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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 June 4 - 10  > SDF holds religious ceremony ignoring principle of separation between religion and state
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2014 June 4 - 10 [SDF]

SDF holds religious ceremony ignoring principle of separation between religion and state

June 5, 2014
The Self-Defense Forces in Hokkaido invited a priest of the so-called “Northern Yasukuni Shrine” to its facility to carry out a ceremony. Akahata reported on June 5.

Citizens are criticizing it for violating the principle of the separation of religion and state.

The Ground SDF Asahikawa Station (Asahikawa City, Hokkaido Prefecture) on March 18 held an event celebrating the completion of two five-story buildings on its premises. The construction cost amounted to two billion yen each and was covered by the budget originally allocated to reconstruction work of the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster. The chief priest of the Hokkaido Gokoku Shrine took part in the event to purify the buildings and to make an offering to a “god”.

This fact came to light after an Asahikawa City Assembly member, who was a GSDF official, wrote on his blog about the ceremony and posted pictures about it. Facing fierce criticism that the rite violated the constitutional principle of the separation of religion and state, he deleted the blog post in May.

In response to an Akahata inquiry, the local SDF said that the event in question fell within the scope of socially accepted prayers for safety, and that the fee to the priest was paid by an official in charge of the station at his private expense.

Taniuchi Sakae, 83, who represents a group of the war bereaved in Asahikawa’s neighboring city of Takikawa, criticized the SDF by saying that it is unacceptable to invite a religious figure to hold a ceremony in state-owned facilities including the SDF building, and the event clearly violates the supreme law.

Akahata previously reported that top officials of the GSDF Asahikawa Station repeatedly made group visits to the Hokkaido Gokoku Shrine. The local peace groups and churches raised their voices against this by saying that their visits violate the constitutional principle of the separation of religion and state.

Past related article
> SDF officials regularly visit ‘Yasukuni’ in Hokkaido [February 10, 2014]
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