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2ND LD: Major Japan business lobby urges Koizumi not to visit Yasukuni.

TOKYO, May 9 Kyodo


The Japan Association of Corporate Executives, in a written proposal released Tuesday, urged Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi not to visit the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine.

Koizumi, however, indicated his rejection of the suggestion and maintained that he will ''make a decision appropriately'' on whether to visit the Shinto shrine this year on the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of World War II.

''Many business leaders have said, 'Don't go there for the sake of business,' but I've clearly declined, saying, 'that matter and politics are different,'' Koizumi told reporters at his official residence.

The group, also known as Keizai Doyukai, is the first major Japanese business lobby to release such a proposal.

In the proposal aimed at improving Sino-Japanese relations, Keizai Doyukai stressed the need for the two countries to resume talks between their leaders, which China has refused since Koizumi's most recent visit to Yasukuni in October last year.

The Tokyo shrine enshrines Class-A war criminals along with the war dead.

While Koizumi maintains that his visits to Yasukuni represent ''a pledge not to fight a war again,'' Keizai Doyukai said the visit should be ''reconsidered'' as there is no national ''consensus'' on whether the shrine is an appropriate venue for making such a pledge.

The business group then proposed that a national, nonreligious memorial should be established to console the souls of war victims and make a war-renouncing pledge.

At a press conference, Keizai Doyukai Chairman Kakutaro Kitashiro called on Koizumi's successor to refrain from visiting the shrine, saying that visits by a Japanese leader are ''undesirable on a medium- and long-term basis.''

The proposal by Keizai Doyukai also includes the establishment of a forum for the study of history by experts from Japan, China and other countries.

Keizai Doyukai will present the proposal to both the Japanese and Chinese governments.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said the government will seek understanding for Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni.

The prime minister has given explanations for the visit on various occasions, the top government spokesman said at a press conference. ''It is important to clear up misunderstandings if there are any.''
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:May 15, 2006
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