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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 April 24 - May 7  > Abe arrogantly supports ministers’ Yasukuni visits
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2013 April 24 - May 7 [HISTORY]

Abe arrogantly supports ministers’ Yasukuni visits

April 26, 2013
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has taken a defiant attitude toward criticism from other Asian nations regarding his ministers’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine, stating that he “will not yield to any kind of intimidation.” This has provoked another serious diplomatic dispute.

Yasukuni Shrine is distinguished from other Shinto shrines with its specific history of being directly related to Japanese militarism. It holds a view justifying Japan’s wars of aggression as wars “in self-defense” and “for liberation of Asia”, and plays a major role in propagating this view.

Before and during the war, Yasukuni was a military-religious institution administrated by the Departments of War and Navy. The late Emperor Showa (Hirohito) visited the shrine wearing the uniform of the Japanese military’s top commander. The state used the shrine to mobilize the people for wars of aggression by spreading propaganda that fallen solders’ spirits will be enshrined together in Yasukuni as war heroes and honored by the Emperor. With this state propaganda in place, many people were driven to go to war under the slogan, “Let’s meet again at Yasukuni in the after-life.”

Even after the war, the shrine maintained its position of glorifying war. In 1978, Tojo Hideki, who had been executed as a Class-A war criminal by the Tokyo Tribunal, was enshrined at Yasukuni. Up until the beginning of the 21st century, the shrine argued that Class-A war criminals “are persons who were falsely accused of war crimes.”

Cabinet members’ visits to such a controversial institution signify that the Japanese government maintains its stance of justifying the nation’s past aggressive wars.

Japan’s colonization of Korea was an invasion of a sovereign nation. Furthermore, the war against China following the 1931 Manchurian Incident was also a war of aggression that the Imperial Japanese government waged with the aim of territorial expansion and the eventual colonization of China.

It is a matter of course for the Chinese and South Korean governments to raise their voices in protest against the ministers’ Yasukuni visits. China has stated that Japan “intends to deny its history of invasion under militarism” and South Korea has criticized Yasukuni Shrine as a “place beautifying Japan’s past war.”

Prime Minister Abe, however, characterizes the protest from the two nations, victims of Japan’s aggression, as “intimidation”, showing his denial of wrongdoing in the nation’s past wars of aggression.

* * *

Abe claims that China and South Korea did not express much protest against Japanese statesmen’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine before around 2000, but that is false.

Asian countries protested strongly against the then Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro’s official visit to the shrine on August 15, 1985, and Nakasone had to give up his planned visit to the shrine the next year. After that, the Yasukuni Shrine had not received a visit by an active prime minister until 2001, except the one by Hashimoto Ryutaro in 1996.

In August 1986, the then chief cabinet secretary issued a statement about Nakasone’s decision to not make an official visit to the shrine. It states as follows; “[F]or such reasons as the enshrinement of the so-called ‘class-A war criminals’ at Yasukuni Shrine, criticism on the official visit last year has been raised by the peoples of neighboring countries who experienced tremendous suffering and damage as a result of Japan's acts in the past, questioning whether the Ministers worshipped these ‘class-A war criminals’ who were responsible for such acts of Japan. In addition, it is even possible that they come to misunderstand and mistrust Japan's remorse over the past war and its determination to work for peace and friendship expressed on various occasions.”

Abe wants to stir up national pride based on his false sense of history and tradition. However, if he wants to be proud of this country, he should accept the past as it is.
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