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(LEAD) Kishida sends offering to controversial Yasukuni Shrine: report

All News 13:53 October 17, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details, background info in paras 4-5, 7-8, additional photo)

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday sent his first ritual offering to a controversial war shrine since taking office earlier this month, a news report said.

Kishida sent a "masakaki" tree to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo to celebrate its two-day autumn festival that runs through Monday, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency.

It marked the first time Kishida has sent an offering to the shrine, seen as a symbol of the country's past militarism, since he took office earlier this month, though he stopped short of visiting in person.

The Japanese leader does not plan to visit the shrine during the two-day, the report said, citing his aides. But his immediate predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, visited the shrine earlier in the day, it added.

Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A criminals from World War II.

Visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders have long been a key source of tension in the region as Asian neighbors, like South Korea and China that suffered from Japanese aggression in the early part of the 20th century, view the visits as an attempt to beautify the country's militaristic past.

South Korea and Japan are close economic partners and key allies of the United States, though they have long been in conflict over territory and other historical disputes stemming from Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.

On Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kishida held their first phone call and agreed to accelerate the bilateral diplomatic consultations to resolve a long-drawn feud over wartime forced labor and to develop their ties "in a future-oriented manner."

This AFP photo shows Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holding a press conference in Tokyo on Oct. 14, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This Kyodo news photo shows a "masakaki" tree Japanese Prime Minister sent to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Oct. 17, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) ▲▲

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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