Japan PM visits Meiji shrine in apparent rightist appeal

TOKYO (AP) - Japan's prime minister has visited Tokyo's main Shinto shrine, which has strong imperial connections, in an apparent attempt to appeal to his right-wing supporters.

Shinzo Abe, who recently started his second stint as Japan's leader, visited the Meiji shrine on Sunday, becoming the first premier to do so since his 2007 visit. The shrine commemorates Emperor Meiji, a symbol of Japan's militarization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Abe has said he hopes to visit the Yasukuni war shrine, which honors war criminals among others. His visit to the Meiji shrine could be a move to avoid angering China, which has expressed concerns about Abe's rightist policies.

Japan's World War II government used Shinto as an official religion to push militarism and waged war in the emperor's name.