South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Thursday blasted a Japanese court's rejection of an appeal by a group of South Koreans calling for the removal of Korean names from the list of those enshrined at the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
"In short, a ruling that can never be understood has been delivered in Japan," spokesman Cho Tai Young told a press briefing.
"It's deeply regrettable a ruling has been given that runs contrary to humanity and history," Cho said.
He was reacting to the Tokyo High Court's ruling on Wednesday, in which it upheld a lower court's ruling in July 2011 on grounds that the plaintiffs need to "show tolerance of others' freedom of religion" even though they argue their feelings have been hurt by the enshrinement.
"Enshrining at Yasukuni Shrine those Korean victims forced into labor against their will is enormous encroachment on the honor and dignity of them and their families because the shrine glorifies Japan's imperialistic aggression," Cho said.
The plaintiffs are nine relatives of deceased servicemen and civilian employees who served in the Japanese military during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, and an 88-year-old former civilian employee who is enshrined at the Shinto shrine as a "spirit of war dead" despite being still alive.
Yasukuni enshrined the souls of the 10 Koreans in 1959.
The plaintiffs argued that the enshrinement followed the provision of information on war dead to the shrine by the Japanese government, without their consent and in violation of their personal rights as Koreans.
The shrine is seen by Japan's Asian neighbors as a symbol of its past militarism as it honors war criminals along with Japan's war dead.