Japan minister visits war dead shrine day after Abe sends offering

Japan minister visits war dead shrine day after Abe sends offering

TOKYO - A Japanese cabinet member visited a shrine for war dead on Saturday a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prompted angry responses from China and South Korea by sending a ritual offering there.

Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine is widely seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism and visits there by politicians anger China and South Korea, which both suffered under Japanese occupation in the last century and feel Japan has never fully atoned for its actions.

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi, who is a regular visitor to the shrine, went there on Saturday after telling reporters this week she wanted to pay her respects to those who have died in wars.

The shrine honours wartime leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals along with millions of war dead.

Several other ministers could also visit this weekend as the shrine celebrates its autumn festival.

Abe outraged Beijing and Seoul by visiting Yasukuni in person in December 2013. He has said he visited not to glorify war, but to honour those who fought and died for their country.

But he has stayed away from the shrine since the 2013 visit, instead sending offerings on key dates, seeking to tread a fine line between his conservative convictions and the diplomatic imperative to improve ties with China.

Japanese forces occupied parts of China before and during World War Two, while Japan colonised Korea from 1910 to 1945.

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