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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 August 11 - 17  > Worshiping at Yasukuni Shrine by Cabinet Ministers violates constitutional principle of separation of state and religion
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2021 August 11 - 17 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Worshiping at Yasukuni Shrine by Cabinet Ministers violates constitutional principle of separation of state and religion

August 14, 15 & 17, 2021

Sitting Cabinet Ministers one after another have recently visited the war-glorifying Yasukuni Shrine in violation of the Constitution stipulating "separation of politics and religion".

Hagiuda Koichi (Education Minister), Inoue Shinji (Science and Technology Minister), and Koizumi Shinjiro (Environment Minister) on August 15, and Kishi Nobuo (Defense Minister) and Nishimura Yasutoshi (Economic Revitalization Minister) on August 13 visited the shrine. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide refrained from visiting but offered a branch of the sacred tree to the shrine as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Aside from Cabinet members, former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Washio Eiichiro, former Defense Minister Inada Tomomi, former Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi Sanae, Lower House member Furuya Keiji who heads the Nippon Kaigi parliamentary league, and former Vice-President of the Upper House Otsuji Hidehisa visited the shrine where Class-A war criminals are enshrined.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on August 15 released a statement stating, "I strongly protest against the visit by Cabinet Ministers to Yasukuni Shrine."

Koike pointed out that Cabinet Ministers offering prayers or making offerings to Yasukuni Shrine is tantamount to proclaiming that they are ideologically in sync with the war-glorifying shrine. He said, "It is the same as the Japanese government declaring to the people throughout Asia and the world that Japan refuses to critically reflect upon its past war of aggression."

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Yasukuni Shrine was the ideological symbol of Japanese militarism used to mobilize the people for the war of aggression. Before and during the war, state Shintoism was the dominant religion, and Yasukuni Shrine was a military-religious institution administered by the Departments of War and Navy. At the time, people were taught to offer their lives to "His Majesty", the emperor and the state, in order to be praised as the "souls of the fallen war heroes". Yasukuni Shrine is where imperial army soldiers had to pledge to fall as cherry blossoms of Kudan (the name of the district where Yasukuni Shrine is located); fallen soldiers' families had to express gratitude to the emperor for his mercy in tears; and young boys pledged to follow the example of the fallen soldiers. In 1978, Tojo Hideki, who was responsible for prosecuting the war of aggression, along with 14 other Class-A war criminals, was secretly enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine. Now, about 2.1 million war dead are enshrined with 47,000 Koreans and Taiwanese who were mobilized in the war under Japanese colonial rule.
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