Three ministers visit Yasukuni on surrender day anniversary; Abe refrains

Shrine trip made as nation marks 69 years since WWII surrender


Staff Writer

As Japan on Friday observed the 69th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, three Cabinet ministers made what they said were private visits to war-related Yasukuni Shrine.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, refrained from making another controversial official visit to the shrine on Friday to avoid blowing his chances of meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, who he hopes to speak with for the first time on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November in Beijing.

Xi has refused to hold a summit with Abe ever since the conservative prime minister made an official visit to Yasukuni in December 2012. State visits to the Shinto facility, which served as Japan’s spiritual backbone during the war, are viewed by Japan’s former enemies as attempts to glorify its wartime past.

Instead, Abe paid to donate a branch from a sacred Shinto “tamagushi” tree to the shrine via Lower House lawmaker and aide Koichi Hagiuda.

Hagiuda quoted Abe as saying he made the donation to “extend sincere condolences to the people” who fought and died for the state and to “pray for eternal peace.”

The three ministers — internal affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo and Keiji Furuya, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, and administrative reform minister Tomomi Inada — stressed that they went to the shrine in Tokyo as private citizens, not government officials.

“It’s only natural to extend sincere condolences to people who dedicated their lives to their country. I paid a visit to pray for peace,” Furuya told reporters at the shrine in Chiyoda Ward.

“This is a private act and it won’t cause any concern,” Shindo said.

Their comments again highlighted the divisiveness caused by the shrine, which is worshipped by Japan’s right-leaning politicians but shunned by many foreign leaders.

In Asia, especially in China and South Korea, the shrine is regarded as a symbol of Japan’s militarism from the 1930s and ’40s. But lawmakers like Shindo and Furuya say they go there to pray for the nation’s war dead, not the war criminals also enshrined there.

Aside from Shindo and Furuya, other Diet members who visited Yasukuni Friday morning included Shinjiro Koizumi, a son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who himself visited the shrine several times during his tenure from 2001 to 2006, causing an international row each time.

Jin Matsubara, Diet affairs chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, also paid a visit, as did a group of 83 Diet members led by Upper House politician Hidehisa Otsuji later in the day.

Meanwhile, the government held the annual ceremony for the war dead from the 1930s and ’40s at nearby Nippon Budokan Hall. The ceremony was attended by Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Abe.

The Imperial family stopped visiting Yasukuni in the 1970s.

“The peace and prosperity we are enjoying now are built upon the precious sacrifice of the war dead. We will never forget it even for a moment,” Abe said in a speech.

“We will humbly face history, etch lessons from it deep in our heart, and open the way to the future for today’s and tomorrow’s generations,” Abe said.

The rites at Nippon Budokan were attended by about 4,600 kin of service members and paramilitary personnel from the Imperial Japanese military.

Most were children and grandchildren, but 19 wives of dead military personnel attended. All were all 80 or older.

Yasukuni enshrines 2.47 million war dead, including Class-A war criminals from World War II, most notably wartime Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo.

Another two war crimes suspects died in prison before their verdicts were reached by the Allied tribunal but are also enshrined there.

Top Chinese leaders have refused to meet high-ranking Japanese officials, demanding that Abe pledge not to visit Yasukuni any more and that Japan change its stance over the Senkaku Islands and acknowledge that their sovereignty is in dispute.

Abe visited Yasukuni on Dec. 26, the first anniversary of the launch of his second administration in 2012, severely straining ties with China and South Korea.

Information from Kyodo added. Ayako Mie contributed to this story.

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  • Jamie Bakeridge

    And yet again the Japanese media submissively allows them to get away with the “private act” excuse without any questioning at all.

    • How_delightful

      Do Americans bury war criminals from Vietnam in different cemeteries to the soldiers of WW2?

      • Guest

        I wasn’t aware this was an article or discussion about America. Thanks for clearing that up for us!

      • Testerty

        Well, did Americans got defeated and surrendered? And were any American soldiers charged and judged as war criminals? So,can you name me one American war criminal in any cemeteries.

