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|Thursday, August 02, 2001, updated at 16:30(GMT+8)|
Japan's DPJ Leader Against Koizumi's Yasukuni Shrine VisitYukio Hatoyama, leader of Japan's largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Thursday reiterated his opposition to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's controversial plan to visit the Yasukuni Shrine on the August 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, Kyodo News reported.
"It must be blocked when we think of (war) victims in countries such as China and South Korea," Hatoyama said at a seminar in Zao in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, organized by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the country's largest labor group and a DPJ backer.
Koizumi, who was elected prime minister in April, claimed in his campaign for the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that he would visit the shrine in an official capacity as prime minister.
Despite strong opposition from China and South Korea, Koizumi repeated Monday he has not changed his mind about visiting the shrine.
Koizumi's planned visit to the shrine was also opposed by Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who said Monday she wanted Koizumi to reconsider his plan.
"The prime minister's intention represents that of the country itself ... He should not visit the shrine," Tanaka told reporters.
The Yasukuni shrine, a bastion of the wartime government- sponsored Shintoism and symbol of militarism in Japan before and during World War II, houses the memorial tablets of 14 class-A war criminals, including wartime personnel and officials who have died since 1853 in Japan's various wars.
Japanese cabinet ministers' visits to the shrine are also controversial because Japan's postwar Constitution stipulates separation of the state and religion.
Visits to the shrine by Japan's public figures often draw criticism from other Asian countries which were invaded by Japanese forces before and during World War II.
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