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A night out at Yasukuni Shrine

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Women look at paper lanterns during the annual Mitama festival at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Friday night. About 3,000 paper lanterns are lit to comfort the souls of dead during the annual festival at the shrine where more than 2.4 million war dead are enshrined.

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So much anger in these comments... Japan has so many good things to offer, I don't understand why people do nothing but criticize it...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

When PM Noda was a Finance Minister in 2005, the opposition asked about it and he stated "People who have been named class A war criminals are not war criminals at all, this is why the logic to not visit over the grounds that they are war criminals is already ignored". This is the view from todays head of Japan and was elected as their PM. I guess Japan is no Germany, if you still don't believe it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Instead of "buried" I meant to say "memorialized"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Yasukuni only commemorated the lives of those who gave their lives in furtherance of their duty, then no other country has the right to criticize its raisons d'être.

But I question whether some who are buried there actually can be said to have given their lives for their country. Some, I would argue, instead made everyone else give their lives for unjust reasons and should not be remembered alongside all the others.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The point which you studiously miss is that the war criminals convicted by a court and hanged are not "soldiers that died in wars".

I'm quite aware that the above was what started the controversy among the domestic population but I still don't get why it would be controversial to China or Korea when B/C criminals were enshrined in as early as 1959.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

WilliB

Thanks for pointing out my failure include that issue--it was an oversight. I was trying to present the religious aspect of the ceremony in a positive light, and contrast that with the historical background, of which you have indicated one of the most controversial aspects that I omitted due to waning powers of concentration late at night and an already long post.

You have also called my attention to yet another typo or editing error, as the phrase should have read: This festival is a ceremony to recognize the sacrifice of the soldiers that have died in wars and console their spirits".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ubiqwit:

" This festival is a ceremony to recognize the sacrifice the spirits of soldiers that have died in the wars "

The point which you studiously miss is that the war criminals convicted by a court and hanged are not "soldiers that died in wars".

Without that issue, Yasukuni would be a lot less controversial.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't have any problems with this type of festival as a religious ceremony per se, but the historical context is anything but simple, and involves a symbol that has been appropriated as a rallying point for an extreme form of nationalism with an inflammatory religious component.

That's my point. Any historical context, especially the blanket "bad" statement by Thomas, is just too narrow minded.

As for the symbol of "extreme form of nationalism", I beg to differ in that it became that way simply because China started to complain about it in 1985 who I believe made it their rallying point of their own country's nationalism. (followed by Korea in mid 1990's).

There is a common misconception that the presence of extreme right wingers in Yasukuni were there all the time when in fact, it was just a recent development. Prior to that, the Prime Ministers of Japan were able to visit there (Spring/Fall festivals) annually without disturbance because it was a customary thing to do. Case in point, three Prime Ministers visited a grand total of 21 times between 1979 and 1985. As you know, the enshrinement of Class A became publicly known in 1979.

In other words, post war Yasukuni in of itself, and the enshrinement of Class A war criminals were never a "political issue" from an international standpoint. The other countries (namely China and Korea) just decided to make it one, hence the presence of Japanese right wingers.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Nigelboy

Yes, the thread is kind of all over the place, and there are too many unrelated tangents.

This festival is a ceremony to recognize the sacrifice the spirits of soldiers that have died in the wars Japan had fought starting with the Meiji Restoration.

In one sense, it represents an institution that was established during the violent movement to separate Buddhism and Shinto and establish Shinto as the state religion. The desecrated temples, melted temple bells down to make cannons, forced Buddhist monks to become Shinto priests, etc.

I don't have any problems with this type of festival as a religious ceremony per se, but the historical context is anything but simple, and involves a symbol that has been appropriated as a rallying point for an extreme form of nationalism with an inflammatory religious component.

That is why there are people from Taiwan and Korea who object to their family members being enshrined at Yasukuni-jinja. Perhaps they feel that there is a contradiction in holding a ceremony for consoling souls of soldiers killed in war at a site associated with militant nationalism. I don't know, but it remains a highly controversial site.

And Yasukuni's association with extreme nationalism is in stark contrast with the short-lived Taisho Democracy you mention. But the Taisho progressives were a group of internationalist whose betrayal by Japan's then long-term ally, Great Britain, was the death knell of internationalism in Japan, and fueled the rise of extreme nationalist and fascism under the banner of State Shinto. This shrine is at the forefront of shrines associated with State Shinto, so even festivals like this continue to cause controversy.

As for the book I mentioned, the author is one of the few Western scholars whose books have been translated into Japanese, and he has received an award from the emperor along the lines of an 'order of culture' or something like that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Please stay on topic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ubikwit,

With all due respect, please follow the thread. And finally, you're the last person I ask about Japanese history when you cite some western authors.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@nigelboy

obviously you haven't done you're reading, matey.

Extremists? Would one call Meiji Ishin bad? Would one call Taisho Democracy bad?

On the first point, the issues (Meiji Ishin) at hand are far to complex for a simple answer. On the second point you raised, definitely not, but is was the British betrayal of its ally in Japan that directly resulted in the loss of legitamcy of Taisho Democracy.

In case you are genuinely not informed, then read Marius Jansen's book,

"Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If I recall, you stated the period of Empire of Japan. And now you conveniently swithc goal post with "beginning of Showa Period". How convenient.

