Japan's Prime Minister Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine on December 26 to the resulting loud condemnation of the world's governments and entities.
It was exactly when the prospect of a breakthrough in the construction (or prep thereof) a new US military base in Okinawa was greater than ever (and sure enough on the next day the governor of Okinawa gave his approval of the project, to the loud condemnation from Okinawans who felt betrayed by the governor).
I thought these two events were related, and were presented as a "package", so to speak, to the US government. It is as if to say:
"I visited the shrine. So? I also won the approval from the Okinawa governor of a long-standing issue of a new base in Okinawa. Add two together. Is it net positive or negative for the US interest?"
Abe was confident, clearly, that the it was net positive for the US, and went to the shrine.
The Wall Street Journal's article (12/28/2013) seems to agree with me, though all I can read, as a non-subscriber, is the headline and the first paragraph (emphasis is mine):
Abe's Style Presents U.S. With Dilemma
Japanese Prime Minister Timed Shrine Visit Around Progress on Okinawa Base, Aides Say
TOKYO—In just a matter of days, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has drawn both praise and censure from the U.S., underlining how his assertive style presents a dilemma for Washington policy makers needing his help to counter China's influence in the region.