Japanese ministers criticize Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Two Japanese cabinet ministers joined on Tuesday a wave of criticism over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's fresh visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on Monday. Construction and Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa said, "It was very regrettable. I'm concerned that (the visit) would have a negative impact on Japan's relations with China and South Korea, and become a hurdle to the stability and development in East Asia."

The minister, who comes from the New Komeito party of Japan's ruling coalition, said he will do his utmost to maintain the friendly ties between Japan and those two countries.

Disaster Management Minister Yoshitaka Murata also expressed his regret, saying he had tried to persuade the premier not to pay the visit.

On Monday, Koizumi made his fifth visit to the shrine which honors 14 Class-A war criminals and played an infamous role in the period of Japan's military expansion. His action has drawn stern criticism and strong protests from China and South Korea, reports Xinhua. I.L.

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