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Japan minister, former leader visit war shrine

Japan minister, former leader visit war shrine

A Japanese Cabinet minister and former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid their respects Friday at a controversial war shrine in Tokyo vilified by Asian neighbors for glorifying past military aggressions.
The visit by Koizumi and Farm Minister Seiichi Ota to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors some 2.5 million Japanese war dead including executed war criminals, came on the 63rd anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.
Koizumi's repeated visits while in office from 2001 to 2006 hamstrung relations with China and South Korea, who denounced the act as a sign Japan had failed to fully atone for invasions and atrocities during the period.
Nationalists and many conservative Japanese, however, see the shrine as a legitimate way to honor fallen soldiers and accuse critics of trying to force Japan into paralyzing war guilt even after more than six decades under a strictly pacifist constitution.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has vowed to stay away from Yasukuni, focusing instead on improving ties with neighboring countries.
In the most conspicuous sign of progress so far, Chinese President Hu Jintao traveled to Japan in May _ the first visit by a Chinese leader in a decade _ and held a formal summit with Fukuda, and they agreed to work together on everything from climate change to territorial disputes.
Most members of Fukuda's recently reshuffled Cabinet are unlikely to visit Yasukuni on Friday, though media reports say Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka and Seiko Noda, state minister in charge of consumer affairs, are scheduled to stop by in the afternoon.
Fukuda will pay homage to Japan's war dead by laying flowers at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery and plans to attend a memorial service in Tokyo along with the emperor and empress, according to Kyodo News agency.


Updated : 2021-10-18 20:01 GMT+08:00