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The government has come up with a plan to build a nondenominational cenotaph for the nation’s war dead in the wake of the diplomatic furor caused by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, government sources said Saturday.

The state-run memorial facility would be modeled after the Cornerstone of Peace in Okinawa Prefecture, where the names of 238,161 victims of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa — including Americans and Koreans — are engraved, the sources said.

The plan is scheduled to be discussed by a private advisory panel to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda to be set up in September, the sources said.

Government officials realized the need to build a new memorial after Koizumi’s visit Monday to Yasukuni Shrine caused outrage in China and South Korea, the sources said.

The Shinto shrine, widely viewed as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism, honors the nation’s 2.5 million war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals.

The prime minister originally intended to pay a visit to the shrine on Wednesday, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II, but moved the schedule forward by two days after coming under intense pressure at home and abroad.

Strong criticism from China and South Korea also influenced visits to the shrine by past leaders. Then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone made the first official visit to the shrine after the war on Aug. 15, 1985, but refrained from visiting again the following year.

The sources said many officials are now of the opinion that visits by prime ministers to the shrine on Aug. 15 will be “eternally difficult.”

In a statement issued on the occasion of his visit on Monday, Koizumi said, “We need to discuss what can be done in order for people at home and abroad to be able to pay tribute without discomfort.”

Koizumi has shown interest in various proposals on how to mourn the war dead, such as the creation of a new national cemetery or expansion of the nondenominational Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, where unknown victims of wars are buried.

The new state-run cemetery plan was dismissed after government officials believed it would be “unrealistic” to dig up and transfer the remains of unidentified war victims, the sources said.

They also said Koizumi’s aides favor a plan to collect donations from the public and build a facility that is open to everybody.

However, problems remain on such issues as the location and costs associated with the new cenotaph, as well as possible opposition by members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who were in favor of the prime minister visiting Yasukuni Shrine.

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