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As Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi rose to power this year with pledges of radical reform, one 77-year-old Diet veteran made a brief return to the political arena before deciding to abandon his life’s work.

After hearing Koizumi say that he wanted to visit Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the nation’s war dead — including Class-A war criminals — on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, Hideo Den retracted an earlier decision to retire and ran unsuccessfully for a sixth term in July’s Upper House election.

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