• Mon
  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Updated: 9:46pm

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine, located in Tokyo, Japan, is dedicated to over 2,466,000 Japanese soldiers and servicemen who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan in the last 150 years. It also houses one of the few Japanese war museums dedicated to World War II.The shrine is at the center of an international  controversy by honoring war criminals convicted by a post World War II court including 14 'Class A' war criminals. Japanese politicians, including prime ministers and cabinet members have paid visits to Yasukuni Shrine in recent years which caused criticism and protests from China, Korea, and Taiwan. 

CommentInsight & Opinion

Abe's Yasukuni visit remembers pain of war and affirms Japan's remorse

Hitoshi Noda says Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine to remember the war dead did not include honouring war criminals. Instead, it affirms Japan's remorse and wish for peace

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 3:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 9:28am

I have carefully read the contribution by Song Zhe, the commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong, concerning Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine. As a diplomat stationed in Hong Kong, I have no intention to start a war of words here. However, I have to offer the Hong Kong people some clarification on the visit and further details because Mr Song's arguments are unfounded and misleading. As a courtesy to the hosting country, and for the sake of the space available, I will confine myself to Prime Minister Abe's intention and the relevant facts.

The prime minister has expressed profound remorse for history and made "a pledge never to wage a war again". That is what he wanted to express more than anything else in his visit to the Yasukuni shrine. While paying sincere condolences and respect to the souls of all those who have perished in wars, to the international community he reconfirmed in the sincerest manner the conviction for everlasting peace, based on his deepest remorse for the past - as expressed in the statement he issued after the visit. There is nothing else to his visit. In other words, he squarely faces the historical fact that Japan caused tremendous damage and sufferings to many countries and sincerely expresses the country's deep remorse and heartfelt apology for this past. No other positions and views are taken. This position, which has been shared by previous Japanese governments, is firmly upheld by Prime Minister Abe as well.

An important part of this feeling derives from the damage and sufferings caused to Hong Kong and its people during the war. Also, Prime Minister Abe has stated at Diet hearings that he accepts the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Paying honour to or justifying the Class-A war criminals was not part of his visit. If you look at Japan's course of progress throughout the 68 years of the post-war period, its sincerest remorse for its past, the country's conviction of never waging a war and its contribution to peace could never be doubted.

Japan has been one of the strongest and most consistent defenders of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and has been making its utmost contribution to peace and prosperity not only in the Asian region but also in the whole world. There is no room for "militarism" to exist. I am confident that this is something commonly acknowledged by the international society. This course of progress of Japan as a peace-loving nation will not change hereafter. Ideas and values such as peace, democracy and human rights have already been ingrained in the bodies and souls of the Japanese, transcending generations. I assume that many people of Hong Kong personally share this understanding of the Japanese, as so many Hong Kong people visit Japan and have seen for themselves what kind of a country it really is.

The relationship with China is one of the most important for Japan. As neighbouring countries, it is inevitable to have difficulties between each other from time to time. In no way would I try to deny that there exist issues and challenges between Japan and China today. That is exactly why dialogue between the two countries and their leaders is necessary. As the prime minister himself emphasises repeatedly, the door for dialogue is always open on the Japanese side. And I sincerely hope China will come forward.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the government and the citizens of Hong Kong for their deep friendship and hospitality towards the Japanese community here.

