BEIJING, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- China has warned that Japan will cause more damage to bilateral ties if its Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, follows recent encouragement and visits the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in October.
"Currently, China-Japan relations are encountering severe difficulties. If Japan stirs up new provocations on the Yasukuni Shrine issue, there will surely be more serious consequences," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing on Wednesday.
Her comments came after Japanese Cabinet Secretariat Advisor Isao Iijima said on Monday that he hoped Abe would visit the shrine in October during the autumn festival.
The shrine to the 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 convicted Class-A war criminals, is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
Japanese leaders' attitude on visiting the shrine reflects whether Japan correctly understands and treats its own militarist past and history of aggression, and whether it respects the feelings of people in victim countries, including China, Hua said.
It also relates to the political foundation of bilateral ties, according to the spokeswoman.
She reiterated China's firm opposition to Japanese leaders visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, no matter when and in whatever forms or names.
"Japan should have a clear understanding of this," Hua said, urging Japan not to misread the situation, mislead public opinion and make mistakes one after another.
Relations between China and Japan soured following the Japanese government's unilateral move in September 2012 to "nationalize" part of the Diaoyu Islands which, China says, have been Chinese territory since ancient times.
Repeated visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders and lawmakers have become a major obstacle for Japan's chances of mending ties with its neighbors, especially China and South Korea, which suffered from Japan's invasion during World War II.
The strained diplomatic relations have taken a toll on economic cooperation. Data from the Japan External Trade Organization shows Japanese exports to China dropped by 16.7 percent in the first six months of 2013, compared with a decline of 14.8 percent in the second half of 2012, to the lowest level in four years.
Recently, Japan has made calls for dialogue with China without any conditions, but China has objected that the Japanese side has kept acting provocatively while chanting empty slogans without any sincerity regarding dialogue.
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