French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has led a delegation of far-right European politicians to Japan. The group have visited a controversial Japanese shrine, which critics say honors war criminals.
Le Pen (center) is among delegates from eight countries visiting Japan
European right-wing politicians, including the French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, have visited a controversial war shrine in Tokyo, ahead of the anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender.
The delegation paid homage at Yasukuni, a shrine in central Tokyo honoring the 2.5 million Japanese war dead. The shrine includes honors to 14 top war criminals from World War II and has often been regarded as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression.
Remembrance services are held on August 15 for the World War II dead
"It doesn't bother me to honor veteran soldiers of a former enemy," Le Pen said. The 82-year-old is set to 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 US nuclear attacks on the two cities on August 6 and 9.
Far-right politicians from eight European parties are in the delegation, which also includes Adam Walker, the British National Party's number two, and representatives from Austria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Belgium.
The European politicians' visit was arranged by the International Conference of Patriotic Organisations, and at the invitation of the Issuikai, a Japanese ultranationalist group.
Author: Catherine Bolsover (AP/AFP)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar