Yasukuni Jinja

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Torii Gate at Yasukuni Shrine
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The main building of Yasukuni Shrine
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Yasukuni Shrine 75th anniversary Stamp (1944)
Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 Yasukuni Jinja) is a Shinto shrine located in Tokyo, Japan, dedicated to the spirits of soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. In October 2004, its Book of Souls listed the names of 2,466,532 men and women, including 27,863 Taiwanese and 21,181 Koreans, whose lives were dedicated to the service of Imperial Japan, particularly to those killed in wartime.

The shrine is a source of considerable controversy. Included in the Book of Souls are 1,068 people convicted of war crimes by a post World War II court. A total of 12 convicted and 2 suspected Class A war criminals ("crime against peace") are enshrined at Yasukuni. [1] The shrine's history museum contains an account of Japan's actions in World War II, which is considered revisionist by many, including those outside of Japan.

Visits to the shrine by cabinet members, and various Prime Ministers in particular, have been a cause of protest at home and abroad. China, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan have protested against various visits since 1985. Despite the controversy, the former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made annual visits from 2001 to 2006.

History

The Yasukuni Shrine was originally constructed in June 1869 by order of the Meiji Emperor to commemorate the victims of the Boshin War. It was at that time one of several dozen such shrines built throughout Japan. Originally named Tōkyō Shōkonsha (東京招魂社), the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja in 1879 and elevated to become one of the principal shrines associated with State Shinto and the primary national shrine for commemoration of Japan's war dead. The name Yasukuni, a quotation from Zuo Zhuan (a classical-era Chinese text), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor.[1] The shrine has performed Shinto rites to house the kami (spirits) of all Japanese and former colonial subjects (Korean and Taiwanese) and civilians who died in the nation's conflicts until the end of the US occupation of Japan in 1951.

After Japan's defeat in World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive, ordering Yasukuni Shrine to either become a secular government institution, or a religious institution that is independent from the Japanese government. Yasukuni chose the latter. Since that time, Yasukuni Shrine has been privately funded.

Although new names are added to the shrine every year, no new deaths have qualified since Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951. Therefore, the shrine does not include anyone who has died since 1951, including members of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces who have died on duty.

Kami

As a general rule, those enshrined at the shrine are limited to those who died while serving Japan, so general civilian deaths due to war are not included apart from a handful of exceptions.

Those enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine are the following:
  • Military personnel, and civilians employed by the military, who were:
  • killed in action, or died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty outside the Home Islands (and within the Home Islands after Sept 1931)
  • missing and presumed to have died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty
  • died as a result of war crime tribunals which have been ratified by the San Francisco Peace Treaty
  • Civilians who participated in combat under the military and killed by resulting wounds or illnesses (includes residents of Okinawa)
  • Civilians who died, or are presumed to have died, in Soviet labour camps after the war
  • Civilians who were officially mobilized or volunteered (such as factory workers, mobilized students, Japanese Red Cross nurses and anti air-raid volunteers) who were killed while on duty
  • Crew who were killed aboard Merchant Navy vessels
  • Crew who were killed due to the sinking of exchange ships (i.e. Awa Maru)
  • Okinawan schoolchildren evacuees who were killed (i.e. the sinking of Tsushima Maru)
  • Officials of the governing bodies of Karafuto Prefecture, Kwantung Leased Territory, Governor-General of Korea and Governor-General of Taiwan
The following lists the number enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine from each war Japan has participated in since the shrine's founding. In regard to the Boshin War and the South West War, dead from Tokugawa Shogunate (particularly from the Aizu prefecture) and Satsuma province are not enshrined because they are considered enemies of the emperor. This exclusion is deeply resented in both prefectures, and includes the ancestors of current Chief Priest Nambu.

It should be noted that enshrinements are carried out unilaterally by the shrine. Some families, such as those from foreign or Christian backgrounds have requested that their relatives be delisted, but the Yasukuni priesthood has stated that once a kami is enshrined, it has been 'merged' and cannot be separated.

