Prime minister's Yasukuni visit is tantamount to praising death in war of aggression -- Akahata editorial, January 6

Prime Minister Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine on the first day of the New Year. At a press conference after the visit, he tried to justify the visit by stating, "Japan has been built on the lofty sacrifice of those who had to give their lives in the war against their will. Japan has a unique culture."

Koizumi's Yasukuni visit, the fourth since he took office, has infuriated many Asian countries and put serious constraints on Japan's diplomacy, in particular the summit talks with China.

At the same press conference, the prime minister was asked to comment on the planned dispatch to Iraq of the Self-Defense Forces that may cause casualties. But he avoided answering the question, indicating his intention to stay the course.

Yasukuni Shrine was spiritual backbone war of aggression

Yasukuni Shrine enshrines those who "died a glorious death on the battlefield for the sake of Tenno (emperor)" as "departed fallen heroes". In the prewar days, the government forced the public to make a pilgrimage to the shrine as a Japanese citizens' obligation, with criminal penalty for disobedience. Thus, Yasukuni was a spiritual backbone of the policy of forcing the people to serve the war of aggression.

After WW II, the Constitution strictly prohibits the state from engaging in religious activities. This is based on the remorse for the war of aggression and the resolve to not repeat the error Japan committed in the past in going to war using Yasukuni Shrine.

Even today, Yasukuni Shrine displays cannons and other weapons and enshrines Tojo Hideki and other Class-A war criminals, thus continuing to serve as a war shrine as well as a symbol of militarism and war of aggression.

The prime minister visits Yasukuni Shrine in violation of the Constitution to demonstrate his support for the shrine which played its role in promoting the war of aggression by praising death in such war. This is clearly taken as a manifestation of the Koizumi Cabinet's policy of sending troops abroad in defiance of the danger of their being killed in battle.

Former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro who also visited Yasukuni Shrine while in office once said, "Otherwise, who are willing to give their lives to the country?" He said this because he knows that the people not obey a government order that they must give their lives in wars of aggression.

China, South Korea, and other Asian countries are critical of the prime minister's Yasukuni visit because war criminals are among those enshrined there. They are indignant and deeply concerned about the Koizumi Cabinet's policy of strengthening Japan as a major military power and dispatching the Self-Defense Forces abroad.

Koizumi has conceded that the planned deployment of SDF units to Iraq is difficult with anger and repugnance increasing at the lawless U.S.-British war on Iraq and their illegal occupation of Iraq.

The Koizumi Cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party are planning to do more than dispatch the SDF to Iraq they are aiming to establish a law enabling the government to send the SDF abroad anytime without parliamentary approval. The LDP has already made it clear that it will submit to the Diet a draft constitutional amendment next year with the view of eliminating the war-renouncing Article 9.

We must point out that the prime minister is using his Yasukuni visit as a bridgehead for war related deaths.

Koizumi explained that he was visiting Yasukuni Shrine out of the wish to prevent Japan from again going to war. If that is what he regally believes, he must abandon the plan to send the SDF to Iraq.

To 'mourn for the dead'

The Japanese prime minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine is a diplomatic problem as well as a question that has an important bearing on Japan's future course in the 21st century.

A genuine tribute to the war dead must be based on a thoroughgoing remorse for Japan's war of aggression and a resolution that Japan will not repeat the mistake of going to war.

That this is the Japanese people's wish is confirmed by opinion polls in which the majority is opposed to the SDF dispatch to Iraq and more than 70 percent of the respondents do not want Article 9 to be changed.

Let us oppose the prime minister's Yasukuni Shrine visit and block the road to war. Let's make every effort to develop the Japanese road for peace through maintaining the constitutional principles of peace. (end)

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