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Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005

Ban urges Koizumi to end visits to Yasukuni


Staff writer

South Korea's foreign affairs and trade minister on Friday urged Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi not to visit contentious Yasukuni Shrine again, according to a Japanese official.

"South Korea does not think (visiting Yasukuni) is desirable considering the future of East Asia and our mutual prosperity," Ban Ki Moon was quoted as saying by the official. "We hope you will not" make another visit.

But Koizumi said he had visited the shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals along with millions of war dead, to mourn those who lost their lives fighting for the country and with the conviction that Japan will never wage war again, the official said.

"Even though there are differences of opinion or position on a particular issue, it is important to continue dialogue and push forward friendly ties between Japan and South Korea," the official quoted Koizumi as saying.

Ban agreed, saying it was important to cooperate with each other on the issue of North Korea's nuclear development and have a successful Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Pusan, South Korea, in November, the official said.

Koizumi also expressed hope he would be able to meet with President Roh Moo Hyun on the sidelines of the APEC meeting. He said he hoped Roh will come to Japan in December as planned, according to the official.

Ban said Seoul would consider Koizumi's request for a summit at APEC in light of the fact that South Korea will host the forum and would check Roh's schedule, according to the official.

It would be very unusual for the host of a multinational meeting not to hold talks with one of the attending leaders, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Ban asked Koizumi how government discussion was proceeding on building a secular war memorial. The prime minister replied that Tokyo would consider the issue, taking public opinion into account, the official said.



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The Japan Times

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