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U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday urged Japan, China and South Korea to overcome the past to help improve their relations.

Strained relations between Japan and its two neighbors have been exacerbated by such issues as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals are honored as well as the war dead, and how Japan’s history is presented in its school textbooks.

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