabinet ministers often make regular visits and may drop by the shrine at some point during the festival, which ends Sunday.

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Japanese politicians' visits to the shrine have been met with angry reactions from South Korea and China, which view the temple as a key symbol of Japan's militaristic past.

On Friday, South Korea voiced "deep concerns and regret" over Abe's ritual tree offering.

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki sent a ritual offering, like Abe, but neither was expected to visit, NHK added.

According to the ministry's statement, the Yasukuni Shrine "glorifies colonialism and conquest wars, honors war criminals".

The Abe administration is probably keen to avoid straining ties with China after emphasizing the importance of China taking on a greater role in urging North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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