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South Korea has officially demanded that Japan remove the names of Koreans who died in World War II from a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japan’s war dead, said an official from the South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry on Wednesday.

The demand regarding Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and Koreans forced to fight for Japan was formally lodged on July 20, said the official.

Tokyo has responded that it will deliver the request to the shrine and notify Seoul of the results, he said.

South Korea has also demanded that Japan provide a list of the Koreans honored at the shrine.

In 1978, the shrine added seven Class A war criminals tried and hanged after World War II — including Gen. Hideki Tojo, a wartime prime minister — to the 2.5 million who have died in wars since the mid-19th century.

“It is unreasonable for our people to have been enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine along with Class A war criminals who inflicted suffering on our people,” the official said.

More than 21,000 Koreans are reportedly honored at the shrine. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said he plans to visit the shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, sparking a flurry of condemnation from South Korea and China.

Are soldiers heroes?

TAIPEI (Kyodo) Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu said Wednesday that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is free to visit Yasukuni Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the nation’s war dead, but questioned if it was appropriate to worship warriors as national heroes.

“As Japan’s national leader he has the right to decide what he wants to do, therefore it is not convenient for me to comment,” Lu said when asked about Koizumi’s plan to visit the shrine Aug. 15.

But noting that many of the war dead enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine are considered “Japanese heroes,” Lu said it was time to redefine the concept of heroism along the lines of the United Nations’ pursuit of world peace.

“In the past we are proud, of course, too much of fighters, of violence. Now it’s time for us to reconsider what is a real hero,” Lu told members of the Taipei Foreign Correspondents’ Club in a meeting at the Presidential Office.

Koizumi has insisted his planned Yasukuni visit is intended to pay respect to the war dead in the hope there will be no more victims of war in the future.

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