Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Wednesday.
A wooden plaque (rear) showing the name of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen with a "masakaki" tree that Abe sent as a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on October 17, 2018. Photo: AFP
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 notorious shrine in person.
He is on an overseas trip to Europe and will attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Belgium.
The Shinto 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 infamous shrine by Japanese leaders and officials have consistently sparked strong criticism and hurts the feelings of China and South Korea and other countries brutalized by Japan during World War II.
Abe has sent a ritual offering to Yasukuni shrine during the shrine's spring and autumn festivals every year since he launched his current administration in 2012.
The Japanese prime minister last visited the controversial 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.