Lack of criticism of war of aggression is reflected in Yasukuni Shrine

Amidst growing criticism from abroad of the Japanese prime minister for planning to visit Yasukini Shrine on August 15, three Japanese college students toured the shrine hoping to learn what makes Japanese neighbors so nervous about Yasukuni visits by government officials.

The July 15 issue of the Sunday Akahata reported what they saw.

"This is something completely different from the shrine in my neighborhood, where children are playing, said 22 year-old student Sasamoto Yoshiko, when she first stepped into the compound of the shrine, which now looks like a museum of old weaponry.

Yasukini Shrine is located in the center of the office district in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. The 99,000 square-meter compound was national property until the end of WWII.

Yasukuni was part of the Japanese military facilities administered by the Ministry of War and the Ministry of Navy.

Going through the 25 meter-high torii gate, the three, accompanied by an Akahata reporter got to the front shrine in which poems written by the emperor and the empress are displayed. Beyond the building stands the main shrine where the spirits of 2,460,000 war dead since the Meiji Restoration are enshrined as gods.

Among those enshrined are the souls of 14 Class-A war criminals, including Prime Minister Tojo Hideki. Only those who gave their lives for the emperor deserve such an honor and so civilian war-dead are excluded.

Leaving the main shrine, they visited an exhibition hall which used to be a room to show off old Japan's war triumphs. Essentially, this function remains unchanged. It displays an array of used arms, including artillery pieces of various sorts, and old shells.

Among them was a real manned torpedo developed to attack huge enemy vessels.

In another hall, named Yasukuni Kaikan, a special exhibition was held under the title "Modern Japan's War." On display were articles left by soldiers who participated in various wars that took place from the Meiji era through the "Great East Asian War."

"That's the same as one that appears in the history textbook edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform," shouted 20 year-old student Tsukada Shinichi, when he located a picture of a body of a soldier with a trumpet in his mouth. He is depicted as a heroic example of a loyal soldier.

Throughout their tour of the shrine, however, the three visitors found no item that showed the misery of war, let alone a single article of remorse for or criticism of wars.

At the end of the tour, the visitors said, "Here, death in war means glory." They agreed that the whole of Yasukuni Shrine is organized solely from the viewpoint of praising and glorifying war. (end)

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