SEOUL – The secretaries general of the three ruling bloc parties told a top Seoul official Tuesday they will push for the construction of an alternative war memorial to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine.
Beside the country’s war dead, since the mid-1970s the controversial shrine honors 14 Class-A World War II war criminals.
During a meeting at the Blue House presidential office in Seoul, the secretaries general told Pak Chi Won, President Kim Dae Jung’s top secretary, that they had visited the National Cemetery in the capital before the talks, according to Japanese officials.
The secretaries acknowledged the need for an alternate facility to the Shinto shrine, a move Seoul has long been calling for, after visiting the cemetery, the officials said.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has paid homage at the shrine three times since taking office in April 2001: in August 2001, April 2002, and Jan. 14.
The visits have provoked anger from Asian nations, chiefly from South Korea and China, where memories of Japanese military atrocities before and during World War II are still fresh.
Meeting with Pak were Taku Yamasaki, of Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party; Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, of New Komeito; and Toshihiro Nikai, of the New Conservative Party.
Fuyushiba and Nikai also told Pak they will continue to try to extend the right to vote in local elections to ethnic Koreans in Japan.
On Dec. 24, a Japanese government advisory panel proposed building a national, secular and permanent memorial facility to coexist with Yasukuni.
The proposal met opposition from some members of the LDP and from the Japanese Association for the Bereaved Families of War Dead, who say construction of the memorial would damage Yasukuni’s significance.
Koizumi said Dec. 24 he would continue to visit Yasukuni Shrine even if a new national memorial were built.
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