World Bulletin / News Desk
According to local news agency Kyodo, Shinzo Abe’s "masakaki" tree offering to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine was made under the name of the prime minister.
The Yasukuni Shrine has been a source of tension between Japan and its neighbors, particularly China and South Korea, as it honors 14 war criminals convicted by the Allies in the trials that followed the war.
The premier had visited Yasukuni in December 2013, in a move also criticized by the United States as it wants Tokyo and Seoul to set aside their historical grievances in order to cooperate more fully in the defense of Northeast Asia.
Concerns have also been expressed in neighboring countries as Abe has been working toward expanding the role of Japan’s self-defense forces after his cabinet decided in 2014 to re-interpret the country’s pacifist post-World War II constitution.
Kyodo reported Monday that with summit talks with China and South Korea expected later this year, Abe is unlikely to visit the Shinto shrine for its four-day annual autumn festival.
Ritual offerings were also made by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki, House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima and House of Councillors President Chuichi Date.