Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday sent a ritual offering to the notorious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on the occasion of the country’s annual autumn festival.

Although the move will likely draw staunch criticism from the neighbouring countries, Japanese cross-party lawmakers and some of Abe’s former Cabinet Ministers may visit the controversial shrine during the four-day festival, Xinhua reported.

Abe himself is reportedly to refrain from visiting the notorious shrine during the festival in person in an effort to prevent further damage to Japan’s relationship with China and South Korea at a time Japan and the region is facing heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Yasukuni Shrine honours 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from WWII and is regarded as a symbol of past Japanese militarism.

Visits and ritual offerings made by proxy to the infamous shrine by Japanese leaders and officials have consistently sparked strong criticism and hurt the feelings of China and South Korea and other countries brutalized by Japan during WWII.

The Japanese Premier last visited the controversial shrine in December 2013. He was then strongly condemned by China and South Korea as well as the US.