[JURIST] Eleven South Koreans filed a lawsuit Monday asking the Tokyo District Court to order the removal of their relatives' names from the Yasukuni Shrine [shrine website; JURIST news archive], a controversial memorial which many argue is a symbol of Japan's past as a military-driven nation. The plaintiffs include a former soldier and 10 other South Koreans whose fathers were forced to serve in the Japanese military during World War II. The Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million people who died in Japanese conflicts since 1869, including war criminals and approximately 21,000 Koreans. The plaintiffs are arguing that their relatives' names were included against their wishes and are asking the Japanese government for a public apology and less than $1 each in compensation.
Last year, a Tokyo judge dismissed [JURIST report] a similar lawsuit filed by South Korean families seeking damages for affronting the dignity of South Korean soldiers by recording their names in the shrine. The plaintiffs had demanded a combined 4.4 billion yen (about $39 million US) in damages, but the judge said including the names on the shrine was a standard administrative procedure that did not harm the plaintiffs or violate their ethnic or religious dignity. Plaintiffs in several other lawsuits have argued [JURIST report] that visits to the war shrine by former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official profile] violated the principle of separation of church and state contained in the Japanese constitution [text], but Japanese courts have largely ruled in the former prime minister's favor. AP has more.