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The government will deny requests from a group of North Korean officials, including senior members of the ruling Workers Party of (North) Korea, to enter Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Friday.

“I received a report that the government has decided not to allow entry, having discussed the issue among related ministries and agencies,” the government’s chief spokesman said at a regular news conference.

A total of eight officials are believed to have requested entry into Japan to attend meetings in Tokyo and other parts of the country, according to government sources.

Factors seen to have influenced the denial of their requests include the controversy over the government’s approval of a school history textbook in April and the growing political row over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s planned visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine later this month.

On Wednesday, Kunihiko Makita, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told a meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party that the North Korean officials’ entry would be approved, seeing “no particular political problems.”

But lawmakers attending the meeting strongly criticized the remarks, asking whether it could be clearly said that there was no problem. Their opposition is believed to have influenced the government’s final decision.

The history textbook, authored by a group of scholars from the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and published by Fuso Publishing Inc., has sparked outrage from Asian neighbors, who say it glosses over Japanese wartime atrocities.

Opposition is also being shown to Koizumi’s planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine for Japanese war dead, which honors about 2.5 million Japanese who died in wars since the mid-19th century, including seven Class A war criminals tried and hanged after World War II.

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