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Abe downplays Aso's call for emperor to visit to Yasukuni Shine+
[January 30, 2006]

Abe downplays Aso's call for emperor to visit to Yasukuni Shine+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Jan. 30_(Kyodo) _ Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Monday he thinks Foreign Minister Taro Aso's recent call for the emperor to visit Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine was his personal view.

The Japanese government's top spokesman said at a news conference that whether the emperor visits the shrine is a matter that should be regarded as his personal affair and the Imperial Household Agency is dealing with it in view of the emperor's "special status" and social circumstances.

Aso said Saturday that it is desirable for the emperor to visit Yasukuni Shrine "from the viewpoint of the spirits of the war dead," who he said had hailed "Banzai" for the emperor before sacrificing themselves in the war.

The last Japanese emperor to visit Yasukuni, where the war dead are honored, was Emperor Hirohito. He did so in November 1975, before convicted Japanese war criminals, including executed Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo, were quietly enshrined there in 1978.

China, South Korea and other Asian countries Japan invaded and occupied before and during World War II view Yasukuni Shrine as symbolic of unrepentant Japanese militarism and regard Koizumi's repeated visits to it as insensitive.

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