Japan’s prime minister’s visits Yasukuni War Shrine, China and South Korea protest

Japanese political figures and social organizations criticized on Monday Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, pointing out that such a move damages relations with neighboring countries. Yohei Kono, speaker of the House of Representatives, said public opinion surveys conducted by Japanese media had showed that the Japanese people was not in favor of the visits.

Former Secretary General of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Koichi Kato said the Japan-China relationship is bound to deteriorate due to Koizumi's visits to the srine.

Koizumi was intended to accentuate the visit on Monday as a private act by taking a different way from the previous ones, but that did not work in a diplomatic sense, he said.

Koizumi made his fifth annual visit early Monday to the shrine which honors Japan's World War II Class-A war criminals. The premier did not donate money to the shrine and sign on the visitor's book as a prime minister as he has done in the previous visits.Still, dressed in business suits instead of formal traditional Japanese garment, he just prayed outside of the main temple.

China and South Korea, which suffered from Tokyo's conquest of East Asia in the first half of the 20th century, immediately filed protests with Japanese officials, the AP reports. A.M.

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