World

Japan PM sends offerings to shrine honoring war criminals, signaling he won't visit

  • FILE - In this March 10, 2015 file photo,  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Abe has sent religious offerings to a Tokyo shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead. But Abe's offerings on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 signal that he will not pray at the controversial Yasukuni shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

    FILE - In this March 10, 2015 file photo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Abe has sent religious offerings to a Tokyo shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead. But Abe's offerings on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 signal that he will not pray at the controversial Yasukuni shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Religious offering dedicated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen, center in the background, as people pray at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo during an annual spring festival on Tuesday, April 22, 2015. Abe sent religious offerings Tuesday to the shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead.  Abe's offerings likely signal that he will not pray at the controversial Yasukuni shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

    Religious offering dedicated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen, center in the background, as people pray at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo during an annual spring festival on Tuesday, April 22, 2015. Abe sent religious offerings Tuesday to the shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead. Abe's offerings likely signal that he will not pray at the controversial Yasukuni shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)  (The Associated Press)

  • Religious offering dedicated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen, center in the background, as people pray at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo during an annual spring festival Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Abe sent religious offerings Tuesday to the shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead.  Abe's offerings likely signal that he will not pray at the controversial shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

    Religious offering dedicated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen, center in the background, as people pray at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo during an annual spring festival Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Abe sent religious offerings Tuesday to the shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead. Abe's offerings likely signal that he will not pray at the controversial shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)  (The Associated Press)

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent religious offerings Tuesday to a Tokyo shrine that honors convicted World War II leaders among its war dead.

But Abe's offerings signal that he will not pray at the controversial Yasukuni shrine ahead of trips to Asia and the United States.

Previous shrine visits and offerings have drawn sharp rebukes from China and South Korea. As victims of Japan's wartime aggression, the two neighbors see the shrine as a symbol of Japan's militarism and visits by Japanese political leaders as a sign of Japan's lack of remorse over its atrocities.

The shrine said Abe sent "masakaki" offerings, with a name card showing his name and official title. Abe sent similar offerings marking both the spring and the fall festivals at the shrine.

The Yasukuni Shrine honors war criminals, including wartime leader Hideki Tojo, among the 2.5 million war dead.

Abe last visited Yasukuni in December 2013, which also drew criticism from Washington.

Abe heads to Indonesia later Tuesday for an Asia-African conference ahead of his U.S. visit next week.

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki also sent similar offerings to the shrine Tuesday, the first day of Yasukuni's spring festival, one of annual events when conservative politicians regularly visit.

Dozens of lawmakers are expected to pray at the shrine on Wednesday.