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Akie Abe pays visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine

by

Staff Writer

Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, indicated Thursday that she had recently visited war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, a move that may rile China, South Korea and possibly the United States.

She posted two undated but recent photos of the visit on Facebook. In one, she stands in front of the shrine’s main structure, and in the other she poses with the Yushukan war museum in the background. Exhibits at the Yushukan, a facility adjacent to the shrine, are often criticized for glorifying Japan’s wars in the 1930s and 40s.

“I paid a visit to Yasukuni Shrine for the first time in a long time. And I also entered Yushukan,” she wrote in a comment attached to the photos. Yushukan displays many mementos of dead Japanese soldiers, and other war-related items.

“I feel pain in my chest when I read letters and farewell notes (of soldiers) left for their families,” she wrote.

“I’m really thankful for being able to live in a peaceful, rich Japan, and again have come to feel I should do what I can do for world peace,” she wrote.

Yasukuni enshrines the souls of 2.47 million Japanese soldiers who “dedicated their lives to the state.” The enshrined, however, also include Japanese Class-A war criminals from World War II, most notably wartime Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo.

The Shinto facility is thus often regarded as a symbol of Japan’s militarism before and during World War II. Visits by top Japanese politicians, in particular the prime minister, have been criticized by China, South Korea and even the United States.

Shinzo Abe visited the shrine in December 2013, drawing condemnation both at home and abroad.

Abe insisted he was visiting as a private citizen, but signed the flowers he laid there as “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”

His visit to the shrine, however, Which he said was to pay his respects to the soldiers who died for the state and not to glorify Japan’s wartime deeds, damaged Japan’s ties with China and South Korea, ties that have only recently begun showing signs of improving.

Chinese President Xi Jinping held a brief summit meeting with Shinzo Abe in November and April.

The Japanese leader, however, has been unable to meet South Korean President Park Geun-hye in a formal one-on-one meeting.

  • Don Corleone

    People need to lighten up – the shrine is honoring those who fought in honor of their country, you can’t change history nor ignore the dead who gave their souls.

    • kingyama

      Don corleone= People are too sensitive these days about every little thing.
      Sir it may be a little thing for you because they were not your loved ones that suffered due to imperial japanese army.you are insulting thousands of innocent victims……..it’s hurts us and anger us …. and what hurts us more is that it was Mrs.abe there visiting that shrine….

      • Don Corleone

        We all suffer in different ways – some more than others. Your lost war was a long time ago, so lighten up. The dead would want it that way.

      • kension86

        You don’t speak for the dead, much less assuming the dead somehow all “shared the same opinion”.

        Maybe you are right, or maybe the dead have all reincarnated by now, or maybe some of them remain as an angry ghost like in a horror movie, or maybe they are all in heaven/hell, or maybe they don’t “exist”….etc etc.

      • kingyama

        what is there to lighten up when someone that raped,murdered,destroyed everything you had is being prayed…..its very insensitive of you to say that…..

    • kension86

      1st of all, the whining from PRC/SK government was not because they are “sensitive”, it’s for their own political goal.

      2ndly, the actual war-dead being there were NOT the target/cause of the complain…

      3rdly, Emperor Hirohito disliked a secret move made by the head priest of the shrine in the 1978, and had stopped visiting the Shrine since then. And he cared about the war-dead more than many others.

      4th, A revisionist museum Yushukan is officially part of the Shrine.

      5th, just because the Shrine has the job of enshrining the war-dead doesn’t make it immune to criticism any more than a doctor or cop should be immune to criticism when they claim to be a fan of Nazism, for example.

      lastly, some people are too sensitive about others being sensitive these days. (this last line is “for fun” so you can ignore it)

  • Richard Solomon

    How ironic, if not stupid, that Mrs. Abe would announce this around the same time that her husband voiced his ‘deep repentance’ and ‘eternal condolences’ regarding WW II in his speech to the US Congress. I had hopes that her position against the restart of the nuclear power plants meant that Mrs. Abe was more thoughtful than the PM. This suggests that she is as oblivious to how much of the world views Japanese denial about its history as her husband is. How sad, as well as self defeating, when people are more interested in glorifying their ancestors than they are in repairing their current relationships. Japan will never achieve reconciliations with S Korea, China, and other Asian countries as long as its leaders continue to make these sojourns to Yasukuni.

    • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

      Is it wrong to offer repentance at the shrine, it is her family shrine. Like maybe you would go to your family church Ok.

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        The simple fact that convicted war criminals are interred there makes it an “unwise” decision for the wife of the Prime Minister to make. Imagine Merkel’s husband taking a selfie at the grave of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, et al, same thing.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Akie-san is right to say that she is really thankful for living in a rich, peaceful Japan. No other country has as stellar record as Japan since 1945 for peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights. It is truly unfortunate that Abe Shinzo and most members of his ruling clique choose not to celebrate only this achievement but to also claim that Japan had committed mostly the crime of losing the war thereby bringing victors justice upon Japan and making the Japanese people have to believe in a masochistic history of guilt for war crimes such as the mass slaughter of civilians, the sexual enslavement of women and girls by the Imperial Japanese military for sexual purposes — a handful of whom are still alive — the experimentation on POWs and captive civilians, the mistreatment and killing of POWs in contravention of international law, the invasion and annexation and colonization of various parts of Asia, and the suppression of rights within Japan itself in order to carry out this disastrous war.

    The Showa Emperor and the rest of the Imperial family have essentially boycotted Yasukuni because once again the Imperial family’s honor is being besmirched by those who claim that the Showa Restoration was an honorable action. Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians. The best way to revere the Emperor these days is to expiate Japan by fully acknowledging the barbarity of Japan prior to 1945 and to have a healthy relationship with Korea and China.

    • tisho

      ”No other country has as stellar record as Japan since 1945 for peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights.” Laughable statement at best. Obviously you are not very familiar with post war Japan, and post war other countries. Japan even today, at 2015, has a terrible record of human rights abuses and violations. Anyone making such an insanely inaccurate and laughable statement is clearly unfamiliar with Japan or any other country most likely for that matter.

      • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

        Laugh all you want, for your statement is empty. You must be laughing at yourself and your hand.

  • Ahojanen

    Next time, Roy, the pet dog of Abes, will visit the Yasukuni, –> The JT rushes to write it for the headline –> reports taken and circulated by foreign media outlets. –> China and Korea react, “Kill (and eat up) Roy!” :)

    But more seriously, it is interesting to explore whether the first lady is a public figure (earning a salary from the state).

    • kension86

      It really takes the media spotlight more than it deserves… but since this kind of controversy generates debates -> more views, so here we go again…

  • 99Pcent

    Nothing wrong here. I myself went to Yasukuni shrine when visiting Japan and visited the attached war museum. The exhibition was truly heart wrenching and provided a reflective window on the failings of the imperial armies strategy. Letters from Kamikaze pilots in their teens duped into flying and young men being drafted off to war. The pressure was such that it was unimaginable not to obey the emperor in that era. Japanese dont go there to play the victim of the war nor do they go there to legitimize it, they go there to remind themselves of the terrible loss of men and women during the period. What Korea and China fail to understand is that Yasukuni provides for Japanese a point of reference of their own shortcomings. The question hangs in the air, what if this did not happen, thus in a way serving as a event that encourages remorse and regret. We often hear of the accusation from the right wing Koreans and pretend Chicoms that the Japanese are worshiping war mongers and thus legitimizing Japans actions in the 20th century. This is not true. The real reason why so many go there is to pray for the end of all wars worldwide and for a repeat of the past not to happen ever again. They pray for a strong Japan, a Japan that does not repeat the past mistakes. Fair enough I say. After all, I find the right winger Koreans much more scary and violent then the people that go to the shrine to pray for the end of all conflicts. Of course the justification from the right wing Koreans and Chicoms is that class A war criminals are enshrined in Yasukuni. This also is a misunderstanding as Japanese Shinto culture has very different practices and beliefs to that of the rest of the world. According to Shinto, everyone gets a burial, no matter who. It is a matter of fact. As for the Japanese that see or hear of those that are buried there> There are some that maybe see them as war heroes, but most of the population dont. The same way many Germans and Russians still worship Hitler and Stalin and the same way the Chinese Communist Part enshrines the embalmed body of Mao, the most murderous and vicious cold hearted dictator of the 20th century. Millions of Chinese go to see his corpse and even pray to it. What is up with that?
    All I can really say to the right winger Koreans and Chinese is: before you start to create a situation or accuse people of wrong doing, try to find out what is really going on instead of acting through ignorance and hate. You stay in your own nations and live of the hate filled propaganda your leaders choose to brainwash you with because they have and agenda. Any person with half a brain can see that the Japanese of today, including their leaders are definitely not following the path of war. Rather they are preaching against it. It is starting to look ridiculous to hear the scare mongering right wingers in Korea and hate filled Chicoms say that Japan is preparing for war. The only people preparing for war are the Chinese. Look at what they are doing in SCS, Sea of Japan and India to name a few.
    The world is not stupid, so stop lying to us Korea and China. Look after your own internal problems and treat your people well instead of filling their heads with garbage and hate.