Controversy

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An English-language sign at the shrine describing Roosevelt's strategy and the United States' entry into World War II
The shrine enshrines and, according to Shinto beliefs, provides a permanent residence for the spirits of those who have fought on behalf of the emperor, regardless of whether they died in combat. About 1,000 of the enshrined kami were POWs convicted of some level of war crime after World War II. One sufficient criterion for enshrinement for war dead is that a person should be listed as having died while on duty (including death from illness or disease) in the war dead registry of the Japanese government. In the late 1950s-early 1960s, Tokyo decided to list all those convicted of any class of war crimes to ensure that the remaining family members can receive a pension. On October 17, 1978, 14 accused of Class A war crimes (according to the judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East), including Hideki Tojo, were quietly enshrined as "Martyrs of Shōwa" (昭和殉難者 Shōwa junnansha), ostensibly on the technicality that they were on the registry. They are listed below, according to their sentences: This was revealed to the media on April 19, 1979, and a controversy started in 1985 which continues to this day. For China, North and South Korea, and other nations that were affected by Japanese aggression and intrusion, the shrine is a symbol of Japanese fascism and extreme aggression or the Yusuke. Liberal, socialist and communist groups in Japan also take issue with the shrine for similar reasons.

Yasukuni Shrine also operates a museum of the history of Japan (the Yūshūkan, 遊就館) which some observers have criticized as presenting a revisionist interpretation. A documentary-style video shown to museum visitors portrays Japan's conquest of East Asia during the pre-World War II period as an effort to save the region from the imperial advances of Western powers. Displays portray Japan as a victim of foreign influence, especially Western pressure.

A pamphlet published by the shrine says: "War is a really tragic thing to happen, but it was necessary in order for us to protect the independence of Japan and to prosper together with our Asian neighbors." It also says that Japanese POWs executed for war crimes were "cruelly and unjustly tried" by a "sham-like tribunal of the Allied forces."[2] Their position is based on the WWII-era argument from the Japanese government that the country had never signed the Geneva Convention, and was not a signatory of any enforceable international war crimes agreement. Therefore, in their opinion, the convictions were labels placed upon them by an organization to which they did not belong.

The shrine's English-language website defends Japanese activities prior to and during World War II, by stating: "War is truly sorrowful. Yet to maintain the independence and peace of the nation and for the prosperity of all of Asia, Japan was forced into conflict." [3]

Emperor Hirohito refused to visit Yasukuni upon learning that it named class-A war criminals. His son, Emperor Akihito, has not visited the shrine since rising to the throne. Instead choosing to send a lesser member of the royal household in his stead, to which all Japanese Shinto shrines are entitled.

The political overtones of Yasukuni Shrine are attributed to two major factors. One is the ideology of State Shinto which regarded any wars waged in the name of the emperor as just and anyone who died fighting for the emperor as an eirei (英霊 hero spirit). But another more immediate factor is the influence of various support organizations, especially the Izokukai (遺族会), the largest organization representing the families of war dead from World War II. Though Yasukuni has become something of a mecca for various right-wing and ultra right-wing organizations, their influence on the Yasukuni priesthood is said to be marginal at best. On the other hand, Yasukuni Shrine considers the Izokukai as the de facto lay organization for the Shrine. The Izokukai was formerly known as the Izoku Kōsei Renmei (遺族厚生連盟 War-Dead-Family Welfare Union), established in 1947. The original purpose of the Izoku Kōsei Renmei was stated as follows: "With a view to pursuing the end of warfare, establishing global peace and world prosperity and contributing to the welfare of the humanity, we seek to provide relief and assistance to the families of those who died in the (Asia Pacific) war ". As can be seen, the main purpose of the organization was to provide assistance to the widows, orphans and aging parents of those who died in the Asia Pacific War as well as lobbying the government in the interests of the family. However, in 1953 the organization became a trust foundation and changed its name to the current Izokukai. More importantly, the main purpose of the organization was changed to, "In pursuit of the establishiment of a peaceful Japan, the cultivation of character, and the promotion of morality, we seek to praise eirei, to promote the welfare of the families of the war dead, and to seek recognition and compensation for civilian auxiliary units." The change, which included the elimination of international pacifism and insertion of a reference to eirei is regarded as giving a nationalist slant to the character of the organization. Chairmen of the organization have usually been members of the governing Liberal Democratic party and the organization is regarded as the informal pipeline between the LDP (hence the government) and the Yasukuni Shrine. In 1962 Okinori Kaya, a known LDP hawk and a convicted class A criminal in the Tokyo Trials was appointed chairman. The organization is regarded as having strong influence over the political overtones of the Yasukuni Shrine.

