TOKYO: Japan’s premier sent a ritual cash offering to a controversial Tokyo war shrine to mark the end of World War 2 Thursday but did not visit in person amid heightened tensions with South Korea.
Shinzo Abe sent an aide to Yasukuni Shrine, seen by Asian neighbors as a symbol of Japan’s military past, according to his office, but once again stayed away from the site that honors Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals.
The conservative premier’s move comes as Tokyo and South Korea—one of the countries that suffered most from Japan’s wartime military atrocities—are embroiled in a war of words over trade and history.
Abe last visited the shrine in December 2013 to mark his first year in power, sparking fury in Beijing and Seoul and earning a rare diplomatic rebuke from close ally the United States.
He has since stayed away as the leaders of both China and Japan attempt to maintain their improving but delicate relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Japan next year during spring cherry blossom season as ties warm between the two Asian giants.
The Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million war dead, mostly Japanese, who perished in the country’s wars since the late 19th century.
It also enshrines senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes by an international tribunal after World War II.