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Japan War Shrine Visit Draws Fire

April 23, 2002

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TOKYO (AP) _ Ninety-one Japanese legislators went to the Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday, two days after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to the war shrine drew anger from Asian nations.

The lawmakers visited the shrine in central Tokyo, which honors about 2.5 million Japanese war dead including several executed war criminals such as war-era Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. Among the lawmakers was Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and a close ally of Koizumi.

Koizumi’s surprise visit to Yasukuni Sunday prompted condemnation throughout Asia. South Korea and China called in their Japanese ambassadors to lodge protests.

China on Tuesday postponed a planned trip to Beijing next week by Japanese Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said. Beijing also put off a planned port call to Japan next month by Chinese warships, the ministry said.

Koizumi visited this month to avoid going during the more sensitive period of August, as he did last year. Japan marks its surrender in World War II in August, also around the time of Japan’s Festival of the Dead.

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