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Reuters AlertNet - Key facts about Japan's Yasukuni war shrine
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Key facts about Japan's Yasukuni war shrine
26 May 2005 05:38:05 GMT
Source: Reuters
TOKYO, May 26 (Reuters) - Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine is at the centre of a row between Japan and China, triggered this week after China's vice premier Wu Yi cancelled a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi over the issue of his visits there.

Here are some facts about the shrine.

* The Yasukuni shrine established in 1869 and funded by the government until 1945, is dedicated to Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including around 1,000 war criminals convicted and executed by a series of Allied tribunals during and after the war.

* In Japanese, "yasu" means peace and "kuni" means country.

* The shrine is seen by China and North and South Korea, all invaded by imperial Japan in the run-up to World War Two, as a symbol of Japan's militaristic past.

* War criminals were designated "Class A", "B" or "C" by the Allied tribunals mainly according to their rank in the military or government. "Class A" war criminals included wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo, as well as former war ministers, foreign ministers and generals.

* Fourteen "Class A" war criminals were officially enshrined at Yasukuni along with about 1,700 other war dead in 1978. News of the secret ceremony caused an uproar when it leaked out six months later.

* Yasuhiro Nakasone was the first postwar prime minister to make an official visit to the shrine. He paid his respects there in 1985, but abandoned further visits after protests in China.

* Koizumi promised to visit Yasukuni as prime minister during his campaign for ruling party president in 2001, a pledge some say was key to winning the election since it secured the votes of a powerful association of war veterans and their families. He has since worshipped there every year but has yet to go this year.

* Koizumi and other lawmakers say their visits to the shrine are not intended to glorify war but to honour the war dead and pray for peace.

Source: Reuters,

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