Japan's PM Abe sends ritual offering to Yasukuni shrine

Japanese PM Says He's Agreed With Trump to Help Prevent N Korean Missile Attack

Also Tuesday, the Japanese government said Japan's foreign and defense ministers will leave for Washington the next day to attend a security meeting with their counterparts Thursday.

On Tuesday Abe said, "We will contribute to world peace and prosperity by sincerely tackling various challenges, including the issue of poverty, which could become a hotbed of conflicts".

In September 2015, Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition Komeito forced through a controversial bill that allows the Japanese military to fight wars overseas.

"We intend to keep this immovable policy firmly, throughout the ages, while facing history with humility". He reportedly told Masahiko Shibayama, a special adviser sent to the shrine on his behalf, that he regretted not being able to go himself.

A Shinto priest (R) leads a group of lawmakers at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, on October 18, 2016.

Former Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi was among a group of 55 LDP lawmakers.

He said he affirmed with Trump the importance of Japan and the United States working in close coordination with each other and with South Korea, as well as in cooperation with China, Russia and the rest of the worldwide community.

Normally, reporters and other media representatives stake out the site to see which ministers visit the main shrine by 5 p.m. when the gates close.

A crowd at the Yasukuni Shrine.

TOKYO-Amid a welter of conflicting views over North Korea, there is one reliable standby. As recent as last week, Pyongyang threatened to test-fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, following U.S. President Donald Trump's promise of "fire and fury".

The ceremony comes amid growing threats posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs and as Abe looks to revise the nation's war-renouncing Constitution. The Japanese leader has not been back since, staying away from the shrine on the World War II anniversary for five straight years. But receives significant criticism for also enshrining senior military and political figures who have been convicted of war crimes by an global tribunal.

Some conservative officials say the pilgrimages to the shrine are a chance to console the spirits of the dead and pray for peace.

He called on the Japanese government to attach more importance to its relationship with its Asian neighbors such as China and South Korea, stressing that it has been the long-held wish of the Japanese people.

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