TOKYO, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Three ministers of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet visited the notorious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine Friday on the 69th anniversary of Japan's defeat in the World War II.
State Minister for Public Servant System Reform Tomomi Inada joined her associates of Yoshitaka Shindo, Japanese internal affairs minister, and Chairman of Japan's National Public Safety commission Keiji Furuya to pay her respect to the shrine in the afternoon.
Abe sent an offering to the shrine through his aide Kouichi Hagiuda who told reporters after his visit to the shrine that the prime minister sent the offering as the president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Local reports said Abe's avoiding to pay his respect this time aims to prepare for a meeting of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation to be held in Beijing later this year, during which Abe wants to hold talks with Chinese leaders.
Abe worshiped to the shrine last year in December on the first anniversary of his taking office and the Yasukuni visit triggered fierce criticisms worldwide, including Japan's key ally the United States which said the move was "disappointing."
Earlier on Friday, Shindo and Furuya visited the controversial shrine. Shindo's visit came minutes after Furuya's worship and the minister said his visit was a private behavior.
Meanwhile, Furuya said after his visit that it is reasonable for him, as a Japanese, to pay worship to the shrine that he called as a place not to whitewash Japan's wartime history.
"It's natural to pray for the souls of those who died for a country," Furuya was quoted as saying.
The state minister visited the shrine during its spring and autumn festivals since he became state minister of the Abe's Cabinet launched in 2012. He also paid his respect to the Yasukuni on Aug. 15 last year.
Shinjiro Koizumi, lower house lawmaker from the ruling LDP and son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, also paid a visit to the controversial shrine Friday.
Also on Friday, a herd of about 80 Japanese lawmakers from a bipartisan group aims to promote Yasukuni visits also paid their homage to the shrine. The number of those who visited here on the anniversary last year was 102.
During a ceremony to commemorate Japanese war dead the day, Abe delivered a speech and said "today is the day to renew our pledge for peace," adding that the country will make contributions to lasting world peace.
But the conservative leader, in his speech, skipped Japan's aggression during wartime in its Asian neighbors and again he did not pledge that Japan will not to fight a war.
The omitted part has done at the annual ceremony since 1994, the year that then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama released his statement expressing remorse over Japan's wartime invasion in neighboring countries.
Concerns have arose since hawkish Abe drastically changed Japan 's defense stance in July by reinterpreting the country's war- renouncing constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to exercise right to collective self-defense, making the SDF could engage fight overseas for countries have close ties with Japan.
The majority of Japanese public is worried about that the move, on one hand, violates Japan's legislative system, on the other hand, could drag Japan into war again. For neighboring countries, the move made Japan's military strategy more ambiguous.
Japan's relations with its neighboring countries, especially South Korea and China, have frayed not only for territorial disputes, but also due to the Yasukuni and "comfort women" issues, which are considered as a test stone to Japan's reflection on its wartime history.
Repeated worships to the shrine angers Japan's neighboring countries that suffered Japan's brutal aggression in wartime as 14 convicted Class-A Japanese war criminals during the WWII are enshrined here.
Both of the two Japan's neighbors urged many times that Japan and its officials should face up to its past history and act concretely to mend ties with its neighboring countries.
On Friday, South Korean Foreign Ministry condemned Abe for sending an offering to the shrine, demanding Japanese politicians to confess their country's wartime crimes.
The ministry's spokesman Noh Kwang-il said in a statement that the government "cannot help deploring" Japanese politicians' visit to the shrine as it is a symbol of Japan's colonial rule and reflects the country's attempt to whitewash its wartime aggression.
Meanwhile, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is "firmly opposed" to Abe's offering and cabinet officials' visit to the infamous shrine.