Seoul warns of frayed ties over Japan's Yasukuni visit plans

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea warned Japan Thursday that their bilateral relations will face even more difficulties if Japanese politicians go ahead with their plans to visit the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in October.

"Visits to the Yasukuni shrine by ranking Japanese political leaders will not only jeopardize the South Korea-Japan relations but also cause severe difficulties in the steady development of ties among countries in the region," Cho Tai-young, the spokesman of the South Korean foreign ministry said in a briefing. "I urge them not to pay the visit."

The call came as two cabinet members of the conservative Shinzo Abe administration -- Yoshitaka Shindo and Keiji Furuya -- are reported to be planning a visit to the war shrine during the country's autumnal festival next week.

Japanese leaders' past visits to the Tokyo shrine have inevitably been followed by strong protests from its neighbors, notably South Korea and China, as the war shrine symbolizes Japan's imperial past.

The controversial shrine honors millions of Japanese war dead, including many convicted Class-A war criminals.

The two politicians were among the group of Japanese leaders who paid homage at the controversial shrine on Aug. 15, the day which marks Japan's defeat in World War II.

Following the visit, South Korea issued a statement, expressing strong protest against Japan's nationalistic action.

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