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Relatives of the war dead and citizens representing various groups demanded Friday that Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of World War II, but to no avail.

The National Liaison Conference of the Association of War Dead for Peace, the National Christian Council in Japan and 50 other citizens’ groups submitted their joint request to the governor’s secretary.

Ishihara customarily visits the shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals along with the war dead, every Aug. 15.

The kin of the war dead said many who lost relatives in the war were unhappy their loved ones are honored at the shrine, which was the spiritual pillar of Japan’s militarism. They also objected to Ishihara’s visits.

“We asked the governor to consider the history of Japan’s invasion of other Asian countries and the fact that a number of residents from these countries live in the capital,” group representative Shigenori Nishikawa later told a news conference.

Seiji Suga, of the National Christian Council in Japan, said the governor’s visits violate the Constitution, which stipulates the separation of the state and religion.

Ishihara, however, remained unfazed.

“(The request) is nonsense,” he told a regular news conference the same day. “Those who don’t want to go (to the shrine) should just not go.”

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