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China summoned Tokyo's ambassador Friday to protest over visits by a Japanese cabinet minister and scores of parliamentarians to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, Beijing's foreign ministry said.
"Vice Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin has summoned the Japanese ambassador to China for a solemn protest and a strong condemnation," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
The visit "is a blatant attempt to whitewash Japanese militarism's history of aggression and to challenge the outcomes of the Second World War and the post-war international order", Hua added.
"China is resolutely opposed to that."
In Tokyo, Yoshitaka Shindo, minister for internal affairs and communications, insisted he was paying homage at the shrine as an individual, and had played down the potential for diplomatic fallout.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday donated a symbolic gift to the shrine, in what was taken as a sign that he would not be visiting.
"Only by facing up to and earnestly reflecting on its history of aggression can Japan draw lessons from history and open up the future for its relations with Asian neighbours," Hua said.