According to documents released on 28 March 2007 by the National Diet Library of Japan, Health and Welfare Ministry officials and Yasukuni representatives agreed during a meeting, on 31 January 1969, that Class-A war criminals judged at the Tokyo Trial were "able to be honored" and decided not to make public the idea that Yasukuni would enshrine those criminals.[2]

Political impact

The controversial nature of the shrine has figured largely in both domestic Japanese politics and relations with other Asian countries. The controversy has been reignited nearly every year since 1975, when prime minister Miki Takeo visited the shrine as a private individual on August 15, the day that Japan commemorates the end of World War II. The next year, his successor Fukuda Takeo visited as a private individual yet signed the visitors' book as prime minister. Several other Japanese prime ministers have visited the shrine since 1979: Masayoshi Ohira in 1979; Zenko Suzuki in 1980, 1981 and 1982; Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1983 and 1985 (on the latter occasion, he offered flowers which had been paid-for with government money.); Kiichi Miyazawa in 1992, this visit was kept secret until 1996 (he had paid a visit in 1980 before becoming Prime Minister); Ryutaro Hashimoto in 1996; and Junichiro Koizumi, who has visited six times to date (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006). Visits by Japanese prime ministers to the shrine have resulted in official condemnation by neighboring countries since 1985, as they see it as an attempt to legitimize Japan's past militarism.

Visits to the shrine are also controversial in the domestic debate over the proper role of religion in Japanese government. Some Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians insist that visits are protected by the constitutional right to freedom of religion and that it is appropriate for legislators to pay their respects to those fallen in war. However, proposals for the construction of a secular memorial so that those wishing to honor Japan's military dead do not have to visit Yasukuni have thus far failed, ostensibly for technical details rather than the rejection of a secular memorial. The Japanese government conducts yearly memorial services to commemorate the War in Budokan (a secular building) which is near Yasukuni shrine so that the attendees can later visit Yasukuni Shrine privately if they so wish. The shrine itself objects to any proposal that a non-religious memorial be built, stating that "Yasukuni Shrine must be the one and only memorial for Japan's military dead." Koizumi has claimed that his visits are to ensure that there will be no further wars involving Japan, causing some to interpret them as an act of remembrance rather than reverence.

On his first visit to Japan since leaving office in February 2003, former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung openly criticized Japanese politicians' visits to the shrine, and proposed that the 14 Class A war criminals be moved to a different location. He said, "If that option is realized, I will not express opposition to visits to Yasukuni Shrine (by Koizumi or other Japanese leaders)". Kim noted that Koizumi promised at a meeting in Shanghai in 2001 to consider building a new memorial facility that could replace Yasukuni Shrine and enable anyone to worship there without hesitation.

The government of the People's Republic of China has been the most vocal critic of the shrine and some Japanese observers have suggested that the issue of Yasukuni Shrine is just as heavily tied to China's internal politics as it is to the historical conduct of Japan's military and the perceived degree of its remorse for its actions. They state that tolerance on the part of Communist Party of China authorities for large-scale public protests in mainland China against the shrine contrasts strongly with the authority exercised against any kind of domestic political dissent. This has been interpreted as an effort by the party to channel public frustrations away from their rule, and preserve their legitimacy by aligning themselves with popular nationalist sentiments. Many have commented on the cultural difference between Chinese and Japanese cultures. Shinto views one's crimes absolved after enshrinement.

Debate in Japan

Political visits to the shrine and the views expressed by foreign nations has met with various degrees of controversy domestically, with the population of Japan itself having different views.

Every kami in Yasukuni is termed an eirei, which some suggest glorifies not only the dead but the various conflicts themselves. The Yasukuni's explanation of the enshrinment of Class A war criminals is technical. They cite the fact that their names are all listed in official Ministry of Health list of war casualties which was compiled for the purpose of pension for family of war dead. However, the Yasukuni specifically excluded class A criminals from the enshrinement when the list was initially compiled. This decision was later reversed. It is often understood that the main reason for the enshrinement is Yasukuni and the right's political stance that Tokyo War Crime Tribunal is illegitimate and illegal under the international law, and therefore, there is no reason for those who are convicted to be excluded from enshrinement.

