Japan's economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura visited Tokyo's war-linked Yasukuni shrine on Monday, about a week after the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

The visit came after Nishimura went to the shrine a few days before the anniversary day last year, having also attended its autumn festival that year since he joined the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in August 2022.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (R) speaks to reporters after visiting Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Aug. 21, 2023. (Kyodo) 

When asked by reporters why he did not visit the shrine on Aug. 15, Nishimura said, "I visited the shrine in a quiet environment," following the death of his father last month.

"I prayed for the souls of those who died in the war, thinking about their home country and family. I vowed that we will never start a war again," he told reporters.

Past visits by Japanese leaders and lawmakers to the Shinto shrine, which honors convicted war criminals along with the war dead, have riled Japan's Asian neighbors as they view it as a symbol of the country's past militarism.

This year, economic security minister Sanae Takaichi visited the shrine on Aug. 15. Kishida did not visit the shrine but sent a traditional "masakaki" offering, paying for it personally under the title of leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

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