Uh, what. You do realize that the Showa period and the Taisho period were overall quite different, don't you? It was in general the Showa period that started most of the ultranationalist, fascist, expansionist, supremacist, etc, policies.

I just don't like the propanganda that the Allieds spoon fed to the masses which is "Good triumphed over Evil." It's easily "bought" by the masses simply because, in general, people are lazy to look up the facts.

Of course any war is not that simple or black and white. But overall, I would say that the fascist and supremacist policies of the Nazis and the Empire of Japan were evil, just as I would say that neo-Nazis or KKKs are evil. Of course this doesn't absolve the fire bombings or the atomic bombings, etc.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

All readers back on topic please. The topic is the Mitama festival at Yasukuni Shrine.

That was before the Showa period, so I'm not sure how that is relevant to the current discussion. The Taisho period was the complete opposite of the Showa period which descended Japan into fascism. So yes, the Taisho period was good and all, but then all hell broke loose when the fascists took Japan into the Showa period.

If I recall, you stated the period of Empire of Japan. And now you conveniently swithc goal post with "beginning of Showa Period". How convenient.

But according to you, they are neither good or bad, just in different time period.

I just don't like the propanganda that the Allieds spoon fed to the masses which is "Good triumphed over Evil." It's easily "bought" by the masses simply because, in general, people are lazy to look up the facts.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Extremists? Would one call Meiji Ishin bad? Would one call Taisho Democracy bad?

That was before the Showa period, so I'm not sure how that is relevant to the current discussion. The Taisho period was the complete opposite of the Showa period which descended Japan into fascism. So yes, the Taisho period was good and all, but then all hell broke loose when the fascists took Japan into the Showa period.

.....Of course, . . . we were aware of the bombings and the burnings of Tokyo and Yokohama and other big cities. It was horrible that we went there for the purpose of vindicating the laws of war, and yet saw every day how the allies had violated them dreadfully..... Judge Rolling, IMFTE

But according to you, they are neither good or bad, just in different time period.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

**Anyhow remember the vast majority of the Japanese war dead were not criminals. Please look at this as comfort to the non criminals. It is a very pretty sight.

Indeed. The same can be said for ALL of out countries and the former soldiers who fought for their freedom and whatnot. If anything, the Japan should be outrage that young men and women have their reps tarnished and memory scorned BECAUSE they are housed with war criminal. How disrespectful is that to THEM?

If Japan got rid of the names of these people, no one would have an issue with the place. However, jackasses and stubbornness...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I didn't call names, I said only certain extremists will agree with that view...

Extremists? Would one call Meiji Ishin bad? Would one call Taisho Democracy bad? The problem again, is that you are basing your own judgment based on the latter period especially during the period where the domestic population was suffering as a result of the losing war.

This kind of... periodic relativism and wriggling out of responsibilities are what the right-wingers in Japan excel at... So in your view, the atombic bombings were neither good or bad? Then why do the right-wingers complain about the atomic bombings, calling America bad and evil, when these things are all relative to its period, according to them?

Right wingers don't complain about atomic bombings. Do you see right wingers in Hiroshima Peace Memoria Park? When a former Defense Minister Kyuma, stated that dropping of atomic bombing by U.S. "could not be helped" he was labeled as a right winger by the left wing groups which resulted in his resignation. Tamogami stated that those who line up at the Park are nothing but "left wingers" who did not experience the bombings.

Because they have commited a grave crime against humanity

.....Of course, . . . we were aware of the bombings and the burnings of Tokyo and Yokohama and other big cities. It was horrible that we went there for the purpose of vindicating the laws of war, and yet saw every day how the allies had violated them dreadfully..... Judge Rolling, IMFTE

It's it any wonder that the judicial procedure of the London Charter during that time is the classic textbook of "what not to do"? Is it any wonder that this trial is labeled "victor's Justice"?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Never said good or bad. In any period, there are good times and bad. Simply labeling them is just premature. Back to name calling again..sigh

I didn't call names, I said only certain extremists will agree with that view... Anyway, I don't think that you can possibly call the Empire of Japan neutral. The Empire of Japan did in fact cause suffering to almost everyone involved. It's a pretty simple question: were they overall good or evil? Did they overall do more good or more harm as a whole? Did they serve a cause and an ideal that was overall good for humanity? Or bad for humanity?

In any period, there are good times and bad.

This kind of... periodic relativism and wriggling out of responsibilities are what the right-wingers in Japan excel at... So in your view, the atombic bombings were neither good or bad? Then why do the right-wingers complain about the atomic bombings, calling America bad and evil, when these things are all relative to its period, according to them?

Charged with ex post facto law? Name calling again.. sigh

Did they not commit crimes against humanity? History points to yes.

And you're comparing them to Hitler because....?

Because they have commited a grave crime against humanity. Because they have ordered mass genocide/suicides in the name of the Emperor. Because they have caused endless suffering to millions of people. Because they have ordered inhumane experiments in the name of the Emperor, etc etc.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Seriously? So you're saying that the Empire of Japan was good for Japan? Sorry but nobody but the right-wing extremist nuts will agree with that view.

Never said good or bad. In any period, there are good times and bad. Simply labeling them is just premature. Back to name calling again..sigh

They were not "so-called" criminals, they were in fact criminals. I guess you're too much of a right-wing fanatic to recognize that. Good grief...

Charged with ex post facto law? Name calling again.. sigh

People don't do the same thing to Hitler, and these people were as evil as Hitler.

