October 20, 2015 / 6:03 AM / 2 years ago

Third Japanese minister visits controversial shrine for war dead

Japan's new Minister in Charge of Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens and Minister-in-Charge of the Abduction Issue Katsunobu Kato attends a news conference at Prime Minister Abe's official residence in Tokyo October 7, 2015.Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese cabinet minister visited a controversial shrine for war dead on Tuesday, the third to do so during the autumn festival, a day after China chastised Abe for sending an offering to what many see as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Katsunobu Kato, tasked with boosting the birth rate and coping with Japan's ageing population, visited the Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are enshrined along with the war dead, domestic media reported. Dozens of lawmakers also made pilgrimages to the shrine on Tuesday.

Kato was promoted to his post to showcase Abe's newly minted slogan, "Society in Which All 100 Million People Can be Active".

The slogan is meant to reflect a commitment to spreading the benefits of economic growth to everyone. Some critics, though, have noted the phrase echoes wartime slogans intended to mobilise the population behind the war effort.

The visits to the shrine and Abe's offering of a ceremonial tree came as China and South Korea, where memories of Japanese occupation and colonialism before and during World War Two run deep, are arranging a trilateral summit with Japan, the first leaders' meeting since May 2012.

Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Nick Macfie

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