Sunday, November 27, 2005

Aso the Isolationist? Aso the Uncaring? Aso the Can't-Be-Bothered?

Reuters reports that Japan's right-wing foreign minister (an "unapologetic bigot") criticized South Korea and China for protesting against Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a major sore point in Tokyo's relations with Seoul and Beijing.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso is also quoted in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun as saying that Japan should not worry about how it is viewed by other countries or whether it has become isolated:
The only countries in the world that talk about Yasukuni are China and South Korea... We don't have to worry about whether Japan is isolated or is not being liked.
Reuters adds that the sixty-five-year-old Aso, an outspoken member of the ruling party's conservative camp, has landed himself in hot water over remarks regarding Japan's past record in Asia. In May 2003, Aso caused an uproar in South Korea after he made comments interpreted as an attempt to justify some of the actions imperial Japan imposed on Koreans. Japanese colonial authorities essentially forced most Koreans to change their names to Japanese ones during the time, but Aso said that the measure initially began when some Koreans had asked for Japanese names.


  1. I paid my 800 yen and respected the "no photography" rule. I dutifully wrote down choice quotes from the displays.

    As I plan to address in an upcoming post, the shrine's museum makes it clear that the once-pacifist shrine has been hijacked by the worst form of apologism.

  2. I certainly agree that the museum is a problem, and I think Koizumi etc. do too and show that by not going.

    It's called having one's cake and eating it, too. They are pandering to the extreme right-wing while pretending they're not.

    I don't think of the museum and the shrine as one in the same. The shrine is still the same shrine regardless of the museum next to it in my opinion.

    That's an awfully convenient opinion. The museum is run as part of the shrine. On the official website for the shrine, the museum is right there.

    And saying the shrine is still the shrine doesn't cut it. The shrine became a right-wing tool as soon as the decision was made to consider Class-A war criminals who were not killed by war as casualties of the war. That was saying that the charges before them, the charges of waging a murderous war, were illegitimate.

    The extreme right-wing gets its stature raised by the visits, whether he goes to the museum or not.

    As for the no photo rule, to my defense the first "no photography" sign did not come up on the route until after I took the three pictures :D.

    The signs were right at the front when I went there.

  3. This really has more to do with it than religion. You are simplifying it way too much. Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni is a sign of a Japan not in touch with its' own past. I don't argue with Koizumi's right to visit as a private citizen, but he isn't such and every visit is followed by news cameras from all around the world. The message from Koizumi is that there is nothing to be repentent about and that Japan should continue as normal. This whole idea that Koizumi should answer to his own people before others really doesn't hold water for two reasons. One, most Japanese profess to be non-religious, in fact I believe that have one of the highest rates of athiesm in the world, and so I am sure if Koizumi did not go no offence would be forthcoming. He is doing it for himself first and foremost and also for the small right wing faction in Japan that holds so much sway over politics there. Secondly, two of Japan's major, and I mean major, trading partners are Korea and China. Being a nation whose economy is based almost solely on trade, do you think constantly ignoring major concerns of neighbour states is looking after his own people?
    No need to apologise for holding the wrong view, some people have to be like that I suppose.

  4. I have nicknamed the place "The Museum of Lies, Distortions, and Omissions." When I visited during the Cherry Blossom Festival, there were quite a few other patrons although I wouldn't say it was crowded. In the comments book at the end of the tour, I pointed out some of the lies, distortions, and omissions.

    I'm looking forward to your piece, Kushibo. I think the content of the museum is more offensive than the prime minister's visits to the shrine.

  5. That was a long post, Darin, and I don't have time to get into it right now. Two points, though. First, Koreans fear a resurgent Japan because prior to Japan's defeat, it invaded Korea three times from 1894 and then brutally occupied it for forty years. The Chinese, I'm guessing, fear a resurgent China because they were invaded by Japan and brutally occupied, too.

    I don't know why Japan would fear a Korean invasion.

    Second, you wrote: The statement continues to say that they are sad for those who suffered at the hands of Imperial Japan, but their husbands and everyone else at Yasukuni were told, [brainwashed if you will, because many Japanese people compare pre-war and war time Japan to modern North Korea], that if they died fighting, they would become Gods at Yasukuni, and no one has the right to take that away from them after the fact.

    The fourteen Class-A war criminals did NOT "die fighting." They do not belong there in the first place. By placing them there, those responsible for the shrine have politicized it.

    As I wrote here (this is an as-yet unrefined part of my Yasukuni post), they were placed there as a way for the right-wing to express that Japan was not an aggressor but a victim, especially of America, who they call the real culprit in causing the war.


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