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    Japan's Abe Visits Controversial War Shrine

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a controversial visit to a war shrine that many of Japan's neighbors see as a symbol of its militaristic past.

    Mr. Abe said his early Thursday visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine was not meant to hurt the feelings of Japan's neighbors, but is a pledge that Tokyo will not go to war again.

    But the move is likely to prompt outrage in China and South Korea, which were among the main victims of Japan's imperialist era and see such visits as signs it is unrepentant.

    Yasukuni honors Japan's nearly 2.5 million war dead, including 14 convicted World War II war criminals. Japanese leaders regularly visit the Tokyo facility. But this will be the first time since 2006 that a sitting prime minister has done so.



    Mr. Abe, who is known for his hawkish views, has sent ritual offerings to the shrine. He also has said he regrets not visiting during his first term as prime minister, which ended in 2007.

    His visit comes exactly one year after he ascended to Japan's top political post. It also came on the sensitive 120th anniversary of the birthday of China's founding leader, Mao Zedong.

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