One commonly voiced argument is that visits to the shrine by the Prime Minister or Emperor are an internal political matter in which China and Korea have no right to interfere. Another line of argument points out the controversy is perhaps in part due to a misunderstanding of the religion. Shinto does not contain the concept of karma or heaven and hell seen in other religions. Though certain kami who die with unavenged grievances could become vengeful kami and require enshrinement to placate them, the process of enshrinement is noted for purging the spirits of all evil or wrongdoing. Some suggest, though, that since Yasukuni was once part of a state-run religion, it is a symbol of government policy and that a religious argument should not apply. They also point out that Yasukuni Shrine does not merely house kami, but since it also has a nearby museum, it could be interpreted as praising their actions while alive. Souvenirs like items used during wartime, including wartime flags, can also be purchased at the museum gift shop immediately adjacent to the shrine.

Another controversy is the constitutionality of visits by the Prime Minister. In the Japanese Constitution, the separation of state and religion is explicit, unlike the U.S. counterpart which is somewhat implicit . Because the clause was written for the express purpose of preventing the return of State Shintoism, many question the constitutionality of the Prime Minister visiting Yasukuni Shrine. Often the first question Japanese Prime Ministers are asked by journalists after a visit is, "Are you here as a private person or as Prime Minister?" In addition, whether the Prime Minister has signed the visitors' book indicating the position of signator as shijin (私人 private person) or shushō (首相 Prime Minister) is diligently reported. All Prime Ministers have so far stated that their visit was private. However, although some leave the signature section blank or sign it as shijin, others sign it as shushō. The issue is somewhat different than that of visits by the German Chancellor to the Holocaust Memorial, which are explicitly made in the context of a state visit. Prime Minister Koizumi recently gave a somewhat cryptic answer, stating that he visited the shrine as Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan. Some consider such statement as a move towards making visits somewhat official; others consider that it is pointing out that the whole issue of shijin vs shushō is somewhat meaningless. Some journals and news reports, such as one made by Kyodo News Agency on August 15, 2006, question whether in the case of Koizumi's visits, which are consistently claimed by Koizumi to be private, can be considered individual in nature when they are part of a campaign pledge, which in nature is political. Currently, most of the Japanese public and most jurists have agreed that there have as of yet been no constitutional violations.

The views expressed by Yasukuni Shrine through its museum and website and also controversial. Both sites make it clear that Yasukuni Shrine does not regard the conduct of Japan during the World War II as an act of aggression but rather matter of self defence and a heroic effort to repel European Imperialism. Defenders of (private) visits by the Prime Minister point out that, regardless, there is no other venue to pay respect to the fallen in Japan, so that Prime Minister as well as the large number of Japanese who visit the shrine have no choice. Moreover, most people (including the Prime Minister) who visit Yasukuni deliberately avoid entering the museum so that the visit remains religious rather than political.

A number of proposals have been made to alleviate controversy. One is to somehow "remove" the controversial spirits and place them in a different location so that visits to Yasukuni Shrine would not be as politically charged. This proposal has been strongly pushed by China and Korea. The Japanese government cannot force Yasukuni Shrine to do so (due to the separation of church and state). Moreover, the shrine is adamant that once a kami has been housed at the shrine, it cannot be separated. The one method which is suggested as theologically valid is to abolish the entire enshrinement, then repeat the entire enshrinement rite of kami since the Boshin War without including the A class war criminals. Some argue that selective abolishment of enshrinement is technically possible, as there are several precedents of selective de-enshrinement in the Tokugawa era.

Another proposal is to create a separate secular memorial where the prime minister can make official state visits for memorial purposes. Critics point out that groups representing families of the war dead express no interest in such a memorial, preferring Yasukuni Shrine. Furthermore, the Japanese government already conducts yearly secular commemoration services at the Budokan for the families of soldiers killed in World War II. Afterwards, these families usually make private visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which is located within walking distance. Since the proposed memorial site is geographically distant, were the ceremony to be relocated to the proposed memorial site such visits would be made more difficult. A number of families of the names listed at the shrine have indicated that the controversy is disturbing the peaceful rest of their dead family members and that they wish to pay homage to them without controversy and media attention.

