European right-wing politicians visit Tokyo's war shrine
European right-wing politicians, including French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, visited a controversial war shrine in Tokyo on Saturday ahead of the anniversary of Japan's surrender.
The delegation paid homage at Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo and joined a Shinto ritual at the shrine's main sanctuary, as part of a series of events in Japan.
The shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 top war criminals from World War II, has often been regarded as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression.
A number of Japanese, including war veterans, politicians and families of those who dies in the war are set to visit the shrine on Sunday, the 65th anniversary of Japan's WWII surrender.
"It doesn't bother me to honour veteran soldiers of a former enemy," 82-year old Le Pen, who will retire in January 2011 after the party elects his successor, said Thursday.
"If we talk about war criminals, aren't those who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki also war criminals?" he asked, referring to the US nuclear attacks on the two cities on August 6 and 9.
The European politicians arrived in Tokyo earlier this week at the invitation of Japan's Issui-kai movement, which organised a two-day conference to discuss the future of nationalist groups.
Among other participants were Adam Walker, the British National Party's number two, and other representatives from far-right parties of Austria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Belgium.
© 2010 AFP