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Nearly 150 Japanese lawmakers visit controversial war shrine

Published on Apr 22, 2014 8:38 AM

TOKYO (AFP) - A group of nearly 150 Japanese lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine on Tuesday, a move that could further worsen ties with Asian neighbours, on the eve of US President Barack Obama's arrival.

A total of 146 lawmakers from both houses of parliament made the trip en masse to the shrine to mark a three-day spring festival currently under way, according to one lawmaker who was acting as a spokesman for the group.

Yasukuni Shrine honours Japan's war dead, including some senior military and political figures convicted of serious crimes in the wake of the country's World War II defeat.

That, and the accompanying museum - which paints Japan as a frustrated liberator of Asia and victim of World War II - makes it controversial, especially in China and South Korea, where it is seen as a symbol of Japan's lack of penitence.

Japanese lawmakers following a Shinto priest (right) during a visit to the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on April 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
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