People visit the Yasukuni shrine on the 73rd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II in Tokyo on Aug 15, 2018. (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)
TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Wednesday.
The "masakaki" tree offering by Abe comes on the first day of the shrine's four-day autumn festival and was made in the name of the prime minister.
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The "masakaki" tree offering by Abe comes on the first day of the shrine's four-day autumn festival and was made in the name of the prime minister
The Japanese leader, however, did not visit the controversial shrine in person.
He is on an overseas trip to Europe and will attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Belgium.
The shrine, seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, has long-been a source of diplomatic friction between Japan and its neighbors, as it honors convicted war criminals together with the war dead.
Yasukuni Shrine honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from World War II.
Visits and ritual offerings made in person or by proxy to the shrine by Japanese leaders and officials have sparked criticism and hurts the feelings of China and South Korea and other countries brutalized by Japan during World War II.
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Abe has sent a ritual offering to Yasukuni shrine during the shrine's spring and autumn festivals every year since the beginning of his current administration in 2012.
The Japanese prime minister last visited the shrine in person in December 2013, at which time he was strongly condemned by China and South Korea, as well as the United States, who said at the time it was disappointed with Abe's decision.
HONG KONG NEWS