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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe avoided visiting the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Monday, the 71st anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, instead dispatching a proxy to deliver a ritual offering for the war dead and Class-A war criminals enshrined there.

Abe’s reluctance to visit likely reflects the government’s wish not to damage ties with China and South Korea, which view trips to the Tokyo shrine by top officials as a sign that Japan remains unrepentant for its wartime atrocities.

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