BEIJING, Oct. 18 -- Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday responded to Japanese cabinet members' visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine during its autumn festival by urging Japan to reflect on its history of aggression.
About 160 Japanese lawmakers from a nonpartisan group on Friday morning worshipped at the shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including 14 class-A war criminals.
Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato also paid homage to the controversial shrine earlier in the day, according to local media.
Hua said Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin has summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Masato Kitera to lodge solemn representations.
Liu also voiced strong protest and stern condemnation to the Japanese side, according to Hua.
The spokeswoman described the shrine as a spiritual vehicle and symbol of Japan's wartime militarism that enshrines war criminals who committed horrible atrocities against the people of victimized Asian countries.
The Yasukuni Shrine issue is about whether Japan can correctly understand and deal with its history of invasion and colonization and whether it can respect the feelings of people in China and other victimized countries in Asia, she said.
It is also a matter of principle concerning the political foundation of China-Japan relations, Hua added.
The spokeswoman said China is firmly opposed to Japanese cabinet members visiting the shrine, which is essentially an attempt to whitewash Japan's invasion history and to challenge the results of World War II and the post-war international order.
She reiterated that only by facing up to history and taking it as a mirror will Japan be able to face the future with its Asian neighbors.
She again urged the Japanese side to honor its statement and commitment on reflecting on its history of invasion and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.