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PM Abe likely to visit Yasukuni Shrine by year-end: LDP aide.

TOKYO, Oct. 20 Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to visit the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine by year-end, an aide in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Sunday.

"The prime minister has repeated that there is no change in his feeling about the shrine," said Koichi Hagiuda, a House of Representatives member who is serving as special aide to Abe in the latter's role as LDP chief.

Hagiuda told reporters he thinks Abe will visit the shrine within one year from the launch of his current government late last year. "Some people say he should visit the shrine sometime while he is prime minister, but a visit to the shrine should be made at least once a year," he said.

The shrine is seen by some countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism as it honors Class-A war criminals along with Japan's war dead. Past visits by prime ministers and Cabinet members to Yasukuni have angered China and South Korea, both of which suffered Japan's wartime aggression.

Abe decided not to visit the shrine during its four-day annual autumn festival through Sunday, and only offered a "masakaki" tree, traditionally used in Shinto rituals, to the shrine on Thursday.

But Abe told reporters on Saturday, "I said in the past that it was extremely regrettable I could not visit the shrine during my previous stint (as prime minister), and I still have the same feeling."

Among members of the Abe Cabinet, Keiji Furuya, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and state minister in charge of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals, visited the shrine on Sunday, after Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo did so on Friday.

Health minister Norihisa Tamura also paid out of his own pocket for an offering Thursday without appearing in person.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Oct 21, 2013
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