Japanese minister visits controversial war shrine

A Japanese cabinet minister visited a controversial war shrine in Tokyo on Friday, likely causing anger in Beijing and Seoul.

Yoshitaka Shindo, minister for internal affairs and communications, paid homage at the Yasukuni shrine, which China and South Korea see as a symbol of Japan's militant past.

Shindo said he was at the shrine as a private citizen, playing down the potential for diplomatic fallout as a result of a visit from a member of the government.

"I offered prayers in my private capacity. I mourned people who lost their lives in wars and prayed for peace," he told reporters at the shrine.

"I don't think this will develop into a diplomatic issue at all," he said.

An autumn festival is being marked at the Yasukuni until Sunday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has donated a symbolic gift to the shrine in an apparent sign that he will avoid a visit.

Yasukuni is a flashpoint in relations between Japan and its Asian neighbours, with disagreements about history badly colouring relations.