And you're comparing them to Hitler because....?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

nigelboy

I disagree. I know it was a program by the ocuppying forces (GHQ, CIE) to instill those thoughts within the population with some success but judging the whole 58 year period based on the last 4 years seems premature.

Seriously? So you're saying that the Empire of Japan was good for Japan? Sorry but nobody but the right-wing extremist nuts will agree with that view.

You make it sound as though those so-called criminals don't even deserve to have a grave. You make it sound as though their ashes should be disposed without giving them to the surviving family members. Perhaps they should of been prosecuted on the Showa Emperor's birthday. Perhaps they should of been executed on the current Emperor's birthday.

They were not "so-called" criminals, they were in fact criminals. I guess you're too much of a right-wing fanatic to recognize that. Good grief...

People don't do the same thing to Hitler, and these people were as evil as Hitler. Hitler didn't have a grave, he was just buried at a secret site and even then his burial site was destroyed.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Like I said, that's the exact opposite of what I have said. Even from the Japanese viewpoint the Empire of Japan were evil and bad, even to themselves do you not agree?

I disagree. I know it was a program by the ocuppying forces (GHQ, CIE) to instill those thoughts within the population with some success but judging the whole 58 year period based on the last 4 years seems premature.

So why are these war criminals who started, lead and served for an evil empire, in the Yasukuni Shrine? Is Japan such a country that reveres and admires criminals who makes society worse? I sure hope not.

Perhpas Shinto 101 is in order here. Something to do with "spirits", "soothing", "purification" and what not.

You make it sound as though those so-called criminals don't even deserve to have a grave. You make it sound as though their ashes should be disposed without giving them to the surviving family members. Perhaps they should of been prosecuted on the Showa Emperor's birthday. Perhaps they should of been executed on the current Emperor's birthday.

Perhaps those are the reasons that Yasukuni believes that Japan was still at war with the U.S. during that time.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

The Shinto religion was artificially modified by the imperial Japanese government to support ultra-nationalism and Japanese colonialism. The Shinto Shrine of Yasukuni is by definition a profoundly political site (even before the executed war criminals were included there, and the revisionist war museum was built).

The people who justifiy Yasukuni should also note that there are hundreds of thousands of Japanese Christian war dead whose families never wanted them to be enshrined in this Shinto monument. The Japanese governmemt however has consistently refused all the numerous protests by Japanese Christians against this.

Pretty pictures of lanterns at Yasukuni do not change the fact that this is a political site, and it does not represent the type of politics that is acceptable.

There are other sites in Japan which honor the war dead, without the political content. Why don´t we get pretty pictures from them?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So are you not going to argue with any other points? Do you not agree that the Empire of Japan were bad and evil? Why is Hideki Tojo in the shrine? Why did they let the right-wingers "take over" the shrine?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Thomas chan, it is NOT public property. I suggest learning some history. You can thank the American Shogun, may God look after his soul. He is the true reason behind 67 years of peace. Losing alone is not enough.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

nigelboy

Definitely. As someone alluded to previously, a hero in your country is a despised enemy of another country. Just because other nations don't complain about other war memorial sites or holidays (Veterans Day) does not mean the soldiers who are honored there are "heroes" everywhere throughout the world. The other nations are adult enough to ignore or accept it for they too know that their war dead soldiers are viewed the same way and that honoring them in your own country is a natural thing to do.

Like I said, that's the exact opposite of what I have said. Even from the Japanese viewpoint the Empire of Japan were evil and bad, even to themselves do you not agree?

So why are these war criminals who started, lead and served for an evil empire, in the Yasukuni Shrine? Is Japan such a country that reveres and admires criminals who makes society worse? I sure hope not.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

YuriOtani

Thomas, rebel with what? Kitchen knifes and wooden swords? There is a reason weapons are not allowed in civilian hands.

Use non-violent resistance. The anti-Nazi resistance movements did it. Of course they were executed, but now they are remembered as heroes who stood against the Nazis. You yourself have said that the Imperial Japan were trash, so surely you would agree that rebelling against the Empire of Japan were a good thing? And fighting for them, bad?

Unlike Europe freedom of religion is a guarantee. It is private property and once the state tells them to do this, how about shutting down all of the Christian churches for an encore?

So who owns the place? I guess it's public property so it's owned collectively by the Japanese citizens. So why isn't anyone complaining, or at least not enough people are? Why aren't people in Japan protesting about the war criminals and Hideki Tojo being in the Yasukuni Shrine? Do you not agree that the presence of those war criminals defile the shrine? How could they have let the shrine be "taken over" by the right-wingers? Sure if a church started revering Hitler for being a good Christian, then people would complain about it.

Thomas my friend, this is an internal matter to Japan. If you do not like it express it with your vote.

Okay, so why aren't the Japanese people doing anything about it? Besides it's an international matter since it affects Japan's relations with the other countries. Imagine if Germany had done this with the Nazis and Hitler. There would be mass protests all over the world and people would trash on Germany for it.

If the Americans remove their war criminals from Arlington, government property than Japan might follow.

That's just laughable. The Germans did it but the Japanese aren't following Germany.

If just winning a war makes actions right, then if the Imperials had won (by your thinking) then anything they did was right. Read closely, Winning does not make right.

