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Ambassador Criticizes Koizumi for 5th War Shrine Visit

China's ambassador to Japan criticized Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo today.

Wang Yi said the Chinese government firmly opposed such visits to the shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals amongst about two million Japanese war dead, at any time and in any form.

At a time when China was celebrating the successful return of Shenzhou VI, Koizumi's act constituted a serious provocation to the Chinese people, said Wang.

He added that Koizumi should take responsibility for undermining the countries' bilateral relationship.

It is Koizumi's fifth visit to Yasukuni since taking office in 2001.

His previous visits have provoked strong criticism from Japan's neighbors, especially China and South Korea, making the issue a major stumbling block in developing smooth relations.

The Osaka High Court ruled on September 30 that the visits were in his official capacity and had violated the constitution, which provides for the separation of state and religion.

A district court in Fukuoka prefecture made a similar judgment in April last year, but eight other rulings by district and high courts in Japan, including Tokyo High Court, have not found the visits unconstitutional.

All ten rulings have rejected demands for compensation to plaintiffs on the basis that the visits did not infringe their rights. The case has yet to reach the Supreme Court.

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2005)

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