Abe sends offering to war shrine

First direct show of respect since becoming premier but he does not visit Yasukuni.

    The potted masakaki tree offering, considered divine in Shinto, was to mark the spring festival [Reuters]
    The Tokyo shrine honours Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including some executed and declared war criminals by an Allied tribunal.
    Visits to the shrine by Junichiro Koizumi, Abe's predecessor, was a source of diplomatic tension with China and South Korea.
    Taro Aso, Japan's foreign minister, said he did not expect any diplomatic fallout as a result of Abe's gesture.
    "I don't think it really matters," he said.
    China's foreign ministry had no immediate comment.
    Mending ties
    Abe has worked hard to mend relations with China that were ruptured by Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni, a visit he has avoided making since taking office.

    Abe, right, hosted Wen Jiabao in Tokyo last
    month in a sign of warming relations [Reuters]

    Beijing has repeatedly pressed him not to visit it as a demonstration of Japan's remorse for its militaristic past.
    Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a government spokesman, acknowledged the media reports but said he had not heard directly from Abe about the visit.
    "The government will refrain from commenting on a matter that involves the thoughts and feelings of the prime minister as a private citizen," he added.
    Abe has regularly prayed there in the past and reportedly made a secret trip as chief cabinet secretary just before the shrine's main spring festival last year.
    Abe, who has kept mum on whether he will visit as prime minister, has reportedly said he will stay away from the shrine until at least July in a bid to improve ties with China.
    Last month, Abe hosted a visit to Japan by Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, signalling a warming in relations.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.