China reacts calmly to Japan PM's ritual offering to Yasukuni shrine


China on Thursday reacted relatively calmly to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, for its annual autumn festival.

The official Xinhua News Agency did not dispatch an urgent story on Abe's offering, in his capacity as prime minister, of a "masakaki" tree, traditionally used in Shinto rituals, to the shrine, which is seen by Japan's Asian neighbors as a symbol of its past militarism.

Xinhua, as well as the state-owned China Central Television, instead reported the news in a matter-of-fact way.

The manner was different from Aug. 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, when Abe also refrained from visiting the shrine in person and instead made a monetary offering in his position as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Yasukuni honors Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal along with millions of war dead. Past visits to the Shinto shrine by Japanese political leaders have outraged countries that were victims of Japanese wartime aggression, especially China and South Korea.

Abe's decision not to visit the shrine comes as officials from both Tokyo and Beijing are trying to find ways to mend their relations strained by territorial and historical issues.

On Wednesday, Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga acknowledged that a senior Chinese diplomat made a secret visit to Japan earlier this month for informal talks aimed at improving relations between the two countries.