Japan ministers plan Yasukuni war shrine visit
TOKYO (AFP) - Two Japanese cabinet ministers said on Friday they were planning to visit Tokyo's controversial war shrine next week, in a move likely to inflame sometimes testy relations with neighbouring countries.
The proposed visits would be the first by ministers in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan since it came to power in 2009, and contravene the wishes of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who, like his two predecessors, has asked his cabinet to stay away.
Land and transport minister Yuichiro Hata told reporters he intended to go to Yasukuni, which many believe is the repository of the souls of 2.5 million dead - including 14 leading war criminals - and is often seen as a symbol of Japan's past aggression.
"I am thinking of visiting in a private capacity, as I've been visiting the Yasukuni shrine since childhood with my father and kept visiting after I became a member of parliament," Mr Hata said, asked about a visit on the Aug 15 anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender.