Japanese PM sends offering to Yasukuni Shrine; S. Korea expresses regret

The new Japanese Prime Minister sent an offering to the Yasukuni shrine for the autumn festival, but did not attend in person.

But it's still seen as paying tribute to war criminals, and Seoul's Foreign Ministry expressed deep regrets over his actions.

Our Kim Do-yeon has the details.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sent an offering, specifically a "masakaki" tree, to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead to coincide with its autumn festival.

It's Suga's first such offering to the shrine since taking office last month... and he didn't visit or send offerings to the shrine while he was the Chief Cabinet Secretary under Shinzo Abe for nearly eight years.

Watchers note the Japanese PM technically worshipped the war dead by sending an offering without visiting in-person to avoid strong condemnation from Seoul and Beijing.

The Yasukuni shrine's controversy lies in the fact that...it honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals.

In response, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that "it expresses deep regret that Japan's government and parliamentary leaders have again offered a tribute to the Yasukuni Shrine."

It also called for more responsible actions from the new regime, saying...

"With the inauguration of the new cabinet, the Korean government strongly urges Japan's responsible leaders to face history and to respond to the demands for future-oriented development of Korea-Japan relations by showing their humble reflection and genuine regrets on the past through actions."

This move by Suga is also seen as following in the footsteps of former PM Shinzo Abe, who regularly sent offerings during his time in office.

The former Prime Minister even went a step further after his resignation by visiting the shrine last month, his first visit in seven years.