TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese Cabinet minister has visited a Tokyo war shrine that honors the dead including executed war criminals in a move that could reignite tensions with Japan’s neighbors ahead of President Barack Obama’s Asia tour.

Internal Minister Yoshitaka Shindo prayed Saturday at the Yasukuni Shrine, which is seen as a symbol of militarism and is a flashpoint between Japan and neighbors China and South Korea. They see repeated Yasukuni visits by Japanese leaders as lack of remorse over wartime history. Obama will visit Japan in late April.

Shindo says he visited in his private capacity to pray for the soldiers who died in the battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most iconic battles of World War II.