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Yasukuni visit is pledge against war, not to hurt Chinese, South Koreans: Japan PM Abe

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves the controversial Yasukuni Shrine after paying tribute to the war dead, near members of the media, in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves the controversial Yasukuni Shrine after paying tribute to the war dead, near members of the media, in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd right) walks behind a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd right) walks behind a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) bows as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) bows as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) bows beside a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) bows beside a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves the controversial Yasukuni Shrine after paying tribute to the war dead, in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves the controversial Yasukuni Shrine after paying tribute to the war dead, in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. Mr Abe said on Thursday his visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was a pledge that Japan would not go to war again a
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Dec 26, 2013. Mr Abe said on Thursday his visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was a pledge that Japan would not go to war again and was not intended to hurt Chinese or South Koreans. --  PHOTO: REUTERS  

TOKYO (AFP) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday his visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was a pledge that Japan would not go to war again and was not intended to hurt Chinese or South Koreans.

"I chose this day to report (to enshrined spirits) what we have done in the year since the administration was launched and to pledge and determine that never again will people suffer in war," he told reporters at the shrine.

"I am aware that, because of misunderstandings, some people criticise a visit to Yasukuni shrine as an act of worshipping war criminals, but I made my visit to pledge to create an era where people will never suffer from catastrophe in war," Mr Abe said.

"I have no intention at all to hurt the feelings of Chinese or South Korean people."

A Chinese foreign ministry official condemned his visit as "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people".