      • haneyr

        You are obviously the by product of being a test tube baby. Or you had parents who lived in caves and never allowed you to interact with human beings. I would at first believe you to be a mole living in Russia and have a inferiority complex about having a leader that can only pick on little girls and puppies. But then you are really a product of the tens of thousands of lives that died to allow you to make such stupid comments. So enjoy your freedoms bought with others blood and one day when you need someone to protect you from your own immaturity you will wish you had not been so naïve.

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  • haneyr

    when Japan acknowledges their war crimes and shows genuine remorse then maybe we can talk about their actions that led to them being the only nation having two atomic bombs dropped on them. You don’t see the Germans parading into the cemeteries of their war criminals every year, or having “peace” gatherings to try to show how much they “suffered”.

    • How_delightful

      Turf cannot apologise. Japan is turf.
      I cannot apologise for the actions of my great grandfather, not for the crimes of yours.
      Japan was on the list of places to steal when Australia was stolen, when New Zealand was Stolen, when the Americas were stolen, when India was taken over, and when South Africa was taken over and so many other countries such as Canada, Siam, the Philippines and Vietnam (French Indo-China).
      Japan did what it had to do to protect its national interests.
      As for the Germans; they are surrounded.
      Maybe when people see the Jewish crimes in Palestine in the same way as some people see the Germans of WW2, then maybe we can have an adult conversation.
      Until then, its all about creeping compensation lawyers.

      • left nut

        Only the immature use the “tough” do not apologize, line. No one is asking for you to apologize for your grandfathers crimes, only full unequivocal acknowledgement that Japan committed war crimes/atrocities.

        Question for you, as you stated, that you cannot apologize for your grandfathers crimes ( I agree that you shouldn’t, but you may end up apologizing for the denials… the irony is rich), then why are you and others so bent on revising/white washing/out right denying that these crimes ever happened? Do you not see the irony in this?

        It’s not that complicated and you should understand that, until this unequivocal acknowledgement happens… I would not have any expectations for empathy from anyone that is not Japanese in regards to the outcome of WW2.

        Stopping the denials and coming to the terms with yes, we did wrong and we full recognize our crimes (form a National and Educational standpoint). The global community would have nothing but respect for Japan and the Japanese. There is no shame in that, only true honor.

        Furthermore, the world does not view Japan as a liberator (as you tried to frame it), that is completely delusional. What Japan did was (for it’s own interest and not for the benefit of the respective native populations) far worse than any Western Colonial Powers (in that short period of time). They did nothing worth merit during those days and to glorify those actions while playing victim, only works against Japan and the Japanese.

      • David Christopher

        what would have been earths fate if japan had won?

      • haneyr

        What a stupid question. Try asking China, Korea, Philippines, Guam, and any of the other countries that were raped, pillaged, and plundered by the Japanese. If you are too ignorant to know how to do this then try asking one of the few remaining survivors of the death camps the Japanese setup for prisoners of war.

      • left nut

        In addition to ‘haneyr’ response… You also ignore how much the Japanese also suffered under the former Imperial/Fascist government during the end of the 1800’s and first half of the 1900’s. Mind you it was not as bad as to what China, Korea, Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Malay and etc, hand to go with.

        You obviously take for granted the luxury of being able to type out your opinion/comments on the internet… Do you really think, this would be possible if a Fascist regime was in power? if your answer is yes, you would be considered delusional…

      • tiger

        wrong. until then it’s all about big guns.

      • haneyr

        I totally agree with ‘left nut’. Grow up and become a responsible member of society and not a leach with no maturity.

    • David Christopher

      How much would we have suffered if Japan had won the war?

      • haneyr

        Since you are obviously only capable of copying and pasting your comments due to a lack of intelligence here is my reply again.
        What a stupid question. Try asking China, Korea, Philippines, Guam, and any of the other countries that were raped, pillaged, and plundered by the Japanese. If you are too ignorant to know how to do this then try asking one of the few remaining survivors of the death camps the Japanese setup for prisoners of war.

