TOKYO, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo on Saturday visited the controversial war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, local media reported.
The worship by Shindo to the shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 leading war criminals of the World War II and is considered as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, would trigger more anger from Japan's neighboring countries, especially from China and South Korea.
"I did it as a private matter which I am free to decide," Shindo explained to Japan's Kyodo News after the contentious visit.
While as internal minister, he paid visits to the war-linked shrine several times since last year, respectively in April, on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, in October and on New Year's Day.
Repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Japan's ministers and lawmakers have become a major obstacle for Japan to mend already strained ties with China and South Korea.
China has urged the Japanese leader to own up to the country's wrongdoings, correct it's mistakes and take concrete measures to atone for the damage done.