Japan PM makes gift to controversial war shrine, skips visit
Published on Apr 21, 2014 8:49 AM
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donated a tree to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine on Monday, but did not visit the memorial which is seen by China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan's militarist past.
Abe donated the symbolic gift, a sacred "masakaki" tree, to coincide with the start of a three-day spring festival, Jiji Press news agency and other local media said.
The offering was seen as a sign that he would avoid a personal visit during the festival, reports said, with public broadcaster NHK quoting anonymous sources as saying he was not planning a trip.
Abe had been widely expected to refrain from visiting the shrine ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo from Wednesday to Friday, with Washington calling for Asian neighbours to mend ties.
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