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Japan court dismisses war shrine lawsuit against PM

[JURIST] A Tokyo court dismissed a lawsuit against Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official website, English version] Thursday that claimed his visits to a Shinto war shrine violated Japan's constitutional separation of religion and state. The court denied the plaintiffs' requests for 3.9 million yen ($34,433) in compensation and ruled that Koizumi's visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine [official website, English version] were private acts. China and South Korea, both victims of Japan during times of war, have spoken out against Koizumi's visits because the countries believe that the shrine is a symbol of Japan's past militarism, honoring Japan's military war dead and World War II war criminals. The plaintiffs in the case were appealing a decision earlier this year by a Japanese lower court, which rejected their petition to stop Koizumi from visiting the shrine [JURIST report]. Koizumi has defended his decision to make visits to the shrine, saying he goes to pray for peace and to honor those who died in war. Reuters has more.

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