Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sounded a cautious note Tuesday about a proposal to establish a new state-managed war memorial as a substitute for Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals as well as the nation’s war dead.
“How bereaved families would feel about such a new war memorial is a very big issue,” Abe told the House of Councilors Budget Committee, although adding that Japan may need a monument that lacks religious affiliation where people can place flowers, noting other countries have such sites.
Yasukuni Shrine, located in central Tokyo, is regarded as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism by China and South Korea, where the memories of Japan’s wartime atrocities remain.
Abe has proposed revising Article 96 of the Constitution in order to ease the requirements for enacting amendments to the charter and wants the article amended ahead of discussions on other constitutional changes, reportedly with the ultimate goal of changing the war-renouncing Article 9.
Abe also stressed the need to enact as early as possible a bill to rezone single-seat constituencies of the House of Representatives after legislation to cut the number of such constituencies by five from the current 300 was enacted last November.
The enactment of the bill must be given priority after many high courts and high court branches ruled earlier this year that the Lower House election last December, which returned his Liberal Democratic Party to power, was unconstitutional or “in a state of unconstitutionality” due to wide vote-value disparities between densely and sparsely populated constituencies, he said.
But he refrained from going into detail on a full-scale electoral system overhaul for the Lower House, only saying the LDP-New Komeito ruling coalition has already unveiled reform plans, including a cut of 30 proportional representation seats.