U.S. Markets closed

Japan PM Abe sends ritual offering to Yasukuni shrine for war dead: media

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives an address at the start of the new parliament session at the lower house of parliament in Tokyo, Japan, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine for war dead on Monday to mark the annual autumn festival of the shrine, Kyodo News said. The shrine is seen in China and the two Koreas as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Past visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni have outraged Beijing and Seoul because it honors 14 Japanese leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals, along with war dead.

Abe has only visited the shrine in person once, in December 2013, since becoming premier the previous year. Keen to improve ties with China and South Korea, strained by territorial disputes, Abe has instead opted to send ritual offerings on several occasions.

Attention is focused on whether Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, who has been accused by China of recklessly misrepresenting wartime history, will visit or make an offering at the shrine.

On the previous occasion for high-profile Yasukuni visits, the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender, the newly appointed Inada was visiting troops in Djibouti and unable to go to the shrine.

(Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by William Mallard and Michael Perry)