TOKYO, May 26 (Yonhap) -- An appellate court in Tokyo on Friday rejected the request from the bereaved families of Koreans enshrined in a controversial war shrine to have their names removed.
The lawsuit was filed in October 2013 by 27 people who sought the elimination of their relatives' names from Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where they had been listed without the families' consent.
A lower court ruled against the plaintiffs in May 2019, dismissing their claim that the reputation of their deceased families had been defamed.
The Tokyo High Court upheld the ruling, saying there was no infringement on the plaintiffs' legal interests and religious rights through the enshrinement.
The Koreans listed in the shrine were servicemen and civilian employees of the imperial Japanese forces during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Yasukuni Shrine honors millions of Japanese war dead, including 14 convicted Class A war criminals, and is seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan's imperial past.
About 21,000 Koreans, who were forcibly conscripted in the Japanese army and died during World War II, are arbitrarily listed in Yasukuni Shrine.
The families expressed their regret over the court's ruling.
"I was disappointed after losing my father and I am disappointed again after hearing the ruling," plaintiff Park Nam-soon said during a rally in front of the court after the ruling.
"Japan enshrined Koreans together in Yasukuni Shrine without notifying the bereaved families," he said.
Lee Hee-ja, leader of a group supporting the plaintiffs, denounced the ruling as "resembling a criminal act" and vowed to continue with the lawsuit.
Previously, other bereaved families of Koreans listed in Yasukuni Shrine had also lost similar lawsuits they filed in 2001 and 2007.