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BEIJING (Reuters) - China summoned Japan's ambassador on Thursday to lodge a strong complaint after two Japanese cabinet ministers publicly paid their respects at a controversial Tokyo shrine for war dead, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
The ministers' visit to the Yasukuni Shrine "seriously harms the feelings of the people in China and other Asian victim countries", the ministry said in a statement.
Visits to the shrine by top Japanese politicians outrage China and South Korea because it honors 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, along with war dead.
For Koreans, the shrine is a reminder of Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910-1945. China also suffered under Japanese occupation before and during World War Two.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin summoned Japanese ambassador Masato Kitera for an emergency meeting to lodge "stern representations and express strong opposition and severe condemnation", the ministry said.
"The issue of the Yasukuni Shrine relates to whether or not Japan can correctly recognize and face up to the history of invasion of the Japanese militarists and whether or not they can respect the feelings of the people of China and the other victim nations in Asia," the ministry said.
In April, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not go to the shrine but made an offering to it instead, angering China which said Japan had to face up to its past nationalistic aggression.
"It does not matter in what form or using what identity Japanese political leaders visit the Yasukuni Shrine, it is an intrinsic attempt to deny and beautify that history of invasion by the Japanese militarists," the ministry said.
"Only by correctly facing history, and using history as a mirror, can Japan face the future. We urge Japan to ... take concrete steps to win the trust of the international community, otherwise Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors have no future."
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski and Robert Birsel)