South Korea on Thursday blasted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, for its annual autumn festival.
"Our government can't help but express deep concerns and regrets over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sending an offering to Yasukuni Shrine which glorifies past war aggression and enshrines war criminals," South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young told a press briefing.
The remarks came after Abe sent an offering to the shrine in his capacity of prime minister earlier Thursday. The prime minister refrained, however, from visiting the site amid frayed ties with China and South Korea.
"We once again urge Japanese politicians to do a humble reflection on the past history to receive trust from neighboring countries and the international community," Cho said.
Abe paid 50,000 yen (about $500) for a "masakaki" tree offering traditionally used in Shinto rituals, according to sources close to the prime minister and the shrine.
The money was paid by Wednesday and the decoration placed at the altar Thursday, the first day of the four-day festival through Sunday.
China and South Korea, both victims of Japan's military aggression, have protested the visits as hurtful, given that the shrine is the symbol of Japan's past militarism and honors Class-A war criminals along with the war dead.