Ancient Japanese PM Abe hits controversial Tokyo shrine

TOKYO — Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he’s seen a shrine seen by China and both Koreas as a sign of wartime aggression.

Abe’s trip Saturday to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which he declared in a tweet, comes days after his resignation. It had been his first trip in almost seven decades.

Abe stated on Twitter he visited the shrine” and reported into the spirits of the war dead” that he had resigned as prime minister. Abe’s final trip to the shrine was in late 2013.

The shrine is contentious with sufferers of Japanese military aggression from the first portion of the 20th century, and notably the Koreas and China since it honors convicted war criminals among the countless other Japanese who perished in World War II.

Later Saturday, the South Korean government expressed”deep concern and sorrow” over Abe’s shrine visit.

Ties between Seoul and Tokyo suffered a massive setback in the last couple of years over history and commerce disputes. Before this week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a letter to brand new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to congratulate him covey his readiness to open discussions to enhance ties.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, resigned due to health problems. Suga began his first full day in office on Thursday.

Suga won the backing of fellow ruling party lawmakers having a pledge to continue Abe’s policies.

Abe, believed a foreign policy hawk, had occasionally angered relations with China and South Korea, in part due to his revisionist stance on Japan’s wartime offenses.