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Japan’s ex-PM Abe visits controversial Tokyo shrine

Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe says he has visited a shrine viewed by China and both Koreas as a symbol of wartime aggression. Abe's visit Saturday, which he announced in a tweet, comes days after his resignation. It is his first visit in nearly seven years.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe says he has visited a shrine viewed by China and both Koreas as a symbol of wartime aggression. Abe's visit Saturday, which he announced in a tweet, comes days after his resignation. It is his first visit in nearly seven years.Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday he visited a shrine viewed by China and both Koreas as a symbol of wartime aggression.

Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which he announced in a tweet, comes days after his resignation. It is his first visit in nearly seven years.

Abe said on Twitter that he visited the shrine "and reported to the souls of the war dead” that he'd resigned as prime minister.

The shrine is controversial with Japan's neighbors because it honors convicted war criminals among the millions of other Japanese who died in World War II.

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The visit will likely be harshly criticized in North and South Korea and in China, countries that were victims of Japanese military aggression in the early part of the 20th century.

Abe's last visit to the shrine was in late 2013.

Abe, Japan's longest serving prime minister, resigned because of health issues. New Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga started his first full day in office Thursday.

Suga won the backing of fellow ruling party lawmakers with a pledge to carry on Abe’s policies.

Abe, considered a foreign policy hawk, has had sometimes fraught relations with China and South Korea, in part because of his revisionist stance on Japanese wartime crimes.