That's the exact opposite of what I have said. I didn't say that the Empire of Japan were wrong just because the Allies had won, I said they were wrong on the basis that they had made everyone miserable, including the Japanese citizens themselves, in the process.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Thomas, rebel with what? Kitchen knifes and wooden swords? There is a reason weapons are not allowed in civilian hands. I can care less about what China and Korea think! Read closely, there are no remains of criminals there and it is not a part of the government. Unlike Europe freedom of religion is a guarantee. It is private property and once the state tells them to do this, how about shutting down all of the Christian churches for an encore? Thomas my friend, this is an internal matter to Japan. If you do not like it express it with your vote.

If the Americans remove their war criminals from Arlington, government property than Japan might follow. In the meantime enjoy the lanterns, the festive spirit etc. I need to check and see if my lost cousins are on the list. You know what you write is not right. Please review my messages. If just winning a war makes actions right, then if the Imperials had won (by your thinking) then anything they did was right. Read closely, Winning does not make right.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Lanterns are very nice during the Mitama festival but the best time to go is during the spring time where they have some of the best collection of cherry blossom.

In any case,

Do I say this just because the Allies had won?

Definitely. As someone alluded to previously, a hero in your country is a despised enemy of another country. Just because other nations don't complain about other war memorial sites or holidays (Veterans Day) does not mean the soldiers who are honored there are "heroes" everywhere throughout the world. The other nations are adult enough to ignore or accept it for they too know that their war dead soldiers are viewed the same way and that honoring them in your own country is a natural thing to do.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Seiharinokaze

To me those lanterns seem to be lit for silently complaining to the emperor about losing their loved ones.

Not if the Emperor is actually included in one of those lanterns...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

YuriOtani

Most of the Japanese soldiers did not want to fight.

Most of the Japanese people supported the war. If they did not want to fight then they should have rebelled against the Empire of Japan.

Anyhow remember the vast majority of the Japanese war dead were not criminals. Please look at this as comfort to the non criminals. It is a very pretty sight.

Then they should actually remove the war criminals, including Hideki Tojo for supposedly being a "Martyr of Showa".

Anyway the Yasukuni Shrine says:

Dedicated to those who lost their lives while serving Japan (doesn't include the civilians etc who were killed during the war) As a general rule, the enshrined are limited to military personnel who were killed while serving Japan during armed conflicts. Civilians who were killed during a war are not included, apart from a handful of exceptions.

I think that this sounds somehow strange. Sure, all the soldiers who served Empire of Japan were not war criminals. All the soldiers who served Empire of Japan were not guilty, or even wanted to serve the Empire. But they still served in the wrong side of the war.

Do I say this just because the Allies had won? No. I think we can all agree that the Nazis and the Imperial Japan that ruled with an iron fist made everyone, including their own citizens, miserable. What the Nazis and EoJ had done were disastrous to everyone involved. German and Japanese people are much happier now than during the Nazi or EoJ rule.

All of these soldiers who served the Empire of Japan and fought for them made everyone miserable, including their own citizens. Fighting for EoJ meant making people more miserable. The only right thing to do was to rebel against EoJ. So I would say that they were not the victims of war, but aggressors. They fought in the wrong side of the war.

Okay, so you can still respect the dead, but you should at least remove the war criminals, including Hideko Tojo. If this was outside of Japan, then there would be mass protests claiming that those war criminals be removed.

Saying that the right-wingers forcibly took over the shrine is just playing the victim. If they did take over the shrine and defiled the shrine with war criminals, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

To me those lanterns seem to be lit for silently complaining to the emperor about losing their loved ones.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Willem:

" If you can read, then you know that's not the case. "

That is precisely the case, which is why Yasukuni Shrine is so hugely controversial in Japan.

There are other memorials that do without the revisionist politics, like e.g. the Tokyo Metropolitan war memorial in Chidorigafuji, and they are completely uncontroversial.

You really should read up on the issue.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lives cannot be recovered once lost. So talking about 'demons of the past' is pointless. There's a lot of people who need to learn that. You don't even have to pay respect for anything that's happend if you ask me. You should at least know what happend en let it go, move on. You don't need anyone else to do the same or apologize or whatever because you're an independent person and your feelings certainly don't cling to any other persons actions. Only you can make you feel better. The best revenge is forgiveness. I speak from experience here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Oh, but you would, if Germany enshrined the Nuremberg war criminals at a shrine which also connected to a holocaust-denying museum. Would you not? Do tell us.

If you can read, then you know that's not the case.

Since you forget, I will remind you. Imperial Japan did not suffer the war, she prosecuted it.

You say that's why everyone who has died isn't a victim? sure... Right or wrong, win or lose, if you die, your a victim.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Willem:

" We, the Dutch people, are not complaining every year about Germany either. "

Oh, but you would, if Germany enshrined the Nuremberg war criminals at a shrine which also connected to a holocaust-denying museum. Would you not? Do tell us.

There is of course nothing wrong with honoring war dead, but the context makes all the difference.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Most of the Japanese soldiers did not want to fight.

Yes yes, they were just following orders.

The truth of the matter is quite the opposite. The war was wildly popular in Japan before Japan started to lose it.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Nonsense. It's always westeners that start talking about the matter.

The Chinese and Koreans certainly have a lot to say about the matter. As do many of the other victims of Imperial Japan throughout South East Asia.

As do many Japanese themselves.

Oops.

What in gods name are they doing wrong with paying respect to the victims?!

