TOKYO • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni shrine for war dead yesterday, the anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender, but refrained from visiting in person amid tense ties with South Korea.
Ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Tomomi Inada, a former defence minister and now special aide to Mr Abe, made a monetary offering on the Premier's behalf, domestic media said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment, saying it was a private matter.
Mr Abe, speaking at a ceremony honouring the country's war dead, said Japan had engraved the "lessons of history deep in our hearts", and pledged never to repeat the devastation of war.
"To create a peaceful new era full of hope, we will spare no effort in working with the international community," he said.
New Emperor Naruhito, speaking at the same ceremony, expressed "deep remorse" over the country's wartime past and prayed for global peace in remarks that echoed those of his father Akihito.
"Looking back on the long period of post-war peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated," Emperor Naruhito said.
The 59-year-old Emperor became Japan's first monarch born after the war when he inherited the throne in May following his father's abdication.
Past visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni have outraged South Korea and China because the shrine honours 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals.
Prime Minister Abe has visited the shrine in person only once since taking office in 2012 but has regularly sent offerings on Aug 15 and during the shrine's spring and autumn festivals.
Bitter memories of Japan's 1910-1945 colonisation of Korea have long plagued the country's ties with South Korea.