There is considerable speculation about whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to visit Yasukuni Shrine in mid-August. This is an especially sensitive time of the year as it coincides both with the annual Bon festival, when people honor their ancestors, and the anniversary of Japan's surrender in 1945 on the 15th of the month.

Abe has expressed regrets about not vising the Shinto shrine in central Tokyo which honors the nation's war dead, including convicted Class-A war criminals, during his first stint as premier in 2006-07.

Back then, he was busy trying to mend fences with neighbors outraged by the repeated visits to Yasukuni by his predecessor, Prime Minsiter Junichiro Koizumi — a leader who demonstrated that sacrificing Japan's national interests at the altar of that shrine is a dead end.