Activists sue over Abe’s ‘unconstitutional’ Yasukuni visit


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.”

  • phu

    My first reaction to this was to roll my eyes and get indignant, but while I think some of the details are a bit out there, perhaps this is the kind of thing the Japanese people should be doing to rein in their government’s antagonism.

    Of course, even if this worked, it would only address part of the problem… but then, not being able to solve every aspect of it yourself is not a good reason to simply do nothing.

  • zer0_0zor0

    Abe is a dangerous and duplicitous war mongering front man for Japanese reactionaries and people that don’t deserve their wealth and status in post-WWII Japanese society in the first place.

    He is the descendant of one of numerous war criminals whose status was reinstated by the CIA so they could support the Truman Doctrine. And here they are now fomenting conflict with China and supporting the West against Russia in Ukraine, etc., trumpeting support for an increasingly dysfunctional system in the West that seems to be dependent of creating a threat, having an enemy in order to distract the public from intractable problems that they can’t solve as ‘public servants’.

    Abe et al. have attempted to “reinterpret” the Constitution, which is an act that is the purview of the Supreme Court, so it would seem that they have overstepped their bounds and are directly threatening the system of checks and balances.

    Considering the levity of the reactionaries’ assaults on the Constitutional order in Japan, and stability in the Far East, engaging the judiciary is one way to attempt to preserve the Constitutional order and system of checks and balances.

    The suit is entirely apropos.

  • I think Abe should counter-sue these people for wasting the time of a head of state. Really, without knowing his intent, or having evidence of his intent, they are really wasting time & money.

    • phu

      I typically place very heavy emphasis on intent when judging people’s actions, but in this case, the results were completely obvious before the action was taken. There’s no reason to excuse it on the assumption that the intentions behind it might possibly not have been antagonistic to the Japanese people.

      But more generally: Abe, who is supposed to be a public servant, should sue constituents (because every Japanese is his constituent) who use legal means to oppose what they reasonably believe is behavior that’s contributing to major international tension?

      In a nation (like so many others right now) that’s constricting personal freedom more and more, you not only oppose the application of democracy, you go so far as to support the further suppression of citizens’ voice in government? There’s too much of this fascist thinking working its way into government already; you’re only contributing to the problem with this statement.