China again urged Japan on Thursday to respect the feelings of Chinese people after Japan's leader made his third ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine since he returned to office in December.
On Thursday morning, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese war dead are honoured, including 14 Class-A war criminals from World War II, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.
On Aug 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in the war, Abe provided a ritual offering to the shrine without paying a visit.
This time, Abe again did not visit in person to "avoid angering Asian victims of Japan's war-time aggression", Reuters said.
Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said Abe has repeatedly called for bilateral meetings with his Chinese counterpart to improve strained diplomatic ties, but Abe's comments are "empty phrases".
Isao Iijima, an adviser to Abe, said on Oct 7 that he would push for Abe to pay a pilgrimage to the shrine this month.
Japan's Asian neighbours see the shrine as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
According to local reports, Japanese Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission Keiji Furuya will visit the shrine, which they had visited during the summer festival on Aug 15.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday demanded Tokyo "properly handle" the issue.
China "once again urges Japan to sincerely face up to its history of aggression and seriously reflect on it, and respect the feelings of peoples from victimized Asian countries, including China", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.