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Defying repeated warnings from China and South Korea, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday, the 61st anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, paying his respects at the Shinto site that honors the nation’s 2.5 million war dead and 14 Class-A war criminals.

It was Koizumi’s first visit on the emotional date, and his action fueled an immediate backlash from China and South Korea, which see the visits as symbolizing a national lack of repentance for atrocities Japan committed in other parts of Asia.

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