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China-Japan dispute over Yasakuni shrine despite Li-Abe meeting

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Beijing (Oct 17, 2014): China on Friday strongly condemned the visit by over 100 Japanese lawmakers to controversial Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo and advised Japan to "repent for its aggressive past" and disassociate with militarism.

"China is gravely concerned with and firmly opposed to the negative trend related to the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.

Retreating that official visits to the Shrine are set to adversely impact good relations between the two countries, China advised Japan to face up to its militarist past.

"China would like to reiterate that Sino-Japan relations can only realise healthy and stable development when Japan seriously faces up to and repents of its aggressive past and disassociates itself with militarism," Hong added.

"We urge Japan to deal with the issue with a responsible attitude, honour its commitments on historical issues, and regain trust from its Asian neighbours and the international community through concrete actions," he added.

About 110 Japanese lawmakers from a non-partisan group visited the Yasukuni Shrine yesterday morning, which honours convicted World War-II Class-A war criminals along with the war dead.

Abe, who infuriated Beijing by visiting the shrine in December last year, also sent ritual donations to the war-linked shrine under the title of "Prime Minister".

The 145-year-old shrine, honours some 2.5 million Japanese citizens who died during the World War-11. Though, the site is deeply controversial as it honours a number of convicted Class A war criminals and is a symbol of Japan's militarist colonial past.

Meanwhile, reports from Milan today said that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Japanese counterpart Abe briefly met during the Asia, Europe leaders meeting and exchanged greetings but Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei declined to confirm it saying he has no information.

This will be the first meeting between the two Prime Ministers since they came to power last year amid rising tensions over a chain of disputed islands in East China Sea, claimed by both the countries.

Expectations are that Abe will be visiting Beijing to take part in the next month's APEC summit here during which he is expected to have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Hong did not confirm whether the meeting could take place.