Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine dedicated to World War II heroes on Thursday, when the nation commemorates Japan's surrender, sources close to the politician told Kyodo.
If Abe were to visit the Shrine, the gesture might further worsen ties with China and South Korea as some of the men celebrated by the shrine were accused of war crimes against the citizens of the two countries.
Abe might instead make a ritual offering of a sacred tree branch to the Shinto shrine in Tokyo, paying out of his own pocket as the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party — not as prime minister — in a gesture that also seems to take into his consideration conservative supporters.
Yasukuni celebrates convicted Class-A war criminals along with the nation's war dead. Past visits by prime ministers and lawmakers to the shrine, seen as a symbol of Japanese past militarism, were targets of criticism most notably in China and South Korea, which both suffered from Japanese wartime brutality.
The Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It was created by Emperor Meiji to commemorate the individuals who died in service of the Empire of Japan during the Meiji Restoration. The shrine lists the names, origin, birthdates and place of death of 2,466,532 men, women and children and spans from the Boshin War of 1867 to World War II.