07 November 2014
At the start of the four-day autumn festival on October 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni shrine, without making a personal visit. Perhaps Abe was hoping that this gesture would appease Chinese leaders who will host him during the forthcomingAsia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders Meeting in Beijing on November 10-11. This is unlikely to happen.
I had visited the Yasukuni shrine a week earlier during a trip to Tokyo to understand the reasons for the persistence of Japanese politicians in making annual visits on ritual holidays as well as the strong opposition of the Chinese government to such visits. While the shrine honours 2.5 million war dead, it is seen by many as a reminder of Japanese militarism during the second world war. Criticism is strongest in China, South Korea and Taiwan. I felt that like many other nations, Japan would want to honour those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their country.
…Barry Desker is a Distinguished Fellow and former Dean at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 07/11/2014