Shinzo Abe, deputy secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, indicated Sunday he would visit Yasukuni Shrine if he becomes prime minister.

Referring to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visit to the war-related shrine, Abe said on a TV program, “It is natural for the country’s leader to visit (Yasukuni) to console those who died for the country.

“It is nonsense to argue whether the visit is an official one or not. The prime minister should visit (Yasukuni),” Abe said.

Visiting the Shinto shrine is a source of diplomatic disputes with other Asian countries as it honors convicted Class-A war criminals from World War II among the country’s war dead.

Abe visited the shrine Aug. 15, when Japan marked the 59th anniversary of its surrender in the war. At the time, he was the LDP’s secretary general.

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