Ninety-six Diet members from various parties jointly paid a visit Friday to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where 14 Class-A war criminals are honored as well as more than 2 million Japanese war dead, as the shrine launched this year’s three-day spring rites.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose yearly visits to the Shinto shrine since taking office in 2001 have been a constant source of friction with China and South Korea, dodged questions about whether he plans to visit it this year.

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