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Japan court dismisses South Korean lawsuit over war shrine

[JURIST] A Tokyo District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by South Korean families seeking damages for affronting the dignity of South Korean soldiers by recording their names in the Yasukuni Shrine [official website; BBC backgrounder], which commemorates the 2.5 million casualties of Japanese conflicts since 1869. The soldiers, whom Japan drafted while Korea was a Japanese colony, were enshrined after the government released the names of those wounded and killed during World War II. More than 400 descendants of the South Korean soldiers sued the Japanese government to revoke the governmental notification of the death toll. The plaintiffs demanded a combined 4.4 billion yen (about $39 million US) in damages. In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge said the notification was a standard administrative procedure that did not harm the plaintiffs or violate their ethnic or religious dignity. Moreover, the postwar Japanese-South Korean treaties release Japan from all obligations to individual South Korean citizens for injuries arising out of World War II.

Other names recorded at the shrine include those of 14 Class A war criminals, the most infamous of whom is Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo [Wikipedia profile]. Annual visits to the shrine by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official website] have prompted condemnation [JURIST report] from China and South Korea. Mainichi News has local coverage. BBC News has additional coverage.

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