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Japanese court rejects appeal on war shrine
Updated: 2005-07-26 16:41

Japanese and Korean plaintiffs on Tuesday lost an appeal against a rejection of their claim for compensation for stress caused by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to a Shinto war shrine.

The 338 plaintiffs, relatives of war dead and adherents of religions other than Shinto, were appealing a court decision last year that rejected their claims that Koizumi's visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine in 2001 contravened the constitutional requirement to keep state and religion separate.

They had also claimed a nominal 10,000 yen ($90) per person in damages from the government, the prime minister and the shrine, Kyodo news agency reported.

Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld the lower court's rejection of damages, a court official said. The court did not rule on the constitutional question, Kyodo news agency said.

Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni have been a major factor in worsening ties with China and South Korea. Many in both countries see the shrine as a symbol of the militarism behind Japan's often brutal invasion of much of Asia in the early 20th century.

But Koizumi reiterated in parliament on Tuesday that he visited the shrine to pray for the war dead and pledge Japan would not wage war again.

Koizumi has visited the shrine annually since coming to power in 2001, but he has not visited so far this year.

"I will make an appropriate decision," he told parliament when asked about future visits.

Tuesday's verdict was the first high court ruling on any of eight similar cases, Kyodo said.

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