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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Japanese premier's shrine statement
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Yasukuni Shrine
Koizumi at the Yasukuni Shrine
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a statement about his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on Monday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda read it out at a news conference at the Prime Minister's Residence in Tokyo. It was broadcast live on Japanese television, and the following are excerpts:

In the past war, Japan brought grave ravages to many people of the world, including our own people.

In particular, with regard to the neighbouring countries in Asia, for a period in the past, Japan embarked on aggression and colonial rule based on mistaken national policies and brought great disaster and suffering to these people.

This has left unhealable wounds among the people of these countries that remain even up to this very day.

Pledge for Peace

Here, I accept with all humility this remorseful history of our country and convey to all victims of the war my heartfelt repentance and condolences with all respect.

I believe that Japan should never again take the road to war

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
I believe that Japan should never again take the road to war.

Before the souls of all those who died in the battlefields with unfailing faith in the motherland's future, I am reminded once again that the peace and prosperity that Japan enjoys today is founded on their noble sacrifice.

Thus, I have made my pledge for peace every year...

Later visit would raise doubts

Since I became Prime Minister, I had stated on many occasions that I would like to pay a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on 15 August.

However, there have been clamorous debates both inside and outside Japan on the legitimacy of my visit to Yasukuni Shrine as the anniversary of the end of war draws near.

There have been demands both domestically and from overseas for the cancellation of the visit.

South Koreans protest outside prime minister's residence in Tokyo
Koreans protest in Tokyo
Under the circumstances, if, contrary to my own intents, my visit to the shrine on the anniversary of the end of the war comes to give rise to suspicions on the part of our people and of the people of foreign countries on Japan's basic commitment to the abolition of all wars and championing peace, it is absolutely contrary to my wishes.

Accepting in all sincerity this situation inside and outside Japan, I have made a personal decision at this time to refrain from paying homage at the shrine on the anniversary and to make the visit on another day...

Seeks to meet neighbours

As soon as the conditions permit, I would like to have frank discussions with the leaders of China and South Korea at an early date to exchange views on peace and development in Asia and the Pacific in the future and to talk about my beliefs as stated earlier.

As an issue for the future, I think there is also a need to discuss how to facilitate paying respect to the war dead by Japanese and foreigners alike without any hard feelings, while respecting the people's sentiments on Yasukuni Shrine and the Chidori-ga-Fuchi cemetery for the war dead.

I fervently hope that the people will understand my feeling on this matter.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

13 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Outrage at Koizumi war shrine visit
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