TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine, the Kyodo news agency said on Friday, a move that might complicate his push for bilateral meetings with leaders in China and South Korea.
Yasukuni is seen by critics at home and abroad as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism because wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honoured there along with millions of war dead.
Abe, who is currently attending a meeting of Asian and European leaders in Milan, visited the shrine in person in December 2013. The move outraged Beijing and Seoul, where bitter memories of Japan’s past military aggression run deep.
But in a bid to improve ties, Abe is now hoping to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and perhaps South Korean President Park Geun-hye in November on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders summit in Beijing to repair ties frayed partly by feuds over the legacy of Japan’s military aggression in the 1930s and 1940s.
Other Japanese lawmakers, possibly including one or more cabinet ministers, are expected to pay a visit to the shrine on Friday, the start of its autumn festival.
Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Chris Reese and Gunna Dickson