In a nationally broadcast news conference marking the start of the new year, Mr. Koizumi defended his annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, the memorial to Japan's war dead, although the visits have frozen Japan's diplomatic relations with its neighbors. The leaders of China and South Korea have refused to meet Mr. Koizumi in protest over the visits to the shrine, which also honors top-ranked war criminals and is considered a symbol of Japanese militarism throughout Asia.For a number of reasons, it's naïve at best (and deceptively calculating at worst) to suggest that paying homage at a place that enshrines the architects and the executors of policies that led to the countless deaths of Chinese and Koreans is NOT within the diplomatic sphere of those countries. Ditto with government-approved textbooks that in the past may have downplayed those actions.
"I can't understand why foreign governments would intervene in a spiritual matter and try to turn it into a diplomatic problem," Mr. Koizumi said, adding that he visited the shrine to pray for peace.
"I've never once closed the door to negotiations with China and South Korea," he added.
South Korean foreign minister, Ban Ki Moon, responded by saying that Japan's leaders needed a "better understanding of history" and should earn the "trust and respect of other countries."
Although I don't put much stock in surveys like this as anything more than a barometer of volatile feelings last week, the NYT piece talks about deteriorating attitudes toward Chinese and Koreans:
According to a Japanese government survey released at the end of last year, only 32.4 percent of Japanese said they had "friendly feelings" toward China. The figure, down 5.2 percentage points from the previous year, was a record low.I don't agree that Yasukuni Shrine visits are as cut-and-dry as Koizumi would have us believe. And certainly in Japan there are many that agree with me. I will finish this post with some questions about Yasukuni I had asked in another forum, and which I had planned to include as a prelude to a post on the shrine, which I visited during my most recent visit to Tōkyō, last fall.
Japanese public opinion also grew less favorable toward South Korea, with 51.1 percent expressing positive sentiments, down 5.6 percentage points from the previous year. Japan's positive feelings toward Korea had increased annually in the previous four years, reflecting improving bilateral ties that took a turn for the worse last year over Yasukuni and other issues.
Since the Yasukuni-14 did not die during war (a couple died of natural causes), how is it that they were justified in being enshrined there? Is anybody who fought in war to be enshrined there, even if they died [later, after the war] from lung cancer, getting hit by a bus, or just old age?There's a little more to read at the original comment, but I'd prefer people provide their answers here on this blog.
Are all executed “war criminals” enshrined there, or is it just these fourteen? Is Hong, a Korean executed after the war for his role in Japanese POW camps, also enshrined there?
If it is natural that these fourteen were to be enshrined there, why did they wait over three decades to enshrine them there? It would seem that their post-war, non-wartime deaths did not necessitate their enshrinement. Was this a deliberate political act, not a religious one?