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Japanese Court Rejects Damages Suit over PM's Shrine Visit

A Japanese high court on Wednesday rejected an appeal for damages over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the war criminal-related Yasukuni Shrine without stating whether the visits are unconstitutional or not.


The ruling came days after the Osaka High Court judged that Koizumi's practice had violated the constitution.


In the lawsuit, more than 70 Japanese plaintiffs and two religious bodies charged that the visits were against the constitution in respect of the separation of state and religion.


The plaintiffs asked the state and the shrine to pay 10,000 yen (about US$88) in damages per person for the mental distress they had suffered.


The Yasukuni Shrine honors 14 Class-A World War II war criminals along with millions of Japanese war dead. Koizumi has paid four annual visits to the facility since he took office in April 2001.


The practice has prevented a smooth development of relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors which were victimized by Japan's aggressions.


The Osaka High Court on Saturday ruled the visits unconstitutional on the grounds that Koizumi used governmental vehicles and signed as prime minister in the visitor's book during his visits from 2001 to 2003.


Besides, the Fukuoka District Court also judged in April 2004 that Koizumi's practice was unconstitutional.


(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2005)

Koizumi Says He Visits Shrine as a Private Individual
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Wen Told Koizumi: Shrine Visits Hurt Ties
Koizumi's Shrine Visit Angers S.Korea
Commentary: Koizumi, Rethink Before Going to Yasukuni Shrine
Visit to Shrine Unacceptable
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