by Thomas U. Berger
Why does Abe keep going back to the Yasukuni Shrine?
SOURCE: Al Jazeera
Abe visited the Tokyo shrine last week and sparked anger from China and both Koreas.
SOURCE: Asahi Shimbum
To prevent relations with China and South Korea from further deteriorating, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided not to visit Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the date marking the end of World War II, sources said.Instead, Abe will make a personal monetary offering in his position as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to the shrine, which memorializes Japan’s war dead along with 14 Class-A war criminals, according to the sources.Abe has been forced into a delicate balancing act concerning Yasukuni Shrine.The prime minister has been repeatedly asked about his plans for Aug. 15. His usual reply has been: “Because the very question of whether I visit the shrine will by itself become a political and diplomatic issue, I will not say whether or not I will visit.”...
SOURCE: Japan Times
Every year around this time, in the run-up to the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in 1945, feverish speculation ensues about whether Japan’s top politicians will visit Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo. Chinese and South Koreans — not to mention many Japanese — abhor such visits because the shrine honors the souls of 14 “Class A” war criminals. Visitors say they have every right to honor the 2.5 million other Japanese war dead celebrated at Yasukuni; they compare the shrine to the U.S. war cemetery at Arlington. This is dangerous nonsense.
With just a week to go until Aug. 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, local media have gone on full Yasukuni alert, trying to predict which Cabinet ministers will be heading to the controversial shrine to pay their respects to the country’s war dead.This annual media circus on an otherwise a solemn day of remembrance is likely to take on an added significance for Japan this year, as China and South Korea increasingly view visits to the shrine as a measure of hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment–or lack thereof–to face up to Japan’s wartime history.The Shinto shrine located in central Tokyo honors over two million war dead, including numerous convicted war criminals.Virtually all of Mr. Abe’s Cabinet ministers were asked about their schedules for next Thursday during their respective post-Cabinet meeting press conferences....
J. Berkshire Miller is a fellow on Japan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum. The views expressed are his own.“Japan is back,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced to a packed room at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington back in February. The remarks came during his first visit to the United States since he returned to power in a landslide election in December. But while Abe’s aggressive stimulus policies have sent his approval ratings soaring at home, Japan’s neighbors have been watching much more warily....
TOKYO — Visits by Cabinet ministers and lawmakers to a shrine honoring Japan’s war dead, including 14 World War II leaders convicted of atrocities, signal Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s determination to pursue a more nationalist agenda after months of focusing on the economy.Nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers paid homage at Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday. A day earlier, visits by three Cabinet ministers, said by the government to be unofficial, drew protests from neighbors South Korea and China over actions they view as failures to acknowledge Japan’s militaristic past.China and South Korea — Japan’s No. 1 and No. 3 trading partners, respectively — bore the brunt of Tokyo’s pre-1945 militarist expansion in Asia and routinely criticize visits to the shrine. Almost seven decades after the war ended, it still overshadows relations....
Just one year after Emperor Meiji proclaimed the Japanese Empire in 1868, he ordered the construction of a majestic new Shinto shrine in Tokyo. The Yasukuni Shrine was to record the names of every man, woman and child who died in service of the new empire. And it was to be a place of worship, part of a larger effort to make the empire something of a state religion. By the time Japan collapsed in defeat at the end of World War II, more than 2 million names had been added to the shrine.For more than 75 years, Yasukuni was a symbol of Japan’s imperial mission; both were officially sacred. The shrine was considered the final resting place of Japanese soldiers, colonists and others who served the imperial expansion that had plunged all of East Asia and eventually the United States into a costly and horrific war.
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