Asia-Pacific

Le Pen among Euro rightists in Japan WWII shrine visit

Jean-Marie Le Pen at Yasukuni shrine - 14 August 2010
Image caption Mr Le Pen said he had no hesitation about visiting Yasukuni

A group of far-right politicians from Europe has visited a shrine which honours Japan's war dead, including convicted World War II war criminals.

The politicians, including France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, were invited to Japan by a local far-right group.

Their visit comes on the eve of the 65th anniversary of Japan's surrender.

Visits to Yasukuni shrine, particularly by Japanese leaders, anger other Asian nations who say the memorial glorifies Japan's imperial past.

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says Prime Minister Naoto Kan has already made it clear that he will not be going there during his time in office.

'Heroes'

Mr Le Pen was joined at the shrine by Adam Walker, a prominent member of the British National Party, and other far-right politicians from countries including Austria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Belgium.

"What counts is the will that we had to honour those who have fallen for defending their country, whether they are Japanese, or any soldiers of the world, we have the same respect for them," he told reporters.

When asked about the visit earlier, the 82-year-old earlier responded: "If we talk about war criminals, aren't those who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki also war criminals?"

Mr Walker said he was there to honour "heroes that have died for their country".

The politicians were invited to Tokyo by the nationalist group Issui-kai, which has denied Japan's war-time atrocities.

They have held two days of talks at a Tokyo hotel on how to co-operate to further their nationalist aims.

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