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Okinawa group sues prime minister over shrine visits

Date Posted: 2002-10-04

The Okinawa War Survivors’ Association has decided to file a lawsuit against Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for his two visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Koizumi paid homage to Japanese war dead whose souls are interred in the shrine in Aug. 2001 and Apr. 2002.

The 81 members of the association say that Koizumi’s visit caused them grave shock and was morally wrong and against the law. The association is seeking ¥8.1 million in damages.

Members decided to take the legal action after the association met in Ginowan City Hall. The group leaders contend that the court battle won’t be easy. “It will take a long time before this suit gets through the courts, but we will never give up until we win our case,” Association Chairman Minoru Kinjo wows.

To do their battle, the association has the backing of eleven lawyers from Okinawa and another three from Osaka.

Okinawa War Survivors’ Association is not the only group that is taking the prime minister to the court over the visits. Similar groups in Tokyo, Chiba, Matsuyama and Fukuoka have already brought similar lawsuits.

Still, the Okinawan association sees that the state has a special debt to pay to Okinawa. “Okinawa has a special place in Japanese history. We have been always asked to sacrifice. We have always been discriminated against, we have been forbidden to speak our own language even, all because of the state of Japan. This has never gone away from our hearts, and it’s about time that the state rights it old wrongs,” Kinjo says.

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