Two Japanese cabinet ministers have paid their respects at a war shrine seen by neighbouring countries as a symbol of Tokyo's past militarism, in the first such visit since 2016.

Local media said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual cash offering to the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo to mark the 75th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, but that he was not expected to visit in person.

Yasukuni honours 2.5 million war dead, mostly Japanese, who perished in the country's wars since the late 19th Century.

But it also enshrines senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes by an international tribunal after the war.

Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda, who visited the shrine along with Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, said he did so to pay tribute to the war dead.

He told reporters: "I paid respects... to the souls of those who nobly sacrificed themselves during the war."

Mr Abe last visited the shrine in December 2013 to mark his first year in power, sparking anger in China and South Korea and earning a rare diplomatic rebuke from Japan's close ally, the United States.