There is in fact a memorial to the Japanese war dead within walking distance of Yasukuni, called Chidorigafuchi Senbotsusha Boen (千鳥ヶ淵戦没者墓苑). This could be used as an alternative by Japanese politicians to pay their respects to those who died during the war.

Some argue that no spirit should be separated because it would amount to condemnation, running counter to the theology of Shintoism which purges the spirits of evil/sin at time of housing.

Recent events

The shrine announced that its official website has been under a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack from a Chinese domain since September 2004. Therefore, users may find it difficult to access the website.

In May 2005, in the aftermath of anti-Japanese protests over the Japanese history textbooks controversy, Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi cut short her visit to Japan and flew home before a planned meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. This was widely interpreted as a reaction to a statement by Koizumi the day before Wu's arrival that foreign countries should not interfere in Japan's domestic affairs, including the Yasukuni issue. Wu's visit was meant to improve strained relations between the two countries following the textbook controversy, and she had planned to ask Koizumi to stop his visits to the shrine.

In June 2005, a senior LDP member proposed moving the 14 Class A war criminals to a separate site. Shinto priests refused this proposal, quoting Japan's freedom of religion laws under the Japanese Constitution.

Also in the same month, a group of Taiwanese aborigines led by aboriginal politician Kao-Chin Su-mei attempted to visit Yasukuni Shrine with the help of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace. They represented nine tribes from Taiwan whose ancestors are enshrined at Yasukuni and their intention was to peacefully request the removal of their relatives from the shrine, and to pray for the return of their ancestors' souls. Request to perform religious rites within the Yasukuni property were refused and they were blocked from entering Yasukuni by Japanese protesters and police. A demonstration was organized by a group of more than one hundred Japanese nationalists to block them from the shrine and prevent them from performing spirit-calling religious rituals within the property the Shrine objected. Japanese police allowed the protesters to remain on the grounds because their entrance to the shrine was not objected by the shrine however they blocked the Taiwanese from leaving their buses, citing measures to prevent clashes between the two groups. After about an hour and a half, the Taiwanese group gave up their attempt. Su-mei and her group reportedly received death threats related to their visit, prompting the Taiwanese government to request Japanese authorities ensure her safety while in Japan. [4]

On June 27, 2005, the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, told Kyodo News, "If the prime minister does not pay a visit to Yasukuni Shrine this year, I think Japan would go rotten from the inside and collapse."

On October 12, 2005, Yasukuni Shrine returned the Bukgwan Victory Monument to South Korean authorities. The monument was erected in 1707 to commemorate Korean victory over Japanese forces in the Seven-Year War. It was subsequently moved to the shrine by Japan following the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 over Korea. South Korea returned it to North Korea in early 2006.

On October 17, 2005, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the shrine for the fifth time since taking office. Although Koizumi claimed that his visit was a private affair, officials in the People's Republic of China responded by canceling a scheduled visit to China by Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura in protest. [5]

On October 28, 2005, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) agreed to set up a cross-party "group for pushing forward the establishment of a national memorial facility" to bring about the foundation of a secular war memorial dedicated only to "ordinary" soldiers. This would replace Yasukuni Shrine as the home of Japan's war dead. The group was set to meet for the first time on November 9, 2005.

On 15 November 2005, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing stirred controversy during the APEC summit in Busan, South Korea by rhetorically asking: "What would European people think if German leaders were to visit (memorials) related to Hitler and Nazis?" [6]

On 16 May 2006, Henry Hyde, the Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations sent a letter to Koizumi expressing his "concerns about the efficacy of an invitation to the Japanese prime minister who continues to make controversial visits to the Yasukuni shrine." [7]. Hyde's letter underscored the offensive nature a shrine visit was to Americans who remember World War Two and Hyde didn't want to "dishonor the site in Congress where President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his "day of infamy" speech after the December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." [8].

