[EDITORIALS]Pretensions and excusesFollowing the visit by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, 195 Japanese legislators visited Yasukuni Shrine. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said that it was a “private visit” and made an excuse that the visit was like “the Christians having the freedom to go to church.” He also added as reasons for the visit, “paying homage to war dead,” “offering thanks for today’s Japan” and “out of a thought that there shouldn’t be wars.”
Let’s ask first: Is Yasukuni Shrine a simple religious place for paying homage to those perished during the war? Hideki Tojo, who is enshrined there, is not a soldier killed in a war. He was executed by hanging in 1948 as a Class A war criminal who provoked the Pacific War. Even many Japanese people do not consider the place as a simple religious facility. Otherwise, there would be no reason for 53 percent of people surveyed in a poll to respond that “Prime Minister Koizumi shouldn’t visit Yasukuni Shrine this year.”
In addition, the Japanese government claimed that the strong reaction from neighboring countries was “interference in Japan’s internal affairs.” So the Japanese government has acknowledged itself that the shrine visit was a political activity. In practice, the visits by the Japanese prime minister and legislators are not religious acts but political ones.
This is a highly calculated political action intended to beautify and revive Japan’s militarism. Comparing this with prayers offered at churches is an insult to Christianity as a whole. The claim that the visit was for the purpose of promoting peace also doesn’t make sense. The vivid wounds of invasion and war provoked by Japan can still be found here and there. This is no different from a chancellor of Germany paying tribute to the bust of Adolf Hitler and saying, “There shouldn’t be any wars.”
It is true that Japan has reflected on its past history, but the sincerity of its remorse has clearly faded as the visit to Yasukuni by Japanese politicians has become an annual event. Now, neighboring countries confuse the true intentions of the Japanese with their pretensions. Although they reflect on the wrongdoings of history in words, Japan’s neighbors suspect that the Japanese evaluate their colonial invasion and the Pacific War positively and even praise their old glory.
The illogical explanations of Foreign Minister Machimura is yet another insult to neighboring countries. If Japan cares for her neighboring countries even a little, Prime Minister Koizumi and his cabinet should make sincere apologies.