[EDITORIALS]Japan’s court slaps KoizumiThe Fukuoka District Court in Japan ruled yesterday that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi violated the Japanese constitution when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine in his official capacity.
We have strongly denounced his shrine visits. We welcome the ruling, along with many peace-loving Japanese people who want to maintain friendly relations with their neighboring countries. The ruling was based on the separation of religion and the state, but it still reflects the majority public sentiment in Japan.
We have a clear reason for objecting to Mr. Koizumi’s visit to the shrine. Paying respect to Japanese war criminals who committed crimes unsurpassed in human history is based on distorted historical perceptions. To do so in the capacity of the office of the prime minister of Japan, the leader of a responsible member of international society and a peace-loving nation, is unfathomable.
The criminals convicted of “Class A” crimes, crimes against peace, caused enormous losses of life and property in Japan and in the countries it made war against. They were public enemies of human history who were convicted at international trials after the war ended. For the Japanese prime minister to pay respect to them annually is a serious diplomatic issue.
If the German prime minister visits the tombs of Hitler and Goebbels every year, if he would say, “The evaluation of heroes is different in different countries,” or if he called neighboring nations’ criticism “interference in our domestic affairs,” he would be challenging the universal conscience of mankind.
Mr. Koizumi’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is markedly different from the private visits paid by the families and descendants of the war dead. We are not against all memorials to Japanese war dead. We only object to the distorted historical view of enshrining the Class A criminals with other war dead and the holding of regular memorial ceremonies by the prime minister.
Mr. Koizumi must remember that a healthy historical perception is the only way to strengthen friendship between Korea and Japan. It is also the only way for Japan to have political influence as strong as its economic power in the international arena.