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Japan LDP calls for continued Shrine visits
Updated: 2006-01-18 21:14

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party adopted Wednesday a policy guideline for 2006, calling on party members to continue the visits to the Yasukuni Shrine -- a practice which has soured Japan's relations with neighboring countries.

Japan LDP calls for continued Shrine visits
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (C) delivers a speech during the annual convention of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Tokyo, Jan. 18, 2006. The LDP held its 73th convention in Tokyo on Jan. 18. [Xinhua]

The document adopted at the party's annual convention here also reiterated the resolution to upgrade Japan's Defense Agency, which is a sensitive issue in the country with a pacifist constitution.

The guideline said that keeping the practice alive is to "show condolences to the dead that laid foundation of the countries and to demonstrate the resolution of not engaging war and realizing perpetual peace."

Enshrining 14 Class-A war criminals, the shrine is regarded by Asian countries as a site of glorifying the militarism.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who is also the DPJ leader, has paid five annual visits to the shrine, and his potential party leadership successors also embraces the practice.

The DPJ is set to hold the election for new president in September to succeed Koizumi who has vowed to step down from the premiership at the same time.

Regarding the voting, the party said in the guideline that it will make efforts to stir up the public interest.

The guideline said the race is "a matter of utmost national concern," and the party "should generate the public's sense of participation through the form of lively policy debate."

It also sought to use its presidential election to help boost its membership and lead the party to victory in major electoral contests in 2007 -- a cluster of simultaneous local elections in the spring and a House of Councillors contest in the summer.

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