OSAKA — About 120 people in Taiwan will file a lawsuit in mid-February against the Japanese government and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi over his repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, a lawyer involved in the case said Wednesday.

The suit to be filed with the Osaka District Court will demand 10,000 yen per plaintiff in compensation, saying Koizumi’s visit to the Shinto shrine in Tokyo violates Japan’s Constitution, which stipulates the separation of state and religion, the lawyer said.

Yasukuni honors the nation’s war dead, as well as convicted Class-A war criminals, and is regarded as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule between 1895 and 1945, and many Taiwanese regard Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni as an affront.

The lawyer said the plaintiffs suffered psychological damage from Koizumi’s visits to the shrine.

Kao Chin Su-mei, a Taiwan legislator, and relatives of indigenous Taiwanese buried in the shrine after World War II are among the plaintiffs, the lawyer said.

Since becoming prime minister in April 2001, Koizumi has visited the shrine three times, most recently on Jan. 14.

His visits have drawn criticism at home and abroad. Citizens’ groups and Korean residents of Japan have filed similar suits against the government and the prime minister with several local courts.

During Diet deliberations Tuesday, Koizumi said he will continue with his annual visits to the shrine as long as he is prime minister.

Referring to the war criminals enshrined at Yasukuni, Koizumi said, “It does not fit into Japanese sentiment if we do not forgive these people even after death.”

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