TOKYO (Reuters) - Top Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine - a controversial shrine for war dead - in a private capacity and that the government was not in a position to comment on his action.
Abe on Saturday sent a "masakaki" ceremonial tree to mark the annual autumn festival at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism by many in Asia, Japanese media said. By not visiting the shrine in person Abe appears to be hoping to avoid derailing the thaw in Japan's ties with its neighbors, while also giving a nod to his conservative base.
China's state news agency Xinhua said "the move is still deemed provocative" because the shrine is a source of friction between the two countries.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)