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Biden asked Abe not to visit Yasukuni war shrine, says report

Published on Jan 29, 2014 1:20 PM
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bowing beside a Shinto priest as he visits the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on December 26, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - US Vice President Joe Biden spent an hour trying to persuade Japan's prime minister not to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, two weeks before a pilgrimage that sparked fury in Asia, a report said on Wednesday.

In a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on December 12, Mr Biden repeatedly urged the Japanese premier to stay away from the shrine, Kyodo News said, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.

Yasukuni is a memorial to around 2.5 million war dead, but is controversial because those commemorated include a number of senior figures condemned to death at the end of World War II for their role in directing the conflict.

"I will decide by myself whether I will go," Mr Abe reportedly responded, during what Kyodo said was a "tense" conversation with the US vice president.

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