Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a symbolic offering Tuesday to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo to mark the 72th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, according to Japanese media reports.
But he is likely to refrain from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine apparently in consideration of diplomatic relations with neighboring countries, especially South Korea and China, Kyodo News reported.
Masahiko Shibayama, a lawmaker from Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, delivered the "tamagushi" tree offering on Abe's behalf.
The shrine is viewed by Seoul and Beijing as reflecting Tokyo's militaristic past. It honors around 2.4 million war dead of Japan, including 14 Class-A war criminals.
The conservative prime minister paid his respects at the shrine in December 2013. He has since refrained from visiting the site personally, instead sending offerings during the spring and fall festivals.
The Japanese news agency said Abe "seeks to hold a trilateral summit" with South Korea and China later this year in Tokyo. If held, it would be the first such meeting since November 2015.
Masahisa Sato, senior vice foreign minister, along with two groups of lawmakers also paid a visit to the shrine, Kyodo News reported.
South Korea expressed "deep concern" over the Yasukuni shrine visit by the Japanese politicians.
"We cannot but express our deep concern over the fact that Japan's government representative and responsible leaders of the National Diet have again sent offerings and visited the Yasukuni shrine, which praises Japan's colonial plunder and history of invasive war," Cho June-hyuck, foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement. (Yonhap)