True aim of "idealization of the war dead"-- Akahata editorial, August 1, 2001
Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has repeated that he will visit
Yasukuni Shrine officially on August 15, the anniversary of Japan's defeat
in World War II.
Asked by the press if Prime Minister Koizumi really can't understand that
the prime minister's official visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines
Class-A war criminals, is being strongly criticized in Japan and
internationally, he failed to give a definitive answer to the question. And
he hasn't changed his mind.
Why does he cling to the idea of visiting the shrine officially?
"Follow the fathers who died in the war"
Prime Minister Koizumi is saying that today's Japan has been established
due to the sacrifice of the war dead.
It is natural to pay tribute to the war victims and make a pledge not to
force anyone else to die in a war.
The question is why he needs to visit Yasukuni Shrine to do that.
In the pre-war days, Yasukuni Shrine propagandized that to die in the war
for the country was a praiseworthy deed and called on the public to follow
the war dead.
On August 6, 1939, General Suzuki Takao, the shrine's chief priest,
speaking to the children of the war dead, stressed that their fathers'
deaths were the most valuable deaths of human beings because they gave their
lives for their country. He called on them to follow their fathers' wishes
and die for their country.
Yasukuni Shrine was the spiritual mainstay of the war of aggression and
militarism. To die for Japan was idealized and all the people, including
children, were forced to "follow the wishes of the war dead" and were thus
mobilized. "This is why the government has enshrined those dead fathers'
memories in the Yasukuni Shrine," said Suzuki.
The morals textbooks in pre-war Japan said, "All students must follow the
people enshrined here and do their best for the Emperor and their country."
Japanese people were taught in education to die in war so that they could be
enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine.
Even though Yasukuni Shrine was reorganized as a religious corporation as
a result of a post-war disposition banning state commitment to religious
matters, it still tries to exist as a military shrine. We can't overlook
The proof of this is found in its exhibits of guns and other weapons
within its walls, and enshrinement of Class-A criminals of World War II, who
were judged guilty by the international community as responsible for
invoking the war of aggression.
Why does Prime Minister Koizumi of the LDP have the impulse to visit
Yasukuni Shrine on August 15? The answer is found in the LDP, a party
succeeding to the forces that led the war of aggression, and is adhering to
policies to glorify it even now.
Prime Minister Koizumi suddenly began to say that he hopes to visit
Yasukuni Shrine at the final stage of the LDP presidential election. His
statement must be taken in conformity with his arguments for implementing
Japan's right to collective self-defense and call for revision of the
Constitution's Article 9, both stated in his speech after the inauguration.
Based on the reflection of the war of aggression, the Constitution,
declaring that Japan never repeats war again through an act of government,
strictly bans the government from committing such actions.
Koizumi is under a shower of calls from China, South Korea and other
Asian nations and the rest of the world in opposition to and critical of his
Yasukuni Shrine visit. Tom Plate, professor at the University of California
in the U.S., said that many people see Yasukuni Shrine visits as a proof of
the possibility of the revival of militarism in Japan and insensitivity to
its war crimes.
What's genuine tribute to the war dead?
Even if Koizumi maintains that soldiers' deaths were lofty because they
devoted their lives to the state, the sorrow of the bereaved families will
not be eased.
Nothing is more contemptuous of the war dead than an attempt to use the
occasion of 'remembering the war dead' to glorify the war of aggression.
The genuine way of paying tribute to the war dead is to stop
unconstitutional visits to Yasukuni Shrine based on a reflection on the war
of aggression, so that Japan will never follow the road to war again. (end)