Japan's Abe to visit Manila, Davao next month

But Beijing heightened its criticism of the historical understanding on the part of Japanese leaders following visits by Koizumi and Abe as prime ministers to Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes 14 Class-A war criminals along with Japan's war dead.

Television footage showed Inada entering the shrine wearing a black jacket and a smile on her face, Reuters reported.

Earlier this week, Inada accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor, where he offered condolences to those who died in the Japanese attack there in 1941.

Imamura also visited the shrine on Aug 11, several days before the anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.

Seventy-five years after Japan's surprise attack, Abe and President Barack Obama peered down Tuesday at the rusting wreckage of the USS Arizona, clearly visible in the tranquil, teal water.

"We express deep concern and regret over Japan's defense minister visiting Yasukuni Shrine, even as our government has been emphasizing the need to create a new, forward-looking South Korea-Japan relationship", it said in a statement.

Noting that Japan waged a war of aggression against China and other Asian countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference, "Reconciliation between the inflicters and victims must and can only be based upon honest reflection and apology from the inflicters".

The visit marked the first time a Japanese leader and a United States president jointly commemorated victims at Pearl Harbor.

Kishida made a courtesy call to Duterte in Davao on August 11 and announced Japan's offer of a $2.4 billion loan package to build a new railway in the Philippines aimed at easing Manila's notorious gridlock.

Japan's Asian neighbors harbor bitter memories of the country's atrocities before and during World War II, when it colonized or invaded much of the region.

He has stayed away after that, but Japanese conservatives have called on him to visit the shrine again.

Japan's Defense Minister Tomomi Inada speaks at a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 3, 2016.

More than 1,000 USA war dead remain entombed in the submerged ship, which Japan struck as part of the devastating attack that killed more than 2,300 Americans and sent America marching into World War II. A lawyer turned lawmaker with little experience in defense, she is one of Abe's protegees and a backer of his long-cherished hope to revise Japan's constitution.

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