11 November 2014
While the Yasukuni shrine memorialises Japan’s war dead its accompanying museum gives a revisionist view of Japan’s responsibility for the Second World War that is troubling.
At the start of the four-day autumn festival on 17 October 2014, 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 forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Beijing on 10-11 November. This is unlikely to happen.
I had visited the Yasukuni shrine a week earlier during a tripto 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 Japanese war dead since the Meiji Restoration, 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, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. This article first appeared in The Straits Times on 5 November 2014.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 12/11/2014