Since you forget, I will remind you. Imperial Japan did not suffer the war, she prosecuted it.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Where Yasukuni is concerned, Japan's imperialism is always the topic. Japan has chosen to make it thus.

Nonsense. It's always westeners that start talking about the matter.

We'd all love to. Just as soon as Japan does, then we can too.

What in gods name are they doing wrong with paying respect to the victims?! As gokai_wo_maneku said; "All nations have the right and duty to pay respects to soldiers who died for their country. This is an equal truth for both the victor nation and the loser nation." Do you guys want Japan to tear down all the graves of those 'war criminals' or something?! Nothing could be more disrespectful than that. Criminals are still human. Or do you want Japan begging for forgiveness while America's the one who dropped two atomic bombs on their heads?! You guys need a reality check..

2 ( +4 / -2 )

just get over it.

We'd all love to. Just as soon as Japan does, then we can too.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

oops, another shochu fueled mid-stream on-the-fly sentence restruction error...

...the always state-sanctioned combination of religion and militarism.

should have been something like:

"..ever present threat of state-sanctioned promotion of religion and militarism"

That is one reason we have separation of religion and the state...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's summer and it's beautiful, just get over it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@jessebaybay

I thought that you post on WWII was thoughtful and insightful, and I'm sure that there are many people that would benefit from exposure to a little of the universal camaraderie you've shown there with respect to the Japanese you mention feeling ashamed.

Nonetheless, there is a big picture issue at stake here that is easily lost in the lanterns, sort of like you can't see the forest for the trees scenario.

And that issue relates to the always state-sanctioned combination of religion and militarism.

That, I would imagine, is the reason that the emperor doesn't visit this particular shrine, even though it was constructed to honor the soldiers that died during the Meiji Restoration.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Am happy the old Imperial government is in the garbage can of history. My mum calls them bad names. What people call right wing now are jokes, some men riding around in black vans getting drunk. You can hear their surd talk. Drunk is not a regional dialect. The old ones were very different animals.

Anyhow again it looks so very pretty. Talked with my mum and she said some of my cousins from the mainland fought in the war. Some of my cousins were in construction battalions and some served in the war and died. They died and out of the war Japan became a nation where people want to live. Need to visit there and see if my cousins names are on the list.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The festival itself is kind of fun & the food stalls had some tasty treats for us when we were there last night.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Keep in mind that the Class-A war criminals were enshrined in 1978, fully thirty three years after the end of the war. It was a political travesty, and one which the Emperor himself recognized for what it was. It makes me wonder why the extreme right-wingers, who supposedly revere the Emperor, didn't follow his lead.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

ps. I think the two girls in the picture are really pretty :D

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's such a nice shrine, but also very crowded most of the time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think it is a very beautiful sight. The Shrine was constructed long before the class A criminals were "transferred" to it. Most of the Japanese soldiers did not want to fight. The newsreel footage was propaganda. The conscripts were treated very badly and were often killed by their own to maintain "discipline".

Anyhow remember the vast majority of the Japanese war dead were not criminals. Please look at this as comfort to the non criminals. It is a very pretty sight.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Please anyone: Details about the duration of this display would be appreciated. I'd love to see it.

Mitama festival at Yasukuni Shrine: July 13-16

http://www.yasukuni.or.jp/english/index.html?mode=skip

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't see anything wrong with comforting the souls of the dead, no matter where you do it. The picture is very pretty.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Please anyone: Details about the duration of this display would be appreciated. I'd love to see it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's a good photograph - thanks for sharing, JT.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Stay on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I ❤ Mitama-matsuri

1 ( +2 / -1 )

gokai_wo_maneku... please tell me you aren't blaming Britain for Japan's Imperialist ambitions in the late 19th and early 20th century?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Of the 2,466,532 people contained in the shrine's Book of Souls, 1,068 were convicted of war crimes by a post World War II court. Of those, 14 are convicted Class A war criminals ("crime against peace").

On 17 October 1978, 14 Class A war criminals (convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East), including Hideki Tōjō, were enshrined as "Martyrs of Shōwa" (昭和殉難者 Shōwa junnansha), ostensibly because they were on the war dead registry.

Okay, so the guy who is responsible for making everyone, including the Japanese citizens themselves miserable, is considered as a "Martyr" of Showa. That's just ridiculous. Imagine if Hitler was enshrined as a "Martyr of Nazi". You would be labeled as a freaking Neo-Nazi if anyone had done that! So why is everyone giving Japan a free pass over this? This is just ridiculous beyond words.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Sorry, rather my limited English skill.

It was just my attempt at humor. I certainly meant no offense with it. In my opinion, you make your opinions quite clear. While Yasukuni is a complicated issue for many, I enjoyed this photo very much. It is an all the more interesting a photo because it could have been taken anywhere. If it had been taken pretty much anywhere else, the discussion would be mostly positive. I find that kind of irony quite fascinating. As such I think this is a great photo of the day.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

We hear that thsi is a slemn place for remeembering and respecting and the birds in the photo look like they are happily sightseeing.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sorry, rather my limited English skill. True, the emperor system has a karma of war from ancient times. Most of his subjects were those who were subjugated and not necessarily happy with him. Yasukuni often reminds me of such unquiet souls.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it is within the right of the Yasukuni shrine to warship anything it decides to enshrine

Oops! Talk about Freudian slips.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Anyway the Yasukuni shrine is a right-wing propaganda site!

At least we can agree on this Thomas, and let's hope this much attention falls on how other people across the political spectrum remember the war dead.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

NeoJamal

Why would they accept? will you threaten them with nuclear weapons? What say you? Should I learn how to type before joining in the conversation?

I'm not really sure what you're trying to say, but to be honest their response would not be much of a concern to me. Anyway Patty's argument is something that is quite irrelevant to the discussion. I'm not really concerned with what the people's response may be, you see...

Anyway the Yasukuni shrine is a right-wing propaganda site!

-3 ( +2 / -6 )

After the execution of the seven Class A War Criminals, their bodies were sent to Yokohama for cremation and their ashes were immediately dumped into the Pacific Ocean as ordered by General MacArthur.

Well he certainly didn't do his homework on Shinto did he?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

After the execution of the seven Class A War Criminals, their bodies were sent to Yokohama for cremation and their ashes were immediately dumped into the Pacific Ocean as ordered by General MacArthur.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

But don't get me wrong, I am no friend to right-wing nutjobs but I respect their right to free speech. Yasukuni Shrine is a religious site on private land. Any calls for state sanctions against this shrine will ironically evoke state control of Shinto that existed before the end of the war.

So, who can we turn to protect our children from the uyoku lies? the Communists may be?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In terms of freedom of faith, it is within the right of the Yasukuni shrine to warship anything it decides to enshrine. No external power can meddle. If you do not sympathize with the shrine, just keep away. Another point is it's a matter of souls. Those who do not believe in souls should not join the talk of what concerns souls. Let believers in souls talk and decide on how/where they should rest in the invisible realm.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The beauty on the outside disguises the ugly nature of the inside.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So basically, go to war or go to jail, and possibly be tortured or killed. I'm sure that most of us wouldn't have the balls to defy the authority like that especially during Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan, but for those who did, why are they not remembered and honored for their bravely? In Germany at least, they are remembered and honored.

That's actually ironic because most of the Japanese who opposed the invasion of China and the war against the US were locked up as Communists by SCAP shortly after the war and post-war Japan subserviently accept their conquering master's position 'till this day.

The written content on the walls of Yasukuni Shrine can be erased until the wood and stone appear bright as day. Still people from all walks of life will visit it and remember the dead in their own way.

patty cake champion wrote:

I'm sure you would have loved to tell them, "I'm sorry, we cannot remember your actions and experiences apart from atrocities because you served an evil regime," right in their faces

Thomas Anderson replied:

I probably would, and they would have to accept that.

Why would they accept? will you threaten them with nuclear weapons?

What say you? Should I learn how to type before joining in the conversation?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sir_Edgar

In fact, their homepage used to make claims that Japan was "forced" into World War II and lambasted the United States for dropping atomic bombs on Japan. It focused on describing Japan as a "victim" and doesn't make any references to any regret for past aggression. I see now that they've removed that content, but it just goes to show you what Yasukuni Shrine's main purpose is: right-wing propaganda in the disguise of a memorial.

Too true, and to say that the Yashukuni shrine is just place with a bunch of pretty lanterns for honoring the war heroes is just kidding themselves.

-5 ( +3 / -7 )

Yes "the victor writes the history" and all that, but Japan and Germany (and other "Axis" countries), being totalitarian states, were undoubtedly in the wrong.These so-called "war heroes" fought for the wrong war, and they even lost.

You are setting a bad precedent that's insensitive now, especially to US servicemen who served in Iraq. I do not agree that just because you took part in an war of aggression that was started by a national leader(s) who were not democratically elected, you cannot be respected and honored for your sacrifice. It's worse for Japan and Germany because most of the servicemen were conscripted to serve in WWII. Too bad that most of those who served and their families are dead by now, because I'm sure you would have loved to tell them, "I'm sorry, we cannot remember your actions and experiences apart from atrocities because you served an evil regime," right in their faces. Whether or not most of the posters here who hail from the victorious Allied powers like it, Japan will attempt to remember everything about their veterans through Yasukuni, not just the nasty parts that the Allies only care about.

One thing is very clear: Yasukuni Shrine is NOT like Arlington National Cemetery. Its "museum" is a propaganda machine that distorts history. In fact, their homepage used to make claims that Japan was "forced" into World War II and lambasted the United States for dropping atomic bombs on Japan. It focused on describing Japan as a "victim" and doesn't make any references to any regret for past aggression. I see now that they've removed that content, but it just goes to show you what Yasukuni Shrine's main purpose is: right-wing propaganda in the disguise of a memorial.

Whether or not the 'propaganda' content is removed from Yasukuni, it will remain a hated site for the Allies. May be when Japan becomes a third world country, rid of prestige, then perhaps her veterans may be respected and pitied by the Allied states.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

patty cake champion

I do not agree that just because you took part in an war of aggression that was started by a national leader(s) who were not democratically elected, you cannot be respected and honored for your sacrifice. It's worse for Japan and Germany because most of the servicemen were conscripted to serve in WWII.

So basically, go to war or go to jail, and possibly be tortured or killed. I'm sure that most of us wouldn't have the balls to defy the authority like that especially during Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan, but for those who did, why are they not remembered and honored for their bravely? In Germany at least, they are remembered and honored.