On 20 July 2006, Nihon Keizai Shimbun front-paged an article about the discovery of a memorandum detailing the reason Emperor Hirohito stopped visiting Yasukuni. The memorandum, kept by former chief of Imperial Household Agency Tomohiko Tomita, confirms for the first time the enshrinement of the 14 Class A War Criminals was the reason. Tomita wrote down the contents of his conversations with the emperor in his diaries and notebooks in detail. He left 12 diaries (1975-1986) and some 20 notebooks (1986-1997). According to the memorandum, the emperor expressed his strong displeasure in 1988 at the decision made by Yasukuni Shrine to include Class A war criminals in the list of war dead honored there by saying, "At some point, Class-A criminals became enshrined, including Matsuoka and Shiratori. I heard Tsukuba acted cautiously," Tsukuba is believed to refer to Fujimaro Tsukuba, the former chief Yasukuni priest at the time, who decided not to enshrine the war criminals despite receiving in 1966, the list of war dead compiled by the government containing their names. "What's on the mind of Matsudaira's son, who is the current head priest?". "Matsudaira had a strong wish for peace, but the child didn't know the parent's heart. That's why I have not visited the shrine since. This is my heart," Matsudaira is believed to refer to Yoshitami Matsudaira, who was the grand steward of Imperial Household immediately after the end of World War II. His son, Nagayoshi, succeeded Fujimaro Tukuba as the chief priest of Yasukuni and he decided to enshrine the war criminals in 1978. [9] Nagayoshi Matsudaira passed away a year ago, which is speculated as a reason for the release of the memo.

For journalist Masanori Yamaguchi, who analyzed the "memo" and comments made by the emperor in his first-ever press conference in 1975, his evasive and opaque attitude about his own responsibility for the war and the fact he said that the bombing of Hiroshima "could not be helped" [3] , could mean that he was afraid that the enshrinement would reignite the debate over his own responsibility for the war.[4]

Another commentator stated that there are three immediate impacts of the memo. [10] Firstly, the explanation of the suspension of the imperial visit offered by the right is no longer sustainable. Those on the right of Japanese politics had attributed the reason for the emperor's suspension of visits to the emergence of controversy over constitutional validity of the visit by the prime minister or the emperor in regard to the separation of state and religion. This claim is no longer valid in the light of the revelation. Secondly, Yasukuni and its lay organisation, Izokukai probably have to make alterations to their stance somewhat. Both organisations have clearly expressed their wish for a visit by the current emperor. Recent rulings by the Supreme Court have also indicated that visits by the prime minister or the emperor are constitutional. However, it is now clear that the controversy over the enshrinement of class A war criminals has to be resolved. Moreover, though the emperor is the highest authority of Shinto, he does not exercise direct control of any Shinto shrine including Yasukuni. However, Yasukuni ideology is clearly in favour of the pre-war arrangement in which the emperor was the official head of Shinto. Thirdly, the revelation clearly shifts the focus of the controversy to the enshrinement of class A war criminals, meaning that the issue of the separation between the state and the church is no longer the main focus. The public opinion is split between those on the left who advocate the removal and those on the right who nonetheless object to the removal.

On 4 August 2006, Japanese media reported that Junichiro Koizumi's expected successor, Shinzo Abe, had visited the shrine in April. Chinese and South Korean governments expressed concern over Abe visit to Yasukuni.[11] However, Abe has remained vague as to whether he had visited or would visit the shrine and subsequent events have led some to suggest that a compromise on the issue has been formed with China. [12]

Retiring Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the shrine on 15 August 2006, the anniversary of Japan's official World War II surrender [13].

In June 2007, former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui visited the shrine to pay his respects to his elder brother Lee Teng-ching (李登欽, or Lí Teng-khim in Taiwanese POJ), also known as Iwasato Takenori (岩里武則|) in Japanese, who is among the 27,863 Taiwanese honored there. [5]

In August 2007, the 16 members of the Cabinet all declared they had no intention of visiting the shrine during the Japan Surrender Day. Abe, who at this point had not disclosed whether he himself intended to go, commented "Paying homage at the Yasukuni temple, or not, is up to the individual, even for a Cabinet member. I expect people to use their own discretion."¨[6]

Sanae Takaichi, minister in charge of gender equality and Okinawa-related issues, visited the shrine in an apparent effort to avoid a rare absence of all Cabinet members at Yasukuni on the surrender anniversary on 15th August, 2007.[7]

