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[EDITORIALS]Koizumi and the shrine

Aug 15,2006
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pushed forward with his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. Although he said he wished to establish a future-oriented relationship with Korea and China, he went on to take an action that offended neighboring countries.
Mr. Koizumi’s argument that he went to the shrine to express condolences to the fallen soldiers who died during the war and that there should not be another war has once again proved that he is a populist who glorifies wars and is not a responsible politician.
The Yasukuni Shrine is filled with symbols, including memorials to Class A war criminals that glorify Japanese invasions.
It would have been better if Mr. Koizumi had confessed that he was a militarist or that it was his true feeling that he regrets Japan lost the war.
He insisted that his pilgrimage to the shrine is personal. But there cannot be a personal visit for a prime minister.
The fact that Japanese nationalists gathered at the shrine cheering his name proves it was an act that came from arrogant political motives.
Mr. Koizumi became Japan’s prime minister with pledges, including the promise of his visits to the shrine.
He even said yesterday that Aug. 15 was the appropriate date because criticism and opposition would remain unchanged whenever the visit to the shrine might take place.
Could one say that he is regretting the wars of invasion and colonial rule when he is taking provocative actions that offend neighboring countries on the morning of their liberation day? We should not forget his action that has mentally terrorized Koreans while ignoring unjustified history even after his stepdown from the premiership has been set.
We sincerely advise Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, who is the front-runner to succeed Mr. Koizumi, not to follow his predecessor’s behavior of psychological breakdown.
If Japan truly expects to build a mutually beneficial relationship with neighboring countries, it must cleanly square its wrongdoings of the past. It should not try to distort history.
Mr. Abe should be aware that Mr. Koizumi’s actions have damaged Japan’s national image as well as its national interests.
We hope the new Japanese prime minister will make efforts toward improving its friendly political relationship in a way that matches socio-cultural exchanges.


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