China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying Thursday urged Japan to properly deal with issues surrounding the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an offering at the controversial site.
Hua's remarks came as the shrine marked its annual autumn festival, which runs from Thursday until Sunday. Abe paid for a "masakaki" tree offering, traditionally used in Shinto rituals, at the shrine on Thursday morning but did not visit.
The shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals, is considered a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
Abe made the offering in the capacity of prime minister, a shrine official told Reuters.
Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters Abe made the offering in a private capacity and that the government was in no position to comment, reported Reuters.
Abe also made offerings during the shrine's spring festival in April and on the anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender on August 15 this year.
Hua said China has repeatedly stated its attitude and position on the Yasukuni Shrine issue.
"We again urge the Japanese side to face up to and make real introspection of its history of aggression, respect the feelings of people in war-victim Asian countries, including China, and properly deal with relevant issues," she said.
Repeated visits to the shrine by Japanese cabinet ministers and lawmakers have been a major obstacle for Japan in mending ties with China and South Korea.
"Our government cannot help but express deep concerns and regret over Prime Minister Abe's offering to the Yasukuni Shrine that glorifies its past wars of aggression and honors war criminals," South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told a briefing, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"I once again call on Japanese politicians to try to build up trust from the international community on the basis of humble reflection on its history," Cho added.
Two ministers from Abe's cabinet are considering visiting the shrine during the autumn festival, Kyodo News reported.