Court rules Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine is unconstitutional

The Fukuoka District Court on April 7 ruled for the first time that Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's visit to Yasukuni Shrine is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of the state and religion.

The judge stated that Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni on August 13 in 2001 was "in his capacity as prime minister and thus violated Article 20 of the Constitution which prohibits the state from participating in religious activities."

It also pointed out that his four visits to Yasukuni Shrine which honors Class-A war criminals were politically premeditated.

However, the judge rejected the plaintiffs' demand that the government pay them 100,000 each in compensation for their "psychological damage" caused by the shrine visit.

This lawsuit was filed by 211 citizens, including relatives of war dead and religious leaders. Plaintiff Gunjima Tsuneaki (Buddhist Jodo Shinshu Honganji Sect priest) said, "Although our compensation request was denied, we achieved a tremendous victory."

The government is not allowed to appeal to a higher court because the plaintiffs' claim for damages was rejected. (end)

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