Japan PM Defies China, S.Korea with War Shrine Visit

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Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid his respects at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine for war dead on Tuesday, the anniversary of his country's World War Two surrender, defying warnings from China and South Korea not to go.

The parting shot by the outgoing Japanese leader prompted angry protests from Beijing and Seoul.

Koizumi is set to step down in September, and China in particular appears to be counting on his heir apparent, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, to help repair ties.

On Tuesday, Abe, 51 -- a security hawk who has visited Yasukuni himself in the past -- called for dialogue, but declined to say whether he would go there if he became premier.

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