Chinese state media on Wednesday immediately reported Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision not to visit Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which is seen in China as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, on the anniversary Thursday of Japan's surrender in World War II.
But the media reacted unfavorably to Japanese media reports that Abe, as the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, plans to instead make a ritual offering to the Tokyo shrine through a representative of the ruling party.
Xinhua News Agency reported the news by saying, "Abe will offer a sacrifice to the notorious shrine."
The Shinto shrine honors Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal along with millions of war dead. Past visits to the shrine by Japanese political leaders have infuriated some countries that were victims of Japanese wartime aggression, especially China and South Korea.
It is almost certain that the offering of a sacred tree to the shrine by Abe, apparently aimed at appealing to his conservative supporters, would draw criticism from the neighboring countries, which for months already have tensions with Japan over territorial and historical issues.
But Chinese government sources said they welcome Abe's decision not to cross the "red line" of visiting the shrine in person.