Shrine security officials walk in the precincts of the Yasukuni shrine during the visit of a group of Japanese lawmakers in Tokyo, Japan April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter(reuters_tickers)
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not visit a controversial shrine for war dead in Tokyo on the anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War Two defeat, Jiji news agency has reported.
However, Abe plans to send a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine to mark the anniversary on Monday, Jiji reported on Thursday. The shrine honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals and is seen in China and South Korea as a symbol of Tokyo's wartime militarism.
Abe has not visited the shrine in person since December 2013, which he said he did to show respect for those who died for their country.
Japan's new defence minister, Tomomi Inada, has declined to say whether she would visit the shrine because it was a matter of conscience.
Inada, a close ally of Abe and a supporter of revamping Japan's pacifist constitution, had made regular visits to Yasukuni in the past.
Masahiro Imamura, the minister for reconstruction of disaster-stricken areas, visited the shrine on Thursday and said he prayed for Japan's peace and prosperity, Kyodo news agency reported.
Ties between China and Japan, Asia's two largest economies, have been strained of late after a growing number of Chinese coastguard and other government ships sailed near disputed islets in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Paul Tait)