Japanese PM sends offering to controversial war shrine on WWII anniversary | News | DW | 15.08.2016
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Japanese PM sends offering to controversial war shrine on WWII anniversary

Japan's Shinzo Abe has sent an offering to a military shrine to mark the end of World War II. In an effort to avoid further tensions with neighbors China and South Korea, Abe did not personally visit the shrine.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sacred tree branch as an offering to the Yasukuni military shrine on Monday to mark the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II.

The offering was presented in Abe's name as president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), rather than as prime minister.

"This was out of respect to those who gave their lives for the country," said Yasutoshi Nishimura, an LDP aide.

Abe did not visit the shrine personally, perhaps in an effort to thwart controversy with neighboring countries China and South Korea. His last visit to the shrine in 2013 drew sharp remarks from both countries.

The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japan's military dead, including 14 Japanese leaders who were convicted as war criminals. Visits to the shrine often spark outrage with Japan's neighbors who view the shrine as a glorification of the nation's wartime aggression.

Strained relations

Abe repeated his pledge to not allow the tragedy of war to be repeated during a state memorial later on Monday. He did not, however, mention the actions taken by the Japanese during the war, nor did he apologize to victims.

Relations between Japan and China have already been strained over a territory dispute in the East China Sea. Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are arranging talks at the G-20 summit in China next month.

Several Japanese MPs have visited the shrine, including deputy chief cabinet secretary Koichi Hagiuda.

Japan's new Defense Minister Tomomi Inada could not visit the shrine as she normally does, due to a visit with troops in Djibouti. China has criticized Inada for declining to comment on whether or not Japanese military massacred thousands of civilians in China during WWII.

rs/se (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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