BEIJING, April 22 -- A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Japanese lawmakers' mass visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine earlier in the day fuelled controversy over the shrine after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent offering there.
About 150 Japanese lawmakers from a nonpartisan group and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindoon visited the Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday morning.
"The Yasukuni Shrine is a negative asset for Japan. If its leader is bent on holding this negative asset, it will become increasingly heavy," spokesman Qin Gang said at a daily news briefing.
"Unfortunately, the negative asset has become heavier overnight," Qin added.
Since Abe's administration took office in December 2012, the prime minister has not held his cabinet members back from visiting the shrine and he himself also visited it on the first anniversary of the launch of his government on Dec. 26, 2013.
The frequent visits to the site by the Japanese leader, cabinet ministers and lawmakers have become a major obstacle in mending the relations between Japan and its neighboring countries which suffered at the hands of Japan during the World War II.