OSAKA – A citizens’ group in Osaka filed a lawsuit Friday with the Osaka District Court alleging that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial visit last December to a shrine honoring the war dead, including Class-A war criminals, violated their constitutional right to “live in peace.”
The suit seeks damages of ¥10,000 for each of its 540 members and an injunction forbidding Abe from making any further visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
The group’s organizers said that another group of about 270 people will file a similar suit with the Tokyo District Court soon.
Abe visited Yasukuni on Dec. 26 and made an offering of flowers in his official capacity as prime minister. At the time, he said his prayers were a sign of “reverence for the souls of the war dead.”
Visits by politicians to the Shinto facility, which served as the spiritual backbone of the war, often anger Japan’s neighbors and former victims.
The plaintiffs for the case argue that state visits glorify a soldier’s death and qualify as an act of preparation for war, thereby threatening the lives and freedom of the Japanese people.
After filing the suit, one of the plaintiffs, 26-year-old Kyoto resident Ryo Yoshioka, told reporters that Abe’s visit was more unusual than the lawsuit.
“It’s strange the prime minister would make an official visit to Yasukuni, given that courts have previously declared such visits unconstitutional. And it’s frightening that he’s doing it when tensions across East Asia are high.”