Polls: Japanese oppose shrine trip
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- More than half of Japanese don't want their next prime minister to visit a Tokyo war shrine at the center of a diplomatic row with China, according to two newspaper polls published Monday.
A survey in the Mainichi newspaper showed 54 percent of 1,065 respondents felt that whoever replaces Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi -- who is set to step down in September -- should not visit Yasukuni Shrine. Another 33 percent supported the visits, while the remaining 17 percent were undecided, the July 22-23 poll found.
China and other Asian countries say Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including 14 convicted World War II war criminals, glorifies Japan's militarist past.
Opposition to the shrine visits has increased since the newspaper's last survey on the issue in January, Mainichi said.
Koizumi is widely expected to make a final visit to Yasukuni as prime minister on August 15, and a majority of respondents were also opposed to that, Mainichi said.
The newspaper attributed the rise in opposition to Japan's prolonged diplomatic row with China and South
Korea, as well as to a recent report indicating former Emperor Hirohito did not want war criminals included in the shrine.
Hirohito, under whose name Japan fought World War II, visited the shrine eight times before 1975. The palace never clarified why he stopped visiting the shrine after that, although the 14 convicted war criminals were enshrined at Yasukuni in 1978.
Emperor Akihito has not visited Yasukuni since succeeding Hirohito in 1989.
According to the Mainichi poll, 63 percent want the war criminals' names removed from the shrine, while 23 percent said no change is necessary.
A separate survey conducted by the Nihon Keizai business newspaper showed similar results, with 53 percent opposing the prime minister's war shrine visits, 28 percent supporting them and 19 percent undecided.
The Nihon Keizai survey was conducted July 21-23 through telephone interviews of 966 respondents.
Neither Mainichi nor Nihon Keizai provided a margin of error.