Japan PM Abe sends offering to war shrine, but does not visit

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo on March 15, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS  
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo on March 15, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS  

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead on Thursday, but did not visit in person in a effort to avoid inflaming tensions with Asian neighbours.

Mr Koichi Hagiuda, an executive of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters that Mr Abe had sent the offering in his capacity as ruling party leader to pay his respects to the war dead and wanted to apologise for not going in person.

Visits by Japanese leaders to the shrine in central Tokyo have outraged China and South Korea, which suffered under Japanese occupation and colonisation in the 20th century, because wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honoured there along with the nation's war dead.