TOKYO, April 21 -- A Japanese civil group on Monday sued with the Tokyo District Court over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, stating Abe's move was unconstitutional.
The group, which comprises 273 people including relatives of Japanese war dead, argued that Abe's shrine visit under prime minister's title violated the country's constitution principle of separation of state and religion.
The accused included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Yasukuni Shrine and the Japanese government, according to the indictment, which demanded Abe not to make further visits to the controversial shrine and asked the shrine not to accept Abe's worship.
The plaintiffs also said Abe's visit to the shrine damaged their rights of living in peace and other rights protected by the constitution and they also demanded 10,000 yen (97 U.S. dollars) damages for each member of the group.
The Yasukuni Shrine is considered as a symbol of Japan's past militarism as it enshrines 14 leading convicted Japanese war criminals during the World War II among millions of Japanese war dead.
Abe worshipped the notorious shrine on Dec. 26, 2013, the first anniversary of the launch of his cabinet, and the move triggered strong criticism worldwide, including neighboring China and South Korea, both of which suffered Japan's brutal aggression.
The United States, Japan's key ally, commented Abe's shrine visit as "disappointed" immediately after his worship, saying the move would further escalate tensions between Japan and the two neighbor countries.
The plaintiffs said that Abe tries to glorify Japan's past through the shrine visit and revitalize the shrine as the spiritual support of the country's past militarism, adding the move, a preparation of war, has already threatened Japanese people 's rights of living in peace.
On Monday, Abe made an offering to the Yasukuni in the first day of the shrine's spring festival under the name of prime minister.
Hishiki Masaharu, who participated in a similar lawsuit in Osaka, said that Abe's offering to the Yasukuni also violated the constitutional principle of separation of state and religion, adding Abe is sparing no effort to revise the current constitution, therefore the prime minister has no willing to abide by the country's supreme law.
A citizens' group in Japan's Osaka on April 11 also filed a lawsuit with the Osaka District Court claiming that Abe's Yasukuni visit has violated their constitutional right to "live in peace."