• The Associated Press

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday that he should keep his 2001 campaign pledge to visit Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, despite opposition in Asia and at home.

The statement, made to reporters in Nagasaki, was the strongest sign yet that Koizumi would defy critics in China and South Korea next week and make a trip to the Shinto shrine, which honors 2.5 million war dead as well as Class-A war criminals.

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