Plunge Pontificates

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Former PM ask Koizumi to NOT visit Yasukuni

The list continues to grow and grow. High ranking, important Japanese feel the visits should end.

Former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said Koizumi should consider what benefits the nation most, rather than sticking to his personal belief, the Kyodo News agency said.

"A decision to stop making a visit would be a respectable decision," the agency quoted Nakasone as saying Friday during a speech in Tokyo.

That isn't all, in fact, that is just the beginning.

On Wednesday, eight former Japanese prime ministers and the speaker of Parliament's powerful lower house met and decided Koizumi should stop the visits in light of the troubles with China, which erupted in April in violent anti-Japan protests in several Chinese cities.

"It cannot be denied that the cause of the sudden chill in relations between Japan with China and South Korea are Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine," House speaker Yohei Kono said, according to an aide in his office speaking on condition of anonymity.

The aide said the leaders agreed that "Prime Minister Koizumi should stop his visits to Yasukuni Shrine," and that Kono was awaiting an opening in Koizumi's schedule to convey the group's concerns.

The extraordinary statement steps up pressure on Koizumi to halt his pilgrimages _ and reflects growing consternation about them from within Koizumi's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its smaller coalition partner, the New Komeito Party.

At his official residence, Kono told ex-prime ministers Yoshiro Mori, Ryutaro Hashimoto, Tomiichi Murayama, Kiichi Miyazawa and Toshiki Kaifu that, as a former foreign minister, he believed the group had an obligation to try and steer Tokyo from policy missteps, the aide said. Murayama was the only non-LDP member.

Former prime ministers Yasuhiro Nakasone, Morihiro Hosokawa and Tsutomu Hata spoke separately with Kono earlier in the day and said they were also "very worried" about the fallout over Koizumi's Yasukuni visits, the aide said.

Also Wednesday, New Komeito Party leader Takenori Kanzaki warned Koizumi that future trips would hurt their parties' ties.

This isn't a small group of unknowns, this is the elite of Japan's government. 8 former PMs. Maybe he should listen?