Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Thursday and made a ritual offering.
Abe's visits to Yasukuni shrine, which the Chinese see a symbol of Japanese militarism in World War Two, has often attracted heavy criticism from Beijing.
The prime minister last visited Yasukuni in 2013, eliciting strong condemnation from China and South Korea. Even ally US rebuked Abe for the visit loaded with symbolism.
The Japanese honour their war dead at the controversial shrine but China and South Korea are uneasy over the fact that 14 leaders convicted as war criminals by an allied tribunal are also honoured at the shrine along with the war dead.
Abe's offering of "masakaki" trees at the shrine during the spring festival comes ahead of Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's upcoming visit to China.
China's communist party mouthpiece Global Times said the visit will damage ties. "The Yasukuni offering is apparently a move went opposite to enhance relations between China and Japan and will continue damage mutual trust," the paper wrote.
China, which had repeatedly denounced Abe's visits to Yasukuni, said Japan should make a clean break from militarism and gain trust from its neighbors and the international community with real action, CCTV reported.
Japan is hosting the Group of Seven (G7) summit in May which will be followed by a summit with China and South Korea.