    • Bruce Chatwin

      Interesting that all your vitriol is reserved for Korean and Chinese “right-wingers”. Do you have anything to say to the Japanese right? The Zaitokukai? Nippon Kaigi? Ganbare Nippon?

      • 99Pcent

        Providing that these so called Japanese right wingers do the same as their Korean and Chinese counter parts and the story is about them, then yes I will say my piece. But not here my dear fellow and I would hardly call my writing vitriol, rather to the point and relevant.

      • Bruce Chatwin

        This article was not about Korean and Chinese right-wingers, yet that did not stop you from posting your diatribe against them. Any person with half a brain can see that your writing is most definitely not to the point and relevant.

      • 99Pcent

        Yes it is, they are complaining about Yasukuni Shrine and making such a big thing about it when they dont understand what the real meaning is behind the whole thing. BTW no need to run down my comment, it is alright if you want to take sides with the Chicoms, but dont run my comment down. It dose not make you a better person or writer for that. Easy to be a hater.

      • kension86

        Well, to be fair, it doesn’t sound genuine either to immediately accuse him as “chicom supporters” without more evidences…

        Personally, I agree with most of the stuff you wrote, though I would like to elaborate on a few points:

        1) for the museum Yushukan, it underwent renovation in 2006 under former diplomat Okazaki, and here’s what he said at the time.

        “My primary objective in modifying the exhibits is to protect the intellectual integrity of Yasukuni Shrine. The principal yardstick for alterations is to remove inappropriate expressions that may be viewed as intellectually dishonest or far-fetched.”

        So after 2007, the museum became more “modest”.

        2) -> “What Korea and China fail to understand is that Yasukuni provides for Japanese a point of reference of their own shortcomings.”

        Yes, though it can do better… As far as criticism against its own Imperial government goes, it’s really tame. What about the war ministers’ role in delaying the surrender that led to more death, or propaganda of painting the US forces as monster to encourage their Japanese soldiers to fight to the death instead of surrendering.

        A joint memorial of Iwo Jima with US is a model example that can convince others that you are serious with the global peace effort. Hopefully we can see more of these in the future.

        3) -> “before you start to create a situation or accuse people of wrong doing”

        And Abe is unfortunately also guilty of this. Several months ago, he sent agents to US to lecture on several American textbook authors. This move is unnecessary. I was cool with Abe until he made this disappointing move.

        4) about Japan “going to war”, McCain did make a public comment “expecting to see SDF in action in middle east”.

        Nothing is finalized yet of course, but it would pain me to see Japan to be involved in Operation “Iraq II” in the future…

      • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

        and you would say what about the texbook changes in china?
        Mcain? Many LOL for that comment.
        I agree Japan should stay out of other peoples wars, just focus on her own defense and maybe even get nuclear deterrent to keep China and NK on the level. what you say to that?

      • kension86

        I still have plenty of trust in the current Japan so I am fine with them owning nuke, as long as it’s done properly (with majority people’s support).

        As for the topics on China, I don’t even bother criticizing them in the same way I don’t bother criticizing AQ or ISIS. It’s just so obvious that it’s like pointing out the earth is not flat…

      • kingyama

        saying the chinese chicoms and visiting the graves of criminals clearly illustrates what kind of person you are!!! its not about taking side of chinese or japanese..its about right and wrong…justice and injustice…..easy as that!!

      • 99Pcent

        Worshiping Mao is right?????

      • kingyama

        so is this your answer why japanese should pray those criminals? …. what kind of person you are is already illustrated..

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        Why attach “so-called” to Japanese right-wingers? I see no question as to their political leanings.

      • yilu shi

        99 percent is right: The only people preparing for war are the Chinese. Such a huge dictatorship country as evil as japan before ww2

    • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

      I totally agree with your outlook. Many Kudos to you, though your writing style needs some improvement.

