The Yasukuni Shrine honors war criminals, including wartime leader Hideki Tojo, among the 2.5 million war dead. Many Asian victims of Japan’s wartime atrocities, especially China and the Koreas, see the shrine as a symbol of militarism.
Abe last visited Yasukuni in December, triggering anger from China and South Korea.
On Friday, Abe sent a set of Shinto-style “masakaki” ornaments on the occasion marking the shrine’s Oct. 17-20 autumn festival, one of three major events when Japan’s conservatives typically pray there.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Abe made the gesture as a private citizen based on his personal belief.
A group of 110 lawmakers and 80 aides prayed at the shrine for the war dead. None of the Cabinet members has showed up so far Friday, though Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi told reporters Thursday that she would go. Yauhisa Shiozaki, minister of health, labor and welfare, offered religious ornaments similar to Abe’s.