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Sun Jul  2 10:54:02 CEST 2006

Yasukuni Jinja

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Every so often, an article about the Japanese Prime
Minister comes up in the Swedish dailies- how he visits the
Yasukuni Jinja a few times every year. The article normally
follows with reports on how the neighbouring countries (China,
North and South Korea) protest loudly over this visit.

According to reliable sources, fourteen 'Class A' war
criminals are enshrined here, together with other 'regular'
war criminals (whatever that means) and two and a half million
other japanese warriors and soldiers.

I decided to do a little independent research.

I surfed around, and found three pages:

The first link led to an obviously apologetical page. The
reasoning was clean, but it concentrated on the spiritual
aspects of the shrine, and completely ignored the political
aspects. The text was easy to follow, as was the logic.
  1. Yasukuni-jinja is a Shinto Shrine, with no affiliatoins with the government of Japan.
  2. In Shinto, the spirits of the deceased stay upon this earth forever.
  3. The spirits of all Japanese warriors between 1867 and 1951 are 'housed' in this particular location
  4. Japan is a democracy, where every citizen has the right to practice their religion.
  5. The Prime Minister Koizumi is a Japanese citizen
  6. Therefore he has the right to go to the Shrine.
So his obvious conclusion is that any nations who find this offending is doing it for other reasons. The second link is the Wikipedia (as of today: 2006-07-02). I felt that this page gave a balanced view on the subject. It describes the history as well as the debate & controversy surrounding the shrine. Finally, I managed to get to the Official Yasukuni-Jinja home page. I have to say that reading it gave me the creeps. It started off quite innocently, mentioning the spirits housed there, the Shinto view on the dead, etc. It then followed with questioning the factuality of the existance of the 'comfort women' among the ranks of the Japanese soldiers during the 1937-1945 war. The very thought that these people question the existance of the comfort women infuriates me to no end. It then continues by honking on the apologist horn in various ways. Truly disgusting. Please take the time to read these pages. If you doubt my word (which you should- never take a political statement on face value), try to find out more. So I guess the controversy is clear- with its two and a half million spirits, its a very holy place, a place to pay respects to the dead. Its also a place taken care of by a gang of right-wing fundamentalist apologists of the more despicable parts of the second world war. To conclude: At least I know more about the shrine now. What it stands for. Now I can understand how Japanese leftist intellectuals and neighbouring countries protest the Prime Minister's visits to the shrine. --