A panel calls for a new memorial for war dead to exist along with Yasukuni Shrine

The Chief Cabinet Secretary's private panel discussing the issue of establishing a new memorial for the war dead in place of the controversial Yasukuni Shrine published a report on December 24 calling for a national, secular memorial to be established.

The report stated that the new memorial is compatible with the existence of Yasukuni Shrine, saying, "The two facilities will have different objectives."

The report said that the new memorial is also for foreign military personnel and civilians as well as Japanese soldiers who died in past wars, and that those lost lives after World War II, including those who died in U.N. peace-keeping operations, will be included.

Whether Class-A war criminals will be included was not clear in the report.

Whether the prime minister's visit of Yasukuni Shrine is acceptable or not was not stated either, even though the panel was formed to discuss the issue in the wake of Prime Minister Koizumi's shrine visit in August 2001 that was criticized in Japan and internationally for representing his favorable view of Japan's past war of aggression against Asian neighbors.

Akahata on December 25 stated that the panel's report makes no sense because it proposes the establishment of a new institution, leaving Yasukuni Shrine as it is. The panel was formed to discuss the construction of a new memorial to replace Yasukuni Shrine in the first place, the paper pointed out.

Akahata strongly criticized Prime Minister Koizumi for throwing away a principled position. When he visited South Korea in October 2001, Prime Minister Koizumi explained to South Korean President Kim Dae Jung about the plan to construct a new memorial for the war dead. But he later came under pressure from forces of reaction who demand that the state-run Yasukuni Shrine and that the Constitution be revised, and ended up paying a surprise visit to the shrine and issued a statement praising the shrine as the center of paying respects to the war dead.

Akahata said that discussion on this issue should be based on a reflection of the war of aggression and adherence to the Constitution's peace principle, and pointed out that the report showed no trace of such a basic position. (end)