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The South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said Friday it is “very regrettable” that Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the front-runner to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, visited Yasukuni Shrine in April.

“To build friendly relations with neighboring countries, it is necessary to look squarely at history and take a common-sense response,” the ministry said, emphasizing that visits to the shrine would become an obstacle to bilateral relations.

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