Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes ritual offering at shrine for WW2 war dead as region preparing to improve impaired ties
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made on Thursday a ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine which is a symbol of the country's expansionist policy in World War II as the Asian nations are ahead of a meeting to restore impaired relations.
The offering would come under criticism due to top governmental officials traditionally visiting the shrine which honours convicted war criminals among other war dead, turning a blind eye on Japan's wartime wrongdoings.
An official in the shrine's public relations department confirmed the offering.
The move also came as Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to pay a visit to Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on April 30 to ease the controversial issues between two countries, including sovereignty disputes over the South China Sea, according to Japanese media.
"I am aware that the prime minister sent a 'masakaki' offering," chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
"He did it as a private person and did not use public funds," he added.
Abe's last visit to the shrine in December 2013 got negative reaction from China and South Korea and provoked rare criticism from key ally the United States.
Abe has sent ritual offerings to the annual spring and autumn festivals since he became premier in 2013.