    • CaptainAsia

      Yasukune is just nothing, no need to make so much noise about these visits. these countries just want to make and excuse to cause trouble for Japan, sour grapes and everyone is getting tired of it.

  • timefox

    Reports that criticize until faith of individual abnormal. Moreover, in order to criticize the Prime Minister Abe, reports that use the wife of action sucks.

    • R0ninX3ph

      Timefox, please go away until such time as you are able to construct English sentences yourself, and don’t need to rely on Google Translate.

      • 151E

        Do you suppose Timefox reads JT through Google Translate in Japanese? No telling then what sort of garbled articles he/she/it/other is reading.

      • CaptainAsia

        I think he is Chinese commie using goooogle translate into English from Chinese, NO?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Pretty sure Timefox is Japanese, with all the pro-Japan statements they make, I’d find it hard to believe they were Chinese.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I have to imagine they don’t actually read the articles, I really Japan Times to run an article about blankets that provide Comfort (for) Women. With the “for” being in really tiny font, just to see the Net Uyoku Whackadoodles come in and flood the comments about Comfort Women.

        Half the time it is so obvious they haven’t actually read the article in which they are replying to, and are just repeating their tired old rhetoric, I am sure it would be amusing for everyone else.

    • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

      Chinese fox should learn how to write proper English.

    • Paul Johnny Lynn

      You…..make…..no…..sense!

  • JimmyJM

    In addition to the soldiers enshrined in Yasukuni, there are many others who died in the war including high school children, nurses, and others. That should not be the point though. Yasukuni is a temple. It celebrates a religion. All Japanese, including politicians and their spouses, should have the right to worship there as their beliefs dictate. No one tries to dictate to any other politicians anywhere in the world what religious structures they can and can’t go into. If Shintoism was the official religion of the Japanese government as Israel and many Muslim countries do with their religion, then, complaints from other nations might be considered reasonable. But visits to a temple of any religion by private citizens, whoever they may be, is their business and their business alone.

    • Bruce Chatwin

      Yasukuni is a shrine, not a temple. Shrines are Shinto, temples are Buddhist.
      Shinto was the state religion of Japan from the Meiji period to the end of WWII. Shinto was used to whip the Japanese population into a frenzy of ultra nationalism and fervent belief in their racial superiority. This of course had horrific consequences. With the postwar constitution, Shinto lost its place as the state religion of Japan.

      • Clickonthewhatnow

        And as such, the state has no say in who is enshrined in Yasukuni. They approached the shrine and asked them to remove the war criminals, but the shrine said that cannot be done. With a resolution in that method being out of the government’s reach, other countries simply go for the “easy” (for them) route of having government officials not being able to honor their war dead.

  • Kiuri

    Good move, and with exquisite timing, by Mrs Abe. I applaud.

    • Bruce Chatwin

      Kiuri, you also claim in the Japan Times that John McCain is a great statesman and that you wish he were the US president…

      • 151E

        Surely in jest, surely…

      • Kiuri

        So? Your point being? I was merely voicing a view that is shared by millions of Americans as well as Japanese.

  • Win T Pu

    What the Japanese people who visit or condone the placing of the war criminals in that shrine and then worship there is that you are giving the victim peoples, and countries the middle finger, whatever you mean by that. You say you are not insulting us but you look at us cross-eyed and expect us to small and blow you a kiss?

    When you have committed heinous crimes, you do not decide what is sufficient apology. You find out what the victims feel is necessary apology. You do not have one Priminister declare an apology with no follow-up action to it and keep debating that declaration as if not retracting it is such a heroic deed. You have a Kono declaration on the sex slaves and young Abe protested that statement furiously together with a whole gang of his scions of the militarists.

    Were Germany to behave by Japan’s style of apology, Merkel would be parading around with a swastika arm band and when called out, explain that she really is trying to apologize by wearing the Swastika and silently vows that Nazis will not rise again. But then she also says perhaps HItler had his reasons for his policies. “O it was the victors who re-wrote Germany’s war records, which is still controversial, really.” Or, “Jewish people, get over it.” And keep changing the text books to excuse Germany’s starting the war.

    • 99Pcent

      What about Mao’s corpse that is embalmed in China and worshiped like a god???

