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Japanese Parliamentary Members Visit Yasukuni Shrine
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Nearly 100 Japanese parliamentary members from various political parties paid a joint visit to the notorious war-related Yasukuni Shrine on Friday morning.

The shrine visitors included 87 lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, two from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, one each from the minor People's New Party and New Party Daichi, and six parliamentary secretaries of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet.

Apart from the group, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Tamisuke Watanuki, leader of the People's New Party, also visited the shrine Friday, according to Kyodo News.

Koizumi, who has visited the Yasukuni Shrine in defiance of strong protests from China and other Asian nations for five consecutive years since taking office in 2001, said on late Thursday that he will "decide appropriately" whether to visit the shrine during its annual spring festival starting from Friday.

Relations between China and Japan have deteriorated to the lowest level since their normalization in 1972, due to Koizumi's repeated visits to the shrine.

The shrine honors more than 2 million Japanese war dead along with 14 of Japan's wartime leaders charged as Class-A war criminals, who were responsible for the most atrocious crimes during Japan's war of aggression against its Asian neighbors.

(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2006)

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