South Korean government Tuesday expressed "deep disappointment and anger" over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.
The bilateral ties and friendly cooperation between South Korea and Japan was worsened by Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, said South Korean Foreign Ministry Spokesman Choo kyu-ho in a statement.
"The South Korean government regrets that Prime Minister Koizumi paid a visit to Yasukuni Shrine despite repeated concerns and opposition from the international community," the spokesman said.
"Such a nationalistic attitude has disturbed Northeast Asia's regional cooperation and friendship," Choo said.
"Japan will have to build confidence with neighbors if it is really willing to contribute to regional peace and prosperity and play a responsible role in international society," he added.
Following the statement, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun appealed for Japan's sincere self-reflection of its war crimes, saying that the Japanese government should take practical measures for the settlement of pending bilateral issues, such as the shrine visits, history textbook distortions and the Dokdo islets.
South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ryu Moong-hwan summoned Japanese ambassador to South Korea on Tuesday morning to state the country's official stance over Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.
South Korean ambassador to Japan will go to the Japanese Foreign Ministry later on the day to protest Koizumi's visit, the Foreign Ministry said.
Koizumi visited the Yasukuni Shrine early Tuesday despite opposition from neighbor countries including South Korea and China.
It was Koizumi's sixth visit to the shrine after he took office as Japanese prime minister in 2001.
The S. Korean government has warned earlier that Koizumi's pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine will further strain the bilateral ties between Tokyo and Seoul.
The Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals of World War II.