    • Jack Lawrence

      Yes the Germans do.

  • phu

    “This is a private act and it won’t cause any concern,” Shindo said.

    If you’re that stupid, you have no place in government. I don’t think he actually believes this, though; I think he simply doesn’t care, and that’s the belligerence that characterizes this entire administration.

    “The peace and prosperity we are enjoying now are built upon the precious sacrifice of the war dead. We will never forget it even for a moment,” Abe said in a speech.

    Actually, the (relative) peace and prosperity Japan is enjoying now exist DESPITE the best efforts of Japan’s war dead. I can understand paying homage to them for sacrificing their lives for their country (only because I’m willing to ignore the fact that those sacrifices were made in an attempt to dominate and subjugate the rest of Asia, if not the rest of the world), but to suggest that these people’s deaths had anything to do with establishing peace is not just wrong, it’s mind-bogglingly backwards.

    • Ron NJ

      More like their peace and prosperity is built on the precious sacrifice of the American taxpayer (despite the best efforts of Japan’s war dead, as you have poignantly pointed out) since without the security treaty they’d have to have spent untold trillions (quadrillions even?) of yen to meet their defense requirements from 1945 to now. That’s a whole lot of money that they were instead free to spend on things like bolstering the economy, rebuilding infrastructure, social welfare programs, and so on.

      Also big ups to America for preventing Japan from being split into a Communtst North/Democratic South like Korea! Does anyone seriously think the Russians were just going to stop at the Kuril Islands/South Sakhalin? Yet another scarily possible prospect of a land invasion of the home islands that everyone just kind of decides to ignore.

      • phu

        Things definitely could have turned out worse, though there obviously are still problems stemming from the way Japan was reorganized after the war.

        I think it’s obvious that the ongoing blame game for… pretty much everything… in politics is painfully counterproductive. However: This particular statement is, to me, the clearest nationalistic application of historical revisionism that’s come out yet. It doesn’t attempt to avoid facts. Instead, it cleverly attempts to reframe something awful as something wonderful for the sake of Japanese pride (which communicates to votes and policy support, the real goal behind pretty much every one of Abe’s moves, good or bad).

  • Jack Lawrence

    I have been this memorial and the site is as respectful and somber as Arlington, Normandy or any of thousand such sites around the world. The “war criminals” are enshrined, inside the memorial, in a part we were not allowed to enter. Some of those inside were pretty much bureaucrats that carried out tasks as part of their jobs. Others were truly criminals like Bedford Forest, Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, Bomber Harris etc.
    Let us not be so sanctimonious.

    • haneyr

      Sanctimonious???? You sound like so many of the kids that venture off to Japan as under achieving ‘language teachers’ and buy into the local folk lore of their ‘heros’ and become an uneducated apologist. More often than not to impress your little students with how enlightened you are. Unfortunately that is not what they are really thinking about you. But if this does not apply to you then you may want to go and support the memorial setup for the Khmer Rouge and Stalin.

      • Jack Lawrence

        I am 67 years old.
        I really do not care a whit about your thoughts on me.

      • phu

        It’s impossible to take you seriously when everything you post is ad hominem. Oh, you don’t like what I say or what I say it? You must be a language teacher (and they’re all underachievers and all buy into apologism).

        Posts like this are why it’s impossible to have a rational discussion on The Interwebs: Anyone can get their hands on a keyboard, and unfortunately, many people are happy to use them without giving half a thought to the vacant assumptions and generalizations they spread.

  • james lee

    This is such a shame on Japan as not feel sorry for their war crimes, like Nazi , that still going to Yasukui for praising for what they have done. World should let Japan know that way they are acting is not acceptable for humanity in this world.

  • David Christopher

    What would have been earth’s fate had japan won, or not been stopped?

    • haneyr

      You had to cut and paste this three times to get any attention to your drivel?

    • Jack Lawrence

      Nothing. Japan just wanted to dominate east Asia.