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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Koizumi 'will visit war shrine'
Junichiro Koizumi
Mr Koizumi says he is yet to make a final decision
By Charles Scanlon in Tokyo

A senior official in Japan's ruling party says he believes the Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, will go ahead with a visit to a controversial war shrine later this month.

Mr Koizumi is believed to have been wavering in his decision because of strong opposition from Japan's Asian neighbours and from within his own government.

Chinese officials have stepped up their appeals for the visit to be cancelled.

The Japanese foreign minister has also publicly advised against it - as have other influential members of the governing coalition.

International concern

Last week Mr Koizumi said he would consult further before making a final decision. But the secretary-general of his Liberal Democratic Party now says he believes the visit will go ahead.

Yasukuni shrine
Pressure to keep away from the Yasukuni shrine
The official, Taku Yamazaki, said he supported the prime minister but added that efforts should be made not to undermine relations with neighbouring countries.

But Chinese officials have told a visiting delegation that a visit to the shrine would damage relations.

And South Korea has also voiced strong objections. They see the Yasukuni shrine as a symbol of Japanese militarism and nationalism.

It honours the souls of Japanese soldiers including leading war criminals hanged by the allied powers after Japan's surrender in 1945.

There is talk of possible concessions - that Mr Koizumi will visit unofficially either before or after the formal ceremonies on 15 August.

There may also be another statement from the Japanese Government statement apologising for its past aggression in Asia. But it will not be enough to satisfy the critics at home or abroad.

Japanese opponents would see the prime minister's visit as a violation of the constitution which ensures the separation of church and state.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"His own Foreign Minister has publically advised against the visit"
See also:

30 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pressure over Japan PM's shrine visit
11 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi to honour war dead
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
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Junichiro Koizumi
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