Japanese Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa visited a war shrine at the center of tension with China and South Korea, the eve of the 60th anniversary of Tokyo's defeat in World War II.
Nakagawa, wearing a dark black suit, arrived at the Yasukuni Shrine in a chauffeured car.
The lawmaker, known for hawkish remarks, had earlier hinted he may go to the controversial shrine on the 60th anniversary, saying he regarded it as a way to "wish for peace and pledge never to wage war."
At least two cabinet ministers have said they will visit Yasukuni on Monday. But a close aide to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Sunday he would not visit the shrine on the anniversary.
"With tacit understanding as a long-time friend ... I think the prime minister will not go on August 15," ruling-party lawmaker Taku Yamasaki told the private Asahi network.
But when asked if Koizumi will drop his annual visit to Yasukuni this year, Yamasaki said he was "a bit doubtful."
Koizumi has made four controversial pilgrimages to the shrine in central Tokyo while in office but he has avoided sensitive dates such as August 15, the day Emperor Hirohito surrendered in 1945.
The Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 WWII Class-A convicted war criminals.
Koizumi hinted Friday he would stay away from the shrine, saying his opinion that he would not go to Yasukuni on or around August 15 so as not to upset people at home or abroad "hasn't changed."
(Chinadaily.com.cn via agencies, August 15, 2005)