Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent a religious offering to a controversial war shrine, triggering concern in South Korea and China.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Abe said Tuesday that Mr. Abe sent a potted tree labeled with the words "prime minister" to Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine last month. She said Mr. Abe did not appear at the shrine in person.
The Yasukuni shrine honors Japan's two and a half million war dead, including 14 convicted war criminals.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry says it regrets Mr. Abe's gesture because it believes the shrine glorifies Japan's past invasions of its neighbors. Seoul also says the shrine runs counter to what it calls an accurate view of history that promotes regional peace.
China and the Koreas condemned visits to Yasukuni by Mr. Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. Mr. Abe has not said whether he will visit the shrine as prime minister.
Japanese media say Mr. Abe's offering to the shrine is the first by a Japanese prime minister since Yasuhiro Nakasone, who held office from 1982 to 1987.
Japanese newspapers say Mr. Abe sent the potted tree to mark the Yasukuni shrine's annual spring festival, which is held in late April. They say he spent about $420 of his own money on the plant, which is commonly used in Shinto shrines.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.