Compiled from wire reports SEOUL — The South Korean government imposed a permanent entry ban Friday on 25 Japanese accused of civilian massacres and abuses during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

It is the first time South Korea has taken such a measure since the country amended its immigration laws in 1997 to pave the way for bans against Japanese accused of war crimes.

The move comes amid rows over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s contentious visit Monday to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine and a Japanese history textbook that critics say attempts to justify Japan’s wartime past.

The South Korean Justice Ministry did not identify any of the elderly Japanese affected by the ban or disclose details about the atrocities they were accused of committing.

“More Japanese war criminals will be added to the list of entry bans as we continue going over thousands of names,” an official at the ministry said.

The ministry scrutinized a list of 5,300 Japanese World War II war criminals and microfilm that the South Korean Foreign Ministry obtained from Japanese citizens’ groups and U.S. government archives.

South Korea’s ruling Millennium Democratic Party staged a rally Friday at the National Assembly, denouncing Koizumi’s visit to the Shinto shrine, which honors Japan’s 2.5 million war dead since the mid-19th century, including 14 Class A war criminals convicted by the Allied powers.

“The current situation in Japan, where an antipeace mood is on the rise with the return of rightwing forces and militarism, spells misfortune for world peace and Japan itself,” said the party’s chairman, Kim Joong Kwon.

Koizumi on Monday became the first Japanese prime minister to visit the shrine since 1996. Although he backed down from his initial plan to visit the shrine on Wednesday’s 56th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, many Asian countries — notably China and South Korea — were still enraged.

In Tokyo, five South Korean lawmakers visited Yasukuni Shrine on Friday and demanded that the names of more than 21,000 Koreans who died in the war while fighting for the Imperial Japanese forces be removed from the shrine.

They urged shrine officials to hand over to South Korea the list of Koreans honored at the shrine.

While Koizumi has said he hopes to meet with leaders of South Korea and China to mend strained ties, the lawmakers indicated that they would oppose South Korean President Kim Dae Jung holding such talks with him.

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