Two Japanese ministers on Monday visited a controversial war shrine seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan’s militaristic past, as they commemorate the end of World War II.

Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine honors the 2.5 million people, mostly Japanese, killed in conflicts since the late 19th century, but also celebrates senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes by an international court after World War II. World War.

Sanae Takaichi, the minister of economic security, and Kenya Akiba, the reconstruction minister of the disaster-hit northern Tohoku region, paid their respects at the shrine.

Visits by government officials to the site have in the past angered countries that suffered at the hands of the Japanese military before and during the war, especially South Korea and China.

Takaichi is a frequent visitor to Yasukuni.

“This year there is war in Ukraine. I pray that no more people die in wars,” Takaichi told reporters, noting that she expressed “gratitude” to the war dead honored at the site.

Commerce Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura visited the shrine over the weekend.

But Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October, opted instead to offer a monetary offering on Monday.

No Japanese prime minister has visited the shrine since 2013, when then-ruler Shinzo Abe angered Beijing and Seoul by visiting the site.

Also on Monday, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako participated in a national ceremony to mark the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.

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