|Japanese lawmakers are led by a Shinto priest as they visit the war-linked controversial Yasukuni Shrine for worship, in Tokyo, on Oct. 18, 2013. Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and about 120 Japanese lawmakers on Friday worshipped the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine during its annual autumn festival, according to local media. (Xinhua/Ma Ping)|
TOKYO, Oct. 18 -- Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and about 120 Japanese lawmakers on Friday worshipped the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine during its annual autumn festival, according to local media.
The visits followed an offering on Thursday by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, amid current strained relations between Japan and its neighboring countries, namely China and South Korea.
Sanae Takaichi, policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was among the non-partisan group of lawmakers that visited the notorious shrine.
During its spring festival in April, a herd of 168 Japanese lawmakers from the group worshipped the Yasukuni, the highest number since 1989, triggering fierce opposition from Japan's neighboring countries.
About 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals during the World War II, are enshrined in Yasukuni, which is considered as a symbol of Japan's wartime militarism.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Thursday urged Japan to properly deal with the issues surrounding the controversial shrine and to face up to and make real introspection for its history of aggression after Abe's offering.
Meanwhile, South Korean officials also blasted Abe for yet another inconsiderate gesture made at the controversial shrine.
Repeated visits to the controversial shrine by Japanese cabinet ministers and lawmakers have been a major obstacle for Japan to mend ties with the two countries.