Akie Abe pays visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine


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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kiuri

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

  • 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.

  • 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?