Tokyo should be careful about visits by its top officials to the Yasukuni Shrine which honors the country's World War II war criminals, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
"We believe that visits to this shrine and military history are extremely delicate subjects related to World War II, whose consequences remain vivid," Andrei Krivtsov, deputy director of the information department of Russia's Foreign Ministry, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
"One should approach these delicate issues very carefully out of respect for the feelings and dignity of the people who suffered from Japan's actions in the past," Krivtsov said.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, ignoring criticism from home and abroad, visited the war criminals-honoring Yasukuni Shrine early on Tuesday morning.
The Yasukuni Shrine, established in 1869 under Emperor Meiji, honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 class-A war criminals responsible for some of the most atrocious crimes during Japan's war of aggression against its Asian neighbors during World War II.
It is Koizumi's sixth visit to the shrine since he took office in April 2001. Tuesday's visit was the first he had ever paid on Aug 15, the anniversary of Japan's 1945 surrender in World War II.
In 1978, the 14 class-A war criminals, including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo, were listed as the enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine.
Koizumi's repeated visits to the shrine have been denounced by countries which suffered at the hands of Japan's brutal aggression during World War II.