South Korea's foreign minister has cancelled a trip to Japan after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an offering to a shrine seen as a symbol of Japan's former militarism, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.
Abe, an outspoken nationalist, on Sunday made a ritual offering of a pine tree to the Yasukuni shrine where 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honoured, along with other war dead.
He did not visit it but two Japanese ministers and deputy chief cabinet secretary did visit the shrine on the weekend.
Such gestures and visits to the shrine upset Asian victims of Japan's war-time aggression, including China and South Korea.
A South Korean official told the Yonhap news agency that Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se had aimed to set out the direction of bilateral relations with Japan during his planned visit.
"Amid this kind of atmosphere, our stance is that it will be difficult to hold a productive discussion and Yun decided not to visit to Japan this time," said the official, who declined to be identified.
A Foreign Ministry official confirmed that Yun had cancelled the trip but declined to say why.