I'm sure you would have loved to tell them, "I'm sorry, we cannot remember your actions and experiences apart from atrocities because you served an evil regime," right in their faces

I probably would, and they would have to accept that.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yes "the victor writes the history" and all that, but Japan and Germany (and other "Axis" countries), being totalitarian states, were undoubtedly in the wrong.These so-called "war heroes" fought for the wrong war, and they even lost.

You are setting a bad precedent that's insensitive now, especially to US servicemen who served in Iraq. I do not agree that just because you took part in an war of aggression that was started by a national leader(s) who were not democratically elected, you cannot be respected and honored for your sacrifice. It's worse for Japan and Germany because most of the servicemen were conscripted to serve in WWII. Too bad that most of those who served and their families are dead by now, because I'm sure you would have loved to tell them, "I'm sorry, we cannot remember your actions and experiences apart from atrocities because you served an evil regime," right in their faces

1 ( +4 / -3 )

One thing is very clear: Yasukuni Shrine is NOT like Arlington National Cemetery. Its "museum" is a propaganda machine that distorts history. In fact, their homepage used to make claims that Japan was "forced" into World War II and lambasted the United States for dropping atomic bombs on Japan. It focused on describing Japan as a "victim" and doesn't make any references to any regret for past aggression. I see now that they've removed that content, but it just goes to show you what Yasukuni Shrine's main purpose is: right-wing propaganda in the disguise of a memorial.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Readers, the topic is the Mitama festival.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even if there are war criminals within the Yasukuni Shrine, it doesn't mean that they don't deserve to be remembered or honoured.

...Why? Actually the fact that these "war heroes" are even honored sounds strange to me. Most people would accept that Japan was the aggressor in the war, they were not in the right. Yes "the victor writes the history" and all that, but Japan and Germany (and other "Axis" countries), being totalitarian states, were undoubtedly in the wrong.These so-called "war heroes" fought for the wrong war, and they even lost.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

If Japan learned its lesson that would only encourage anti-US sentiment to grow in light of the invasion of Iraq and even hostility on behalf of the Iraqi people. Or even worse, fuel pro-Chinese sentiment.

I'm sure many people here have stakes in friendly US-Japanese relations and its continued antagonism against Beijing. Let's not ruin it all by some fervor over an issue that only Asians give a crap about.

I'm not saying Japan should deny the atrocities, not at all! If the US and its cool attitude towards the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has taught us, Japan should grow up and justify/excuse itself before any attempts at making apologies.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If Japan learned its lesson that would only encourage anti-US sentiment to grow in light of the invasion of Iraq and even hostility on behalf of the Iraqi people. Or even worse, fuel pro-Chinese sentiment.

I'm sure many people here have stakes in friendly US-Japanese relations and its continued antagonism against Beijing. Let's not ruin it all by some fervor over an issue that only Asians give a crap about.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is no way I wud have wanted to live in Japan if Japan had won the war, all of Japans progress was due to Japan LOSING the war.

That doesn't make any logical sense at all.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@gokai

I don7t mind if the show what peopel were thinking at the time but it is full of lies and glorifies what was done in the anme of the emporer.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@JohhnyGlitterbal The museum should stay. It may be repulsive, but it is important to know what people (at least the elite) were thinking, so we can identify the same thinking again (any contemporary parallels here??) I say a curse on both European and Japanese imperialism.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

JesseBB,

I hear what your trying to say, but just imagine if Germany/Japan/Italy had won WWII..................

I shudder to think what the world would have been like, sorry but those 3 were brutal savage, relentless in death & destruction, although the allies did some nasty stuff it utterly pales to what the losers did, clearly the world is a better place because they lost. There is no way I wud have wanted to live in Japan if Japan had won the war, all of Japans progress was due to Japan LOSING the war.

Yasukuni will remain the ugly institution it is until Japan stops the white washing. The US made a huge mistake leaving it be clearly.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Remember that US General Curtis Lemay famously said that if the US had lost the war, they would have been tried as war criminals for firebombing and atom bombing all those Japanese civilians (read about Lemay's "doctrine of total war", where every man, woman, and baby are legitimate targets of bombs). Why did McArther have all pictures of Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hiroshima etc. impounded, where they are still in the vaults of the Pentagon.

Back to Yasukuni Shrine, don't make it something bigger than it is. The Emperial family have disowned it, and only two-bit country politicians go there to get in the news. Anyway, it still exists due at least in part, as I showed above, to the efforts of the Catholic church. It is like whales. Japanese had more or less forgotten about whale until the Sea Shepard people put it back in the news again. Now everyone is like, oh what is that? Whale? Got to try it! After the war, it was the only thing to eat. Do the same with Yasukuni.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Jesse, it is not just the foot soldiers that we think about, it is what they were fighting for. If German or Japanese refused to go to war they woudl face being shot,, dissent lead to death. Of course as humans we are all the same, some good some bad.

WWII was the last war in which the right side one, the side that made life better for most of the world.Imagine a world with Germany and Japan carrying on genocides worldwide.

I do not care less whther Japanese want to visit this place to remember but i would like to see the museum destroyed, it is repulsive.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

sigh There we go whining again about the "war criminals". Give it a rest already.. You don't have to bring that up everytime.

Well perhaps if Japan fixed the issue, people wouldn't "whine" about it.

We, the Dutch people, are not complaining every year about Germany either.

