Japanese PM Abe sends ritual offering to Yasukuni shrine for war dead

Visitors bow while paying tribute to the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan August 15, 2017, on the 72nd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead, seen in China and the two Koreas as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, to mark its annual autumn festival, the shrine said on Tuesday.

Abe was expected to refrain from visiting the shrine during the festival, which will last until Friday, the Nikkei business daily and Kyodo news agency reported.

Past visits to Yasukuni by Japanese leaders have outraged Beijing and Seoul because it honors 14 Japanese leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals, along with Japan's war dead.

Abe has only visited the shrine in person once, in December 2013, since becoming premier the previous year.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Paul Tait)