Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine is emerging as a potential flashpoint between Japan's moderate new prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, and more hawkish figures within his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. During his brief campaign to replace right-wing premier Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation on September 1, Mr Fukuda made considerable play of his vow not to visit the shrine to avoid causing friction with neighbouring countries which suffered under Japanese wartime aggression. At one point he also raised the prospect of a new, more neutral state memorial to Japan's war dead. But political analysts fear he may have a tough time with right-wingers as he seeks to push more moderate policies - including improved ties with China and North Korea. Political sources say that, already, some conservative party figures are grumbling that Mr Fukuda looks too weak in his approach to historical issues and the shrine, where 14 Class A war criminals executed at the end of the second world war are honoured among 2.4 million Japanese war dead. The situation is further complicated by the fact that he is unlikely to enjoy any political honeymoon given the pressures on his party after Mr Abe's scandal-plagued year in office. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan now controls the Upper House and is pushing for fresh elections as soon as possible. Political scientist Takeshi Sasaki warned that Mr Fukuda lacks the right-wing cover exploited by Mr Abe as he sought to boost ties with China. 'Fukuda has the motivation,' Mr Sasaki wrote in yesterday's Japan Times. 'But whether he will be able to act on his convictions is the issue.' Mr Fukuda's earlier plans for a new war memorial are already being watered down despite support from some of the LDP's coalition partners. A new state memorial is seen as one of few ways to draw a line under protests about the shrine. Yasukuni is a private temple run by Shinto priests not under government control. The war criminals' names were discreetly added to the roll of the dead in the late 1970s and, according to Shinto precepts, they represent the dead men's souls and may not be removed. The thinking goes that a new, non-religious memorial would allow leaders and families of ordinary war dead to pay their respects without any connection to the war criminals. But Mr Fukuda backed away from the idea of a neutral new shrine in his last debate with his sole rival, hawkish former foreign minister Taro Aso. 'In short, I won't do it,' he said on Friday when asked about the need for a new shrine. 'If I say I'll do it, Mr Aso would strongly oppose it. Is it good to build such a facility that some people may throw stones at?'