No, you guys just save it for football matches, right? Also a huge difference in how Germany has acted after the war compared to how Japan has acted.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Yes, from an aesthetic point of view the lanterns are in indeed amazing. From an aesthetic point of view Triumph of the Will is also amazing. Japanese lanterns are amazing even when hung outside a ramen shop. The problem is that Yasukuni represent the continued denials, coverups and lies that the Japanese government still continues to push with regards to its crimes against humanity. Pretty lanterns cannot change that.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Im probably going to get a lot of down votes for this.... but here goes.

It doesn't matter what side your on when you're in a war, your side is always the good side. If you were an impressionable german teenager in the late 1930's there is a good chance you would of signed up with the brown shirts. If you were 18(or older) you would of been happy to join the military. It would have been what all your friends are doing. Hitler had turned the country around and to most germans he was a god send. The economy that was left in ruins after WWI was getting better and the germans were rising to power. You honestly couldn't say if you were a german man/woman you would of been against the nazi party. You wouldn't of known any better - they were highly popular.

On the other hand, my grandfather who was 18, lived in new zealand at the time of his enlistment went to war as an ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Army Corp). He fought in africa, italy and france. He went to war because thats what his friends were doing, thats what his country wanted him to do. And before he actually saw combat he wanted to go to war. It was a way to prove himself. It's the same for both sides. Axis or Allies.

I have had some japanese people apologise to me for WW2. I feel ashamed that the world has made them feel ashamed. That's not right. Even if there are war criminals within the Yasukuni Shrine, it doesn't mean that they don't deserve to be remembered or honoured.

War criminals are on both sides and always will be, but unfortunately it's the victor who writes history and it's the victor who decides who the war criminals are. An example 'could be' - if the axis had won, hiroshima and nagasaki wouldn't be so easily shrugged off like it currently is.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

@takoyakitora, I agree, but it is easy to say "until the issue is resolved", but nobody seems to agree on how the issue will be "resolved". But I doubt Yasukuni has a role in this.

Incidentally, for history people, after the war, McArthur originally planned to burn Yasukuni Shrine to the ground and make a dog race track. However, Bruno Bitter, who at the time was an official envoy of the Pope and president of Sophia University (a Catholic university in Tokyo), opposed the idea, and wrote in the the summary of the arguments for and against : "All nations have the right and duty to pay respects to soldiers who died for their country. This is an equal truth for both the victor nation and the loser nation." (my translation: the original Japanese is 「いかなる国家も、その国家のために死んだ戦士に対して、敬意を払う権利と義務があると言える。それは、戦勝国か、敗戦国かを問わず、平等の真理でなければならない」). Thus, the dog race track idea was abandoned, and Yasukuni Shrine stands today.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

What is wrong with these people? Surely they know the terrible history that goes with this shrine.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

We, the Dutch people, are not complaining every year about Germany either.

Did Germany make amends? Did Germany construct a shrine to house the souls of Hitler, Goebbles, Himmler, and other Nazis then allow the German politicians of today to go and pray for them? Your comparison is weak and pathetic at best.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

sigh There we go whining again about the "war criminals". Give it a rest already.. You don't have to bring that up everytime.

Actually until the issue is resolved and the powers that be in this country stop trying to cover up history and lying to people it should be brought up every possible opportunity.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

We all know what Yasukini is and what it's associations are. But from a purely aesthetic standpoint, these lanterns that line the entrance to this, or any other shrine, look amazing.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

beautiful & ugly at the same time

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It is a common misunderstanding. The ashes of class A war criminals are not actually interred there, as it is often said in English. There is a plaque with there name "interred" there. Also, it is the main shrine for Shinto, made for the Emperor, but no emperor has visited the shrine after interring the plaques. It is too bad that Japan selected Britian as its model of modernization back in the 1860s (it is also an island, and had the most advanced technology and capitalist economy). That lead to the empire building and all that (you know, the "sun never sets on the British empire"). The first Japanese were sent to the US, where Perry's ships came from. But due to the Civil War, they were brought back, and others sent to Europe, where they learned the European model of capitalism (Lenin: "Imperialism is the highest form of capitalism" -- yes, so I'm a Marxist, don't mistake me for a dumb Japanese nationalist). So Japan could have been like the US (leaving aside whether that is good or bad) if it were not for the Civil War. Politicians like to make the scene there, but they are a dime a dozen, and it is mainly the country politicians doing it to please there farmer supporters.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Beautiful sight for a place that holds class A war criminals

So if we get rid of the names of those who were convicted for

Waging an aggressive war Aiding and abetting the waging of an aggressive war Conspiring to wage an aggressive war

the place will be brighter with just the class-Bs and Cs who committed crimes against humanity and exacted depraved upon cruelty upon civilians and POWs alike?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

We, the Dutch people, are not complaining every year about Germany either.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Look at those two "ultra nationalist right wing" girls!!! Look at those "ultra nationalist right winger's" names on the lantern!!!

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

sigh There we go whining again about the "war criminals". Give it a rest already.. You don't have to bring that up everytime.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

Beautiful sight for a place that holds class A war criminals,

Aw, C'mon, let 'em keep their memories. However constructed they may be. It is a nice picture.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Yeah be sure to check out the 'museum' while you are there too.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Beautiful sight for a place that holds class A war criminals, and a great pic! Shame what the shrine holds within that you cannot see.

-13 ( +8 / -21 )

It's a stunning sight, this.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

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