• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday he has yet to decide whether to visit Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The shrine honors about 2.5 million Japanese who have died in wars since the mid-19th century. Since 1978, it has also honored Class A war criminals tried and hanged after World War II, including wartime Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo.

When asked during a news conference in Hiroshima whether he had changed his mind over the issue, Koizumi remained noncommittal.

“I am in the process of listening to opinions from various sectors in an open manner. I am thinking about it carefully,” he said. “I must reach a conclusion soon, but I need more time.”

A visit by Koizumi to the Tokyo shrine on Aug. 15 would almost certainly sour Japan’s ties with both China and South Korea, which would likely see the visit as a salute to Japan’s imperialist past.

At the same news conference, Koizumi was asked if a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year will be compiled.

“Various economic data will be issued,” he said. “I have said that I will deal with situations in a bold but flexible manner, while assessing what steps are necessary at that point.”

But he added that he would not revert to traditional pump-priming measures such as pouring money into public works projects.

“Is an increase in public works projects good as a step for the economy? I don’t think so,” he said.

Regarding the compilation of the fiscal 2002 budget, Koizumi said he plans to adhere to the policy drawn up by an economic panel to earmark 2 trillion yen for seven priority areas while capping overall general expenditures at 48 trillion yen.

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