[EDITORIALS]Ending Yasukuni strifeOne U.S. congressman has proposed that if Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s prime minister, who is to visit America this month, wants to deliver a speech to the U.S. Congress, he must first make it clear that he will stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine.
Representative Henry J. Hyde made that request in a letter he sent to Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House of Representatives, last month.
Mr. Koizumi is to deliver a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress when he visits the United States, probably his last before retiring as prime minister in September.
The fact that Mr. Hyde, a prominent Republican and the person in charge of the foreign affairs committee of the House, wanted the prime minister to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine as a condition for addressing Congress is a serious matter.
Mr. Hyde reportedly says that Prime Minister Koizumi shows respect to such Class A war criminals as Tojo Hideki, who ordered the Pearl Harbor attack in World War II.
If he wants to speak where President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan while honoring Tojo, Mr. Hyde says, the reputation of the U.S. Congress reputation would be ruined.
Mr. Hyde probably also knows that if Japan continues to fight with its neighbors over this matter, it would do America’s national interests no good.
Prime Minister Koizumi cannot shrug off Mr. Hyde’s suggestion as the opinion of just one man.
Just in time, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Makoto Koga, who currently serves as the head of Nippon Izokukai, an association for bereaved family members of the nation’s war dead, announced that he plans to propose policy changes at the shrine that would include removing the plaques honoring the Class A war criminals now honored there.
Prime Minister Koizumi must accept that criticism about visiting the shrine from inside and outside the country and listen to the constructive proposals.
If it is true that he is planning to visit the shrine on August 15, the anniversary of the day the war ended, he must first abandon this plan. We believe that building a separate memorial facility is the most desirable answer.
This is the only way Japan could revive its bilateral Asian relationships, which are dead or dying because of the shrine visits, and normalize relations with neighboring countries.