I read Robert Yamamoto’s April 25 letter, “Yasukuni serves useful purpose,” with great interest. Japanese people — especially Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his Cabinet ministers and politicians in the Diet — should remember that Japan sent troops to the northeastern part of China early in the 1930s, established the country of Manchukuo, then started real fighting in July 1937.
Yamamoto mentions “thousands of brave men who gave their lives for causes they could not possibly have fully comprehended.” Yes, those war dead are victims of the country’s policy under the leaders of the period. War drives human beings insane.
Japanese soldiers killed civilians, children, women and old folks, and committed a countless number of atrocities. We must not forget the Nanjing Massacre of 1937. We must remember that Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army conducted cruel experiments on Chinese people. Of course, there were many kind-hearted Japanese soldier, but Japan had annexed Korea in 1910 and harshly ruled the Korean Peninsula until the end of World War II.
If Abe and his party’s members feel sorry for what Japan did in China, Korea and other parts of Asia, they should refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine. We Japanese should try to understand the deep-rooted feelings of our neighbors and honestly apologize for the damage and suffering caused in neighboring countries.
I agree with Yamamoto when he says, “Today, in an ever increasingly unstable world, we need government leaders to remember what could happen if they fail to make good decisions.” Just look at what happened in Iraq. But I don’t buy his negative view of those who criticize leaders for visiting Yasukuni.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.