The Yasukuni shrine was founded by Emperor Meiji in 1869. It lists about two and half million civilians and government officials who died in wars between 1867 and 1951, as well as about 1,000 war criminals, 14 of which are considered to be A-Class, or those internationally acknowledged to have participated in a joint conspiracy to start and wage war.
Previous visits to the controversial shrine by Japanese officials have sparked protests from China and South Korea in connection with the memories of Japanese occupation and colonialism before and during World War II.
So far, Abe has visited the shrine only once in 2013, stressing it was an anti-war gesture. The move, which was televised and attracted domestic and international attention, was the first visit of a prime minister since 2006.
Since then, Abe has sent only ritual offerings to the shrine, while first lady Akie Abe reportedly visited the religious site.