Tokyo: More than 100 Japanese lawmakers visited a Tokyo shrine condemned by China and Korea as a symbol of Japan's militarist past.
A cross-party group of parliamentarians said 110 members paid homage at the Yasukuni Shrine, yesterday, at the beginning of a four-day autumn festival.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who infuriated Beijing and Seoul by visiting the shrine in December last year, is thought unlikely to go even after he returns home Saturday from an Asia-Europe summit in Italy.
He instead sent a ritual donation to the shrine, media reports said.
The group has visited the shrine during its spring and autumn festivals as well as on the August 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.
The 145-year-old Shinto shrine honours some 2.5 million citizens who died in World War II and other conflicts.
But it is highly controversial because war criminals are among their number, including senior figures in the WWII administration, such as General Hideki Tojo, who authorised the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japan's neighbours view pilgrimages there by high-profile politicians as an insult and a painful reminder of Tokyo's aggression in the first half of the 20th century.