Japan's Administrative Reform Minister Tomomi Inada paid a visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday afternoon, shortly after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech at a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of Japan' s surrender in World War II.
About 6,000 people took part in the government-sponsored memorial ceremony in Tokyo to mourn the souls of about 3.1 million war dead.
During the speech, Abe did not mention Japan's wartime aggression in Asia, something Japanese premiers have done at the annual commemoration since 1994. Unlike the past years' speeches at the commemoration, Abe also did not "pledge not to fight a war. "
He said present-day peace and prosperity are built on the sacrifice of the war dead. The hawkish leader promised to face the past humbly, keep lessons from the war in mind and strive to build a future full of hope.
Emperor Akihito also made a speech at the ceremony. He expressed hopes that the horrors of war will never be repeated. He mourned for those who died during the war, prayed for world peace and Japan's continued prosperity.
Earlier in the day, Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and Keiji Furuya, chairman of national public safety commission and state minister in charge of abduction issue, also visited the controversial shrine.
They came to the shrine successively during 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. and left about 15-minute later.
Shinjirou Koizumi, son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, also visited the shrine in the morning.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was represented by his aide Koichi Hagiuda, made an offering to the shrine as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
China has voiced strong protest and condemnation regarding the visits. China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Masato Kitera and lodged solemn representation over the issue, according to a spokesman from the ministry.