The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed opposition Tuesday to possible visits by members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet to Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.
"China will never accept it," the ministry said in a statement, arguing that visits to the Shinto shrine by political leaders would mean Japan is denying its militaristic past and the invasion of parts of Asia.
Tomomi Inada, state minister in charge of administrative reform, is considering visiting the Tokyo shrine where high-ranking officials convicted of war crimes by an Allied tribunal are honored along with millions of war dead, sources close to her said earlier this month.
China and South Korea in particular regard the shrine as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
Abe said again Tuesday that he will not restrict his Cabinet members from visiting the shrine.
As for himself, Abe has decided not to visit the shrine on the anniversary day out of consideration for already frayed relations with China and South Korea, according to government and ruling party sources.
In addition to facing up to its past, the Chinese statement urged Japan to "speak and act cautiously, and take concrete actions to win the trust of its neighboring countries in Asia and the international community."