South Korean President Park Geun-Hye Wednesday warned Japan against shifting to the right and aggravating the "scars of the past" after Japanese ministers and lawmakers visited a controversial war shrine.
The Yasukuni shrine in central Tokyo is seen by Japan's Asian neighbours as a potent symbol of Japan's wartime aggression and imperialist past. It honours 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leading war criminals.
"Japan should go harmoniously with the international community," Park told a meeting of chief editors from major domestic newspapers and broadcasters, according to the Yonhap news agency.
"If it leans to the right, relations with Northeast Asia and other Asian countries will be in trouble.
"If (Japan) has a different perception of history and aggravates the scars of the past, it will be difficult to build future-oriented ties."
The remarks came a day after nearly 170 Japanese parliamentarians visited the Yasukuni shrine.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se had Monday had already shelved a proposed trip to Tokyo in protest at trips by Japanese cabinet ministers to the shrine over the weekend.
Beijing also protested against the weekend visits, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying telling reporters that Japan must atone for its past behaviour.
Japan's premier Shinzo Abe did not make a pilgrimage but paid for equipment made of wood and fabric, bearing his name and title, which was used to decorate an altar.
Anger grew in South Korea after Abe said Tuesday that the definition of aggression was vague, and depended on the point of view.
South Korean newspapers covered the remarks on their front pages, with the Chosun Ilbo headline reading: "Prime Minister Abe even denies Imperial Japan's aggression."