Layout

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A statue representing a kamikaze pilot, at the Yasukuni shrine.
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Statue dedicated to widowed mothers, who raised their children after losing their husbands in the war
There are a multitude of facilities within the grounds of the shrine. The following is a list of the main ones, in order from the main entrance:
  • Ō-torii ("great torii"): Large steel torii gate at the entrance, approximately 25 metres tall and 34 metres wide.
  • Senseki no ishi - a collection of 51 stones from various battlefields.
  • Irei no izumi (spring of remembrance) - monument to dedicate water to those who died in battle while gasping for water.
  • Statue of Omura Masujiro - Japan's first western-style bronze statue, built in 1893.
  • Ō-tōrō ("great lanterns") - Two stone lanterns dating from 1935, the largest in Japan. One depicting the Navy and the other depicting the Army.
  • Dovecotes - facilities for breeding white doves, which are a symbol of peace.
  • 2nd torii
  • Shinmon - a 6-metre tall gatehouse made of hinoki cypress, with the gates adorned with the Chrysanthemum Crest.
  • Haiden - the main prayer hall, built in 1901. The white screens hanging off the ceiling are changed to purple ones on ceremonial occasions.
  • Honden - The main sanctuary, built in 1872 and refurbished in 1989, where rituals take place. Closed to the public.
  • Reijibo hōanden - Shrine archive, containing the names of all those enshrined in the main shrine. Built of quakeproof concrete in 1972 with a private donation from the Showa emperor, Hirohito.
  • Chinreisha - "Spirit Pacifying Shrine", to the south of the main sanctuary. A small shrine dedicated to those not enshrined in the main shrine, and to all those killed by wars worldwide, regardless of nationality. It has a festival on July 13th.
  • Statue of an army dog - to pacify the souls of dogs killed in the battlefield.
  • Statue of an army horse - to pacify the souls of army horses killed in the battlefield.
  • A memorial to pigeons - to pacify the souls of homing pigeons used by the military.
  • Statue of a mother - built in 1974 to thank all mothers who single-handedly raised children in the absence of fathers killed in war.
  • Yushukan - Originally built in 1882, a museum housing war relics, including a Zero Fighter plane and Kaiten suicide torpedo, to the north of the main hall. It glorifies sacrifice and bravery, while making little mention of human suffering on both sides. More controversially, it states that the Pacific War was a war fought by Japan in self-defense. The former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has had to clarify in the Diet that Yushukan's interpretation of history differs to that of the government.
  • Shinchi Teien - A Japanese style garden with pond, refurbished in 1999.
  • Ceremonial sumo ring.

Further reading

  • Breen, John. "The dead and the living in the land of peace: a sociology of the Yasukuni shrine". Mortality 9, 1 (February 2004): 76-93.
  • Breen, John. "Yasukuni Shrine: Ritual and Memory", Japan Focus, June 3, 2005
  • Nelson, John. "Social Memory as Ritual Practice: Commemorating Spirits of the Military Dead at Yasukuni Shinto Shrine". Journal of Asian Studies 62, 2 (May 2003): 445-467.
  • Sturgeon, William Daniel (August 2006). Japan's Yasukuni Shrine: Place of Peace or Place of Conflict? Regional Politics of History and Memory in East Asia . Dissertation.com. ISBN 1-58112-334-5. 

The controversy

  • Ijiri, Hidenori. "Sino-Japanese Controversies since the 1972 Diplomatic Normalization". China Quarterly 124 (Dec 1990): 639-661.
  • Shibuichi, Daiki. "The Yasukuni Dispute and the Politics of Identity of Japan: Why All the Fuss?" Asian Survey 45, 2 (March-April 2005): 197-215.
  • Tamamoto, Masaru. "A Land Without Patriots: The Yasukuni Controversy and Japanese Nationalism". World Policy Journal 18, 3 (Fall 2001): 33-40.
  • Yang, Daqing. “Mirror for the future of the history card? Understanding the ‘history problem’” in Chinese-Japanese Relations in the Twenty-first Century: Complementarity and Conflict, edited by Marie Söderberg, 10-31. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002.

