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China Daily Website

2 Japan ministers visit Yasukuni shrine

Updated: 2012-08-15 10:34
( Xinhua)

TOKYO - Two Japanese Cabinet ministers Jin Matsubara and Yuichiro Hata, in a disputable move, Wednesday visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on the 67th anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender.

Matsubara, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, and Hata, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, visited the shrine despite calls from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to refrain from official visits.

"This is a private visit to this shrine," Matsubara told reporters. Hata said last Friday that his visit would be a private move as well.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, chief of the biggest opposition Liberal Democratic Party, also visited the shrine Wednesday.

The shrine, which honors some 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 major war criminals, is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism by its Asian neighbors including China and South Korea.

The visits were the first by Cabinet members under a government led by the Democratic Party of Japan which came to power in 2009.

The 16 other current Cabinet members have decided against visiting the shrine.

Noda last week said he decided on the policy of voluntarily refraining from visiting the shrine at the launch of his government last September, and expected all Cabinet members to follow the policy.

The Asian countries, which were invaded by the Japanese military and lost tens of millions of lives during World War II, have firmly opposed Japanese officials' visit to the shrine.

The ties between the countries and Japan have undergone twists and turns due to previous visits.