European right-wing groups meet in Tokyo

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European right-wing parties met in Tokyo Thursday at the invitation of a group that denies Japan's World War II atrocities, ahead of the anniversary of the country's surrender.

At the invitation of Japan's Issui-kai movement, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front, and Adam Walker, the British National Party's number two, convened to discuss the future of nationalist groups.

Representatives from Austria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Belgium also took part in the two-day congress which was held at an upscale hotel on the former estate of Meiji-era (1868-1912) statesman Prince Aritomo Yamagata.

The delegates will visit the controversial Yasukuni war shrine on Saturday, one day ahead of the 65th anniversary of Japan's WWII surrender on August 15.

The shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 top war criminals from World War II, has often been a flashpoint in Japan's relations with China and South Korea.

"We have no complex whatsoever. It doesn't bother me to honour veteran soldiers of a former enemy," said 82-year-old Le Pen, who will retire in January 2011 after the party elects his successor.

"If we talk about war criminals, aren't those who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki also war criminals," he asked, referring to the United States which dropped atomic bombs on the two cities on August 6 and 9, hastening Japan's surrender.

"The war criminal does not belong exclusively to the defeated. They are also among the victors."

Issui-kai, or the "Wednesday Society," was formed in the 1970s by fans of novelist Yukio Mishima, who committed suicide after failing to inspire Japan's Self-Defence Forces to a coup d'etat that would restore the powers of the emperor.

The movement's head, Mitsuhiro Kimura, doubts the Japanese army's killing of Chinese civilians in the 1937 Nanking Massacre ran into hundreds of thousands, and denies the sexual slavery of "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers.

He seeks to strengthen links with international right-wing groups to counter what he describes as the threat of a low birthrate in advanced nations, which raises the necessity for large-scale immigration.

© 2010 AFP

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