Japan lawmakers in mass visit to war shrine

Nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers visited a Tokyo war shrine Tuesday, an MP said, in one of the biggest-ever trips by legislators to a site seen as a potent symbol of Japan's imperialist past.

The annual trip, which usually draws dozens of lawmakers to the Yasukuni shrine, has riled neighbours China and South Korea, which lodged protests after several Japanese cabinet members visited at the weekend.

A total of 168 parliamentarians visited the site in central Tokyo on Tuesday morning according to upper house member of parliament Toshiei Mizuochi.

The shrine honours 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leading war criminals enshrined there, but is seen by Japan's Asian neighbours as a symbol of its wartime aggression.

The visits came a day after South Korea shelved a proposed trip by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se to Tokyo in protest at visits by Japanese cabinet ministers to the shrine.