05 November 2014
AT THE start of the four-day autumn festival on Oct 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, without making a personal visit.
Perhaps Mr Abe was hoping that this gesture would appease Chinese leaders who will host him during the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing on Nov 10-11. This is unlikely to happen.
I had visited the Yasukuni Shrine a week earlier during a visit to Tokyo, in an effort 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 Japanese war dead since the Meiji Restoration, it is seen by many as a reminder of Japanese militarism during World War II. 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 Distinguished Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He was its dean until Nov 2.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 06/11/2014