April 22 - A Japanese cabinet minister as well as 150 politicians visit Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many as a symbol of the country's past militarism. Sarah Toms reports.
Almost 150 Japanese lawmakers visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, that commemorates the nation's war dead, including 14 war criminals from World War II. It's a move that's likely to further sour ties with regional neighbours. The visit, marking the spring festival, comes a day before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not among these politicians but he sent an offering on Monday. This cabinet minister says visiting the shrine is not controversial (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER, YOSHITAKA SHINDO, SAYING: "As this visit was my own personal visit, I don't believe that it will have any effect on the U.S. President's visit." But anything related to the Yasukuni Shrine will always heighten tensions. For China and South Korea, this shrine romanticizes Japan's wartime aggression. Ties between China and Japan are further strained by historical tensions and a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.