Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's offering to the Yasukuni shrine has sparked outrage in China and South Korea. Kishida, who became the country's prime minister just weeks ago, sent a "masakaki" tree offering to the shrine, which honors the 2.5 million people that died during the last world war.
Kishida's offering was sent to the shrine as it celebrated its biannual festival. The shrine honors all of those that died in World War II, including senior military and political officials that were convicted of war crimes by an international tribunal. This has caused some controversy amongst victims of Japan's war campaign in Asia, including those in China and South Korea.
Some of Japan's neighboring countries consider the shrine as a symbol of its past militarism. Due to the controversy surrounding the shrine, past prime ministers have avoided making offerings or personally attending its festivals. When Shinzo Abe attended one of the shrine's events in 2013, he was immediately slammed by leaders from China and South Korea, while also received a rare diplomatic rebuke from the U.S.
A report from the Associated Press claimed that former prime minister Yoshihide Suga had visited the shrine on Sunday. Suga had avoided visiting the shrine when he was prime minister and even when he was still Abe's government spokesperson. Sources familiar with the matter said Kishida has no plans of visiting the two-day autumn festival, which runs through Monday.
Politicians visiting the shrine have long angered other countries that had suffered under Japanese rule, particularly South Korea and China. On late Sunday, South Korea's foreign ministry said that it was deeply disappointed at Kishida's decision to send an offering to the Yasukuni shrine. The ministry said the government also regrets how Japanese leaders continue to visit the monument.
"The government expresses and regrets that Japanese leaders again sent the offering or repeated their visits to the Yasukuni shrine," the ministry said.
Earlier in the year, three Japanese government ministers visited the shrine during the anniversary of the country's surrender. The Yasukuni shrine, located in central Tokyo, has a list of the names, birthdates, and places of death of nearly 2.5 million people who died during the war - including the names of 1,068 convicted war criminals.