See also

References

1. ^ Yomiuri Shimbun]: 基礎からわかる靖国神社問題】Q 戦前、戦後 どんな役割?]. Retrieved on 2007-01-30.
2. ^ The Japan Times (2007-03-29) Yasukuni, state in '69 OK'd war criminal inclusion (2007-06-01)
3. ^ "-Does your majesty feel responsibility for the war itself, including the opening of hostilities ? -I can't answer that kind of question because I haven't thoroughly studied the literature in this field, and so I don't really appreciate the nuances of your words." H. Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, 200, p.676
4. ^ Yasukuni and a week that will live in infamy, [14]
5. ^ Taiwan ex-leader in shrine visit, BBC News (2007-06-07)
6. ^ Abe on Yasukuni: 'To pay homage or not is up to the individual Japan News Review
7. ^ State minister Takaichi visits Yasukuni Shrine
  • Breen, John. "Yasukuni Shrine: Ritual and Memory", Japan Focus, June 3, 2005
  • Nelson, John. "Social Memory as Ritual Practice: Commemorating Spirits of the Military Dead at Yasukuni Shinto Shrine". Journal of Asian Studies 62, 2 (May 2003): 445-467.
  • Pye, Michael: Religion and Conflict in Japan with Special Reference to Shinto and Yasukuni Shrine. In: Diogenes 50:3 (2003), S. 45-59.
  • Saaler, Sven: Politics, Memory and Public Opinion. München, iudicium, 2005.

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jinja (Japanese: 神社) is a Shinto shrine and its surrounding natural area. In common usage, jinja often refers to the buildings of a shrine.
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Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to)

Capital n/a
Region Kantō
Island Honshū
Governor Shintaro Ishihara
Area 2,187.
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solid gold coin brought in after a reform of the Roman money system. The common origin for the words soldier and payment survives not only in French (soldat and solde) but also in other languages, like German (Soldat and Sold
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Japan

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The Empire of Japan (Kyūjitai: 大日本帝國; Shinjitai: 大日本帝国; pronounced Dai Nippon Teikoku; officially Empire of Greater Japan
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Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism. Asian Holocaust and Japanese war atrocities, are also used for these war crimes. Some war crimes were committed by military personnel from the Empire of Japan in the late 19th century, although
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Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
 United States
 United Kingdom
 China
 France
...et al. Axis powers:
 Germany
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 Italy
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war crime is a punishable offense under international law, for violations of the laws of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war in an inter-state conflict is a war crime, while violations in internal conflicts are typically limited to
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A crime against peace, in international law, refers to the act of military invasion as a war crime, specifically referring to starting or waging war against the integrity, independence, or sovereignty of a territory or state, or else a military violation of relevant international
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Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
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...et al. Axis powers:
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Historical revisionism is the attempt to change commonly held ideas about the past. In its legitimate form (see historical revisionism) it is the reexamination of historical facts, with an eye towards updating historical narratives with newly discovered, more accurate, or less
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Anthem
March of the Volunteers (义勇军进行曲)
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Anthem
Aegukka


Capital Pyongyang

Largest city Pyongyang
Official languages Korean
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Motto
홍익인간(弘益人間) 널리 인간을 이롭게 하?
Anthem
Aegukga (애국가; 愛國歌)
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Anthem
National Anthem of the Republic of China


Capital Taipei[1]

Largest city Taipei[1]
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Japan

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Junichiro Koizumi (小泉 純一郎 Koizumi Jun'ichirō
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Emperor Meiji
Emperor of Japan

Reign 3 February, 1867 – 30 July, 1912
Coronation 3 February, 1867
Born 3 November, 1852
Died 30 July, 1912
Buried
Predecessor Emperor Kōmei
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Shinto (神道 shintō
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The Zuo Zhuan (Chinese: 左傳; Wade-Giles: Tso Chuan), translated as the Chronicle of Zuo or the Commentary of Zuo
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Emperor Meiji
Emperor of Japan

Reign 3 February, 1867 – 30 July, 1912
Coronation 3 February, 1867
Born 3 November, 1852
Died 30 July, 1912
Buried
Predecessor Emperor Kōmei
Successor
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Kami (
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Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) was the title for General Douglas MacArthur during the Occupation of Japan following World War II. Although there were and are other Supreme Allied Commanders, the SCAP title per se has only ever been given to MacArthur.
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Japan

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The Treaty of San Francisco or San Francisco Peace Treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan, was officially signed by 49 nations on September 8, 1951 in San Francisco, California. It came into force on April 28, 1952.
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The Japanese Archipelago (日本列島 Nihon Rettō
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