Five visiting members of South Korea’s National Assembly on Friday criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine as “anachronistic.”
The five lawmakers lashed out at Koizumi’s visit during a news conference at an office building for members of the House of Representatives in Tokyo.
“Forcing through the visit to the shrine honoring Class A war criminals despite protests from Asian nations is an anachronistic act and it is against the separation of politics and religion” stipulated by the Japanese Constitution, one of the lawmakers said.
Referring to the fact that a controversial history textbook written by a group of nationalistic scholars has only been adopted in a limited number of schools, Kim Yong Jim, a member of South Korea’s ruling Millennium Democratic Party, said, “It is proof that the majority of Japanese people oppose the textbook.”
The five politicians also said they will continue to request an apology from Koizumi on the Yasukuni issue and indicated they may oppose a summit meeting the prime minister is hoping for with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung.
“Visiting the shrine is an impolite act and we feel resentment. We will inform our government of our wishes,” one lawmaker said.
After the press conference, the South Korean lawmakers visited Yasukuni Shrine, in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, where they handed over a letter requesting that the shrine remove the names of more than 21,000 South Koreans enshrined there and return lists containing the names to South Korea.
“I am distressed about the 21,186 South Korean victims resting here,” Kim said after visiting the shrine.
Koizumi’s visit to the shrine Monday sparked criticism at home and from Asian nations, including South Korea and China.
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