[JURIST] A court in Japan [JURIST news archive] has dismissed an appeal by 81 plaintiffs who argued that the visits of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official profile] to a war shrine honoring Japanese dead as well as war criminals from World War II violated the constitutional separation of state and religion. The Fukuoka High Court in Okinawa found it unnecessary to consider the constitutional question, concluding that visits to the Yasukuni war shrine [shrine website] did not harm the plaintiffs or their freedom of religious belief. The appeal came after the Tokyo High Court dismissed the suit on similar grounds [JURIST report] in June.
Koizumi has defended his visits to the shrine [JURIST report] despite protests from South Korea and China, claiming that these governments were trying to turn a spiritual issue into a diplomatic issue. Koizumi's successor, Shinzo Abe [official profile, BBC profile], has supported Koizumi's visits, although it is unclear whether he will continue them. AP has more.