TOKYO, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe on Wednesday evening visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 leading WWII war criminals, Kyodo news reported.
Abe was the Prime Minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007. He avoided visiting the shrine as a prime minister, but has visited the shrine since stepping down.
"I paid a visit (this time) as president of the Liberal Democratic Party to show respect to the spirits of the war dead who gave their lives for the country," Kyodo news quoted Abe as saying, after his visit.
"In view of current Japan-China, Japan-South Korea relations, it's better not to say whether I will visit the shirne if I become the prime minister," he added.
The shrine is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism by its Asian neighbors including China and South Korea.