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State Minister Furuya visits Yasukuni Shrine

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Keiji Furuya, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and state minister in charge of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals, visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Sunday.

Furuya is the second member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet to visit the shrine during its four-day annual autumn festival from Thursday. Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo went to the shrine on Friday.

The shrine is seen by some countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism as it honors Class-A war criminals along with Japan's war dead. Past visits by prime ministers and Cabinet members to Yasukuni have angered China and South Korea, both of which suffered Japan's wartime aggression.

"It is only natural for a Japanese" to pay homage at the shrine, Furuya told reporters after the visit. "It is not intended to provoke neighboring countries," he said.

Furuya also visited the shrine during its spring festival in April and on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

Abe himself offered a "masakaki" tree, traditionally used in Shinto rituals, to the shrine on Thursday but did not make a visit in person in an apparent bid to not further aggravate ties with Beijing and Seoul.

Health minister Norihisa Tamura also paid out of his own pocket for an offering Thursday without appearing in person.

On Friday, a cross-party group of 157 lawmakers visited the shrine.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131019/state-minister-furuya-visits-yasukuni-shrine