Hitoshi Noda is consul general of Japan in Hong Kong


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

9 - 0. The score so far. I have read everyone of the comments and they are all well reasoned, with a few, very few exceptions that may be a bit unfair to many Japanese who are truly peace lovers, who are equally, I'm sure, upset with Abe and his cohorts. I have nothing with new insights to add to the arguments already presented, just like to add one more vote. 10- 0.
My understanding is that the remains of Tojo and other convicted war criminals are there at the shrine. There's also a museum that belies everything that consul General Noda says.
The letter reads better than it actually is.
As the Consul General of Japan, he had no choice but to echo Abe's action, no matter how absurd it was. Abe wants to transform Japan into a normal country. What does that mean? The only thing abnormal about it is the occupation by US within Japan and Okinawa. US has over 40,000 military personnel in Japan; 14,000+ at the Yokota Air Base inside Japan and the balance dotted around the 4 main island and the majority in Okinawa. US is sending F-22 into Japan. Is it to balance the perceived threat from China or to keep a watchful eye over Japan. Japan may be an ally of US now. But up to 1940 US and Japan were kind of co-conspirator if not ally. US supplied Japan with oil and other resources for Japan to build up its own military establishment and decimated China. In 1940 US found Japan out of control and stopped the supply. There went Pearl Harbor in 1941. To get rid of US, Japan wants to create such a hot spot in the area that US would find it more comfortable to retreat to Pearl Harbor. Democracy in Japan is for the elite few. It is the same group of people going round and round. The average citizen do not have much of a say because it has alway been a choice between bad and worst. Do not get me wrong, some of my best friends are Japanese and I love Japanese food. But for Abe; his name should spell with a "p" instead of a "b". US is not dumb and will rein him in.
japan, korea and china are just playing into the hands of the usa, how stupid. government is government, just cannot be trusted
Hitoshi Noda the consul general of Japan in Hong Kong says among other things "That is exactly why dialogue between the two countries and their leaders is necessary." If Japan is sincere and have any honour at all, the very first thing it should do is the ban worship at the Yasukuni War Shrine. The second thing that Japan should do is like Germany ban fascism and arrest all the fascists in Japan. Clean up the filth in your uncivilised country first!
M Miyagi
You don't go to a notorious war shrine to "remembers pain of war and affirms Japan's remorse". If Mr Abe is sincere he should go to the Nanking Memorial to do that and also to kneel before the victims of the Rape of Nanking. Japanese government officials deceive themselves if they believe the rest of the world will believe or tolerate their lies. Japan is an uncivilised country without any future.
Mr ambassador
if you have read Song Zhe's article, then I assumed you have read all the comments and the entire previous article published.
most or majority of the views expressed here in HK or at any other countries at every corner of the earth has condemned abe visit @ ys. how specific do you want us to render our enormous disappointment and anger in words for your country failure to acknowledge your hideous past.
don't assume and don't pretend or harbour any thoughts to think we share your belief in your justification for the ys visit and the idea to call for a summit to explain is boldly shameless. I simply refuse to believe abe sincerity
be it Chinese or Koreans or others in asia, I still believe we are very forgiving ppl but there is a limit to our extended courteousness.
Repent ambassador and as much as we have suffered, Japanese ppl themselves are also the victims of those 14 war criminals. You can do no wrong by opposing abe’s agenda.

The Japanese Govt should just come clean on everything. I'm just sick of all the cover up on Fukushima. It really despises me how they wish to re-write historical textbooks for this generation on not owning up the past. I have no despise for the Japanese people in general. They are warm-loving and friendly. Only a few pursue this ridiculous agenda.
No amount of clarification can hide your true intentions.
Japan intents to militarize and stand up against China and the United States.
We deplore your unwillingness to come clean and face history.
The Japanese as a people are going down in history as the biggest losers; they will be remembered as a ruthless, irresponsible, small, cowardly people unwilling to acknowledge the crimes they have committed.
There is nothing new here. Just another propaganda damage control piece after Abe's missteps:
"The prime minister has expressed profound remorse for history and made "a pledge never to wage a war again"" -if Abe is sincere, then why visit the Yasukuni shrine when even the Americans warn him against the trip beforehand? Why trying to rewrite the pacifist Constitution? Why trying to rewrite middle school textbooks to claim Diaoyu and Dokdo islands as part of Japan's territory at this sensitive time?
"As the prime minister himself emphasises repeatedly, the door for dialogue is always open on the Japanese side" You forgot to include that Abe also claim that there is NO DISPUTE on the ownership of the Diaoyu islands and is not open for negotiation. These are just empty words that can fool no one.
I had plans to visit Japan due to the soft yen but has decided to cancel the trip. This is the least I can do on my part to show my displeasure with the present Japanese Government.


SCMP.com Account