      • Jonathan Fields

        And that should be criticized as well. Saying “b-b-but Mao” doesn’t let Japan off the hook. Win T Pu is right. This kind of behavior from German politicians would spark incredible outrage. Japan basically gets away with it.

        The thing is, Abe and his ilk frame this as an effort to protect Japan’s dignity, but all they’re doing making Japan look worse and calling more attention historical warcrimes and misdeeds.

      • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

        Standing up to CCP thugs dont make you look worse.

      • Jonathan Fields

        No, it really does. If Japanese politicians were actually standing up to China and Korea’s attempts to politicize historical tragedies, then I’d agree with you. But they deny massacres, say racist things, threaten left-leaning academics at home, intimidate historians abroad, and then try to say the CCP is picking on Japan. How does that not make the country look bad?

      • CaptainAsia

        are you talking about the Chinese????

      • kension86

        Propaganda obviously.

        But since not everyone is chinese here, that’s only partially relevant at best.

  • Tangerine 18

    “I’m really thankful for being able to live in a peaceful, rich Japan,
    and again have come to feel I should do what I can do for world peace.”

    How about not visiting Yasukuni Shrine then? How could visiting the place possibly contribute to world peace?
    I wonder if it was suggested to Akie that she gets on message for Team Abe, and tones down that anti-nuclear, pro-LGBT stuff she was coming out with a couple of years ago? It wouldn’t surprise me at all.
    She may be from a fabulously wealthy family but I can’t help feeling slightly sorry for her – it can’t be much fun being married to a charm-free dullard like Shinzo Abe with no kids to occupy her time. Imagine having tea with the likes of Sono Ayako, Mori Yoshiro or the Nippon Kaigi crowd everyday! It’s no wonder she likes a drink, most people would in that situation.

  • Ahojanen

    Moral or history debate aside, I guess someone might thinking about taking advantage of (rather silly) media frenzy and obsession, plus nee-jerk reactions from China/Korea. A lower ranked AKB48 member would be featured top headline when she only visits the shrine. She would gain more votes (from netouyo?) at the upcoming “general election.” A strategic (cost-efficient) promotion…

  • Kiuri

    Since Mrs Abe is a private citizen, meaning she is neither a member of the cabinet of an MP, even the CCP cannot complain about her visit to Yasukuni, still less the US or any other government. This is not even newsworthy, really.

    As for her motive, since she seems to be a person with an independent mind, the decision to visit the shrine may perhaps entirely be her own. But still, one cannot but suspect PM Abe’s wish might be behind this. Either way, I must admire the way the couple work well as a “team.” This by the way is a departure from the traditional role of the “first lady” in Japan, in the sense that she is much more visible from the public eye than the wives of the part PMs. We can even say that this and other actions or Mrs Abe’s are an embodiment of the “increased roles of women in Japanese society” that PM Abe is pushing for.

  • http://space.time.you./ Voltario Earnst

    Whats all the fuss about. All these brainwashed Chinese and Koreans complaining about a private citizen visiting her family shrine. Don’t any of you go to your family’s church or prayer gathering? If She wants to go to Yasukuni it is her business, stay out of it. Do you pay her or does she owe you all something? If Chinese do something in their country they always say, “Stay out of our internal business.” Well, the same to you all, stay out of her business.
    Have a good day you miserable nosy parkers.

  • Eaton111

    As an American I think the Japanese people have the right to honor their war dead as they see fit, just as we Americans do. The Chinese honor Mao who killed more Chinese than the Japanese ever did. The South Koreans need to get over it as well, considering – (1) Many of their people fought in the Japanese army , (2) If it was not for Japan and then the U.S. South Koreans today would be ruled by the Kim family or some other Chinese puppet like they did for hundreds of years before the 20th century.

    The use of this shrine by the Chinese and South Koreans is the typical race baiting political nonsense that is the real cause of wars. The next war in Asia is not going to be started by Japan, but by China who have convinced themselves they are destined to rule Asia under the banner of Han superiority. In fact what the CCP is pushing sounds an awful lot like the Co-prosperity sphere that the Japanese militarist pushed back in the day…sort of ironic is it not. The CCP is now the new Japanese militarist they so complain about.

  • CaptainAsia

    So in a way Msss Abe just went to Church??? and the KOreans and chinese are not happy? Who has this right over anyone??? Mr Xi>>>>PLease stop praying to Mao in Tainnanmen Square/////OK?