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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"Some would say the current government in Japan is on something of a collision course with its Asian neighbours"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Koizumi to honour war dead
South Korean protester burns Japanese flag
Japan occupied South Korea for 35 years
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has once again said he intends to visit a controversial war-dead shrine - at a time when its neighbours are increasingly angry at Japan's stance on its military past.

I need to make a visit as prime minister because Japan's return to prosperity was helped by the sacrifices of our soldiers

Junichiro Koizumi
Mr Koizumi told parliament that Japan's war criminals had paid for their guilt by facing capital punishment.

He plans to make an official visit to Yasukuni shrine in central Tokyo on 15 August, the anniversary of the end of World War II.

China has renewed its opposition to Mr Koizumi's visit, saying the shrine glorifies Japan's war dead including 14 war criminals convicted by the Allies after World War II.

Former comfort women hold anti-Japan placards, Seoul
Many South Koreans want a boycott of Japanese goods
In South Korea, for a third consecutive day on Wednesday, protesters showed their anger at Japan for refusing to amend new history textbooks that they say gloss over wartime atrocities.

Some protesters threw burning Japanese flags at the embassy in Seoul.

There were also demonstrations by women who were forced to serve as sex slaves, known as "comfort women", for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Every Wednesday they protest at the failure of the Japanese books to mention their experiences and those of thousands of other Asian women.

"The Japanese are just waiting until all the women die so that there is no living evidence," said 73-year-old protester Kang Il-chool.

'Wrong doing'

South Korea's Deputy Prime Minister Han Wan-sang said the international community should not tolerate what he called Japan's "violence-justifying history textbooks".

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Koizumi: Death has made Japan's soldiers equal
"Despite the fact that Japan inflicted physical and mental suffering on the Korean people, it claims the textbook issue is a domestic matter," Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported him as saying.

"Japan should acknowledge its wrong doing and teach the nation's children properly."

China has also lodged an official complaint with the Japanese Government.

War dead

Mr Koizumi has visited the shrine in a personal capacity, but next month's visit will be the first time a post-war Japanese premier has made an official visit since Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1985.

There are different ways to respect the spirits of the war dead, and Japan has its own way

Junichiro Koizumi
"I was wondering why former prime ministers did not visit," Mr Koizumi told parliament on Wednesday. "I had thought I should not follow suit if I become prime minister.

"I need to make a visit as prime minister because Japan's return to prosperity was helped by the sacrifices of our soldiers."

During the debate, he questioned if war criminals should be separated from the remaining war dead.

"Why do we have to differentiate the war dead?" he asked. "A-class war criminals have already been punished with death sentences.

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See also:

10 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Anger deepens in history book row
14 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi courts shrine controversy
14 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's controversial war shrine
04 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan stands firm on history book
03 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan textbook angers neighbours
31 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Attack on Japan ministry website
26 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
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