TOKYO, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States said Thursday it was "disappointed" by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, saying the move would "exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors."
"Japan is a valued ally and friend. Nevertheless, the United States is disappointed that Japan's leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors," the U.S. Embassy in Japan said in a statement on its website.
Abe on Thursday visited the shrine, which honors the country's war dead, including 14 class-A war criminals. The shrine has been seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
It is the first time in seven years a sitting Japanese prime minister has visited the shrine. Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a visit in August 2006.
Abe's visit has drawn strong opposition from neighboring countries, especially from China and South Korea, both of whom suffered Japan's brutal aggression during World War II.
"(We) strongly protest and condemn the Japanese leader's wrongdoing," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said immediately after the visit.
The move whitewashes Japanese aggression and colonial rule, overthrows the international community's trial of Japanese militarism and challenges the post-war international order, the spokesman said.
Qin said the Japanese leader's actions give its Asian neighbors and the international community every reason to be highly vigilant and deeply concerned over the road Japan will take in the future.
The South Korean government on Thursday also officially denounced Abe's visit, the country's Yonhap news agency reported.
[Photo]Japanese PM Abe visits notorious Yasukuni shrine
Japanese PM Abe visits notorious Yasukuni shrine despite opposition
TOKYO, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the war-linked Yasukuni shrine on Thursday despite strong opposition from neighboring countries. Full story
China scathing on Abe's Yasukuni visit
BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday strongly condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, saying the Japanese leader's move has deeply hurt the feelings of Asian war victims.
"(We) strongly protest and condemn the Japanese leader's wrongdoing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said immediately after Abe's Thursday visit to the shrine, where 14 WWII class-A war criminals are honored. Full story
Abe's shrine visit draws wide condemnation, criticism
TOKYO/BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday has drawn wide condemnation and criticism at home and abroad. Full story