TOKYO, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not visit a controversial war shrine on the anniversary of the end of World War II to avoid tension with South Korea and China, a news report here said on Thursday.
Citing a government source, Kyodo News reported that Abe will not pay homage to Japan's war dead at the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II, and also Liberation Day in South Korea.
The shrine honors 14 convicted Class-A war criminals, among more than 2 million war dead. South Korea and China view the shrine as a symbol of Japan's militaristic past, and have denounced the visits of Japanese leaders to Yasukuni as attempts to glorify such a past.
Last month, Japanese media had reported that Abe would not likely visit Yasukuni this year so as not to upset Japan's neighbors.
Abe, who took office for the second time in December, didn't visit Yasukuni during his first term as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. He later expressed his regrets over not having visited the shrine.
Kyodo also reported that some members of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party are hoping he will visit Yasukuni in October when an annual festival is held at the shrine.
In May this year, Abe defended earlier leaders' visits to the shrine, telling Foreign Affairs magazine, "I think it's quite natural for a Japanese leader to offer prayer for those who sacrificed their lives for their country."
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