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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday he visits the war-related Yasukuni Shrine each year because it “feels natural” to do so.

Koizumi has visited the Shinto shrine in Tokyo every year since taking office in 2001, saying it helps him renew his resolve to create a world free of war. The most recent visit was Jan. 1.

They are “aimed at offering sincere feeling based on lament. It is natural to feel this way as a Japanese,” Koizumi told the House of Councilors Budget Committee.

Koizumi said he does not intend to worsen relations with other countries when he visits the shrine.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Saturday slammed Koizumi’s visits to the shrine, saying it is the most important issue in relations between China and Japan.

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