BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- China and South Korea on Thursday strongly condemned the visits of Japanese cabinet members, lawmakers and other politicians to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals in the World War II.
According to Japanese media, the visitors included Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo, Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and State Minister in charge of abduction issue Keiji Furuya, State Minister for administrative reforms and public servant system reforms Tomomi Inada, co-head of the Japan Restoration Party Shintaro Ishihara, Policy Chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Sanae Takaichi, Deputy Head of the Japan Restoration Party Takeo Hiranuma and Director of Youth Division of LDP Shinjirou Koizumi.
At a press briefing in Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that it is an open challenge to historical justice and human conscience that Japanese cabinet members visited the shrine which honors Class-A war criminals on the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, Hong said.
And it severely hurts the feelings of people in victim countries in Asia, including China, he said.
"The attitudes of those in power in Japan toward historical issues, including those concerning the shrine, concern the political foundation of China-Japan relations," Hong said.
In whatever forms and names the Japanese leaders visit the shrine, the nature is that they attempt to deny and glorify the militarism and history of aggression and challenge the results of World War II and the post-war international order. This will draw firm opposition and unanimous condemnation from China and other Asian countries, he said.
In Seoul, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said that it is "deplorable" that Japan's leading politicians and cabinet members visited the Yasukuni Shrine that glorifies the history of imperialistic aggression.
"It shows that they still turn a blind eye to the history," he said in a statement.
Min Hyeon-ju, spokesperson for the ruling Saenuri Party (the New Frontier Party) said that the Japanese cabinet members' visit of the Yasukuni Shrine on the Liberation Day, which is of special significance to South Koreans, is a move in defiance of its lowest moral commitment to South Korea.
Min said that as it has turned a deaf ear to the concerns and warnings from the international community and South Korea in particular, a question mark hangs over the future of Japan, a country that is moving closer to the path of its past militarism.
A spokesperson for the major opposition Democratic Party said that as the international community and neighboring countries are increasingly concerned about Japan's right-wing shift, they have to condemn Abe's self-willed cabinet members who have been hell-bent on visiting the notorious shrine.
Japan should be aware that the move will only inflict a second or a third hurt to its neighboring countries and peoples that suffered severely from Japan's war of aggression, said the spokesperson, who demanded that the Japanese government and politicians adopt a responsible and penitent attitude toward history.
In an editorial published on Wednesday, the Hankyoreh Sinmun said: "This year, we greet the anniversary (of South Korean Independence Day) with the most militarist, right-wing administration in Japan since the Second World War."
Criticizing Japan's moves to "amend the constitution to legalize the possession of a standing military," the leading South Korean paper said:"Japan hasn't made a clean break with its imperialist history, nor does (it) give any reason to believe it will do so."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe renewed on Thursday at Nippon Budokan his pledge to contribute to world peace at a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, but did not mention Japan's wartime aggression in Asia, neither did he "pledge not to fight a war." Observers say the speech is expected to enrage China and South Korea.