Japan has marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stayed away from a contentious Yasukuni shrine that honors war criminals among other war dead.

Abe instead prayed at a national cemetery for unnamed fallen soldiers on Saturday ahead of the annual ceremony at Tokyo's Budokan hall. However, two of his Cabinet ministers prayed at the shrine.

Abe donated Shinto-style religious ornaments for the shrine, as he has done in the past since his last visit in December 2013 that triggered uproar from China and South Korea.

Abe issued his closely monitored statement Friday ahead of the Aug. 15 anniversary, acknowledging damage and suffering on innocent people but falling short of apologizing in his own words to the victims of Japan's aggression.