Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine were "official" acts and "religious activities" that violated the separation of state and religion under Article 20 of the Constitution, the Osaka High Court ruled Friday.

The ruling is a flip-flop from Thursday's Tokyo High Court decision in a similar suit.

Like the Tokyo court, the Osaka High Court also rejected demands for damages. The plaintiffs in the Osaka suit, some from Taiwan, had demanded compensation from the state, Koizumi and the Shinto shrine for mental anguish caused by the visits. The court said the visits did not harm the plaintiffs' freedom of thought or belief.

Presiding Judge Masaharu Otani said Koizumi "should publicly make clear" if the visits were made in an official or private capacity because the issue has been disputed in the context of the separation of state and religion.