China has summoned the Japanese ambassador in Beijing to lodge a protest about a visit by prime minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni war shrine in Japan.
Mr Abe is the first serving prime minister since 2006 to visit the shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including hundreds of convicted war criminals. The event was televised live.
"It is not my intention at all to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people," he said.
Officials said Mr Abe visited the shrine in a private capacity and was not representing the government.
Japan occupied Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and much of China before and during World War II.
The BBC reports China and South Korea frequently complain that Japan has not done enough to atone for its crimes and tries to whitewash history.
Yasukuni was established in the mid-19th Century to remember men, women and children who died in war. It now commemorates some 2.5 million people