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High court rules prime minister's Yasukuni visits as unconstitutional

The Osaka High Court on September 30 ruled that it is unconstitutional for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit Yasukuni Shrine, a religious institution that enshrines war dead including Class-A war criminals, because the visits are in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of religion and state.

It was the second court ruling against Koizumi's Yasukuni visits, the first being in 2004 by the Fukuoka District Court. It was also the first high court ruling that supports the plaintiffs' claim.

In the ruling, Judge Otani Masaharu concluded that Koizumi's visits should be regarded as official since he used an official car, was accompanied by the prime minister's secretaries, and signed the visitor's book as "Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro". He also pointed out that the prime minister's Yasukuni visits have been the implementation of a promise he made to do so before he became the prime minister.

This lawsuit was filed by 188 plaintiffs against the Japanese prime minister, the state, and Yasukuni Shrine. They were appealing a rejection of their case by a lower court.

The plaintiffs were from Taiwan, which was occupied by militarist Japan for 50 years until the end of WWII. They included relatives of those who died as Japanese soldiers and are enshrined along with millions of military war dead, including Class-A war criminals.

JCP's comment

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi on the same day published the following statement on the Osaka High Court ruling:

It is epoch-making that a high court for the first time has ruled that Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine are unconstitutional. The ruling pointed out that his Yasukuni visits have been executed as an official practice and that "he has visited the shrine in defiance of strong criticism at home and internationally, indicating that he has had the firm intention of visiting the shrine."

The JCP has said that it is wrong for the prime minister to visit the shrine which glorifies the past Japanese wars of aggression as "just wars" and continues to fulfill its mission to propagandize this view among the public. It is absolutely wrong for the prime minister to visit Yasukuni Shrine as an implementation of his public promise.

The JCP once again strongly demands that Prime Minister Koizumi give up visiting Yasukuni Shrine. -- Akahata, October 1, 2005

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