Japanese prime minister to visit Yasukuni shrine

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Yasukuni war shrine Thursday in a move sure to infuriate China and South Korea.

Japanese media reported that Abe will visit the shrine that honors 2.5 million war dead, including convicted class A war criminals, at 11:30 a.m. (0230 GMT).

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The visit comes on the first anniversary of Abe's taking office as prime minister.

It will be the first visit by a sitting prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi visited the shrine to mark the end of World War II in 2006.

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Abe, who has visited previously when he was not prime minister, has expressed extreme regret over his decision not to visit Yasukuni during his first one-year term in office in 2006-2007.

Visits to the shrine by Japanese politicians have long been a point of friction with China and South Korea, because of Japan's brutal aggression during World War II.

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Adding to the unease of Japan's neighbors is Abe's support for revising Japan's pacifist constitution and expanding the military to counter rising tensions over a cluster of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Japan and China.