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  • Nov 26, 2014
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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. 

NewsAsia
JAPAN

Japan's Shinzo Abe omits expression of remorse for wartime aggression

The Japanese prime minister's omission of apologies in annual speech, and visit to war shrine by lawmakers, draw flak from China and South Korea

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 1:47am
 

Japan's conservative prime minister broke with two decades of tradition yesterday by omitting any expression of remorse for the nation's past aggression in Asia in his speech on the anniversary of its second world war surrender.

Shinzo Abe avoided phrases such as "profound remorse" and "sincere mourning", used by his predecessors to acknowledge the suffering caused by the Imperial Japanese Army as it stormed across East Asia - an omission sure to anger China and South Korea.

The hawkish premier has previously expressed unease over Japan's apologies for wartime aggression. The country's neighbours have also bristled at Abe's talk of overhauling the pacifist constitution.

However, Abe stayed away from the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo yesterday, sending a ritual offering via an aide. Xinhua, quoting an assistant to Abe, reported that Abe felt regretful that he could not visit the shrine, which is seen overseas as a glorification of Japan's imperialist past, including a brutal 35-year occupation of the Korean peninsula.

Nearly 100 Japanese lawmakers, including three cabinet ministers, did go to the shrine, prompting sharp responses from Beijing and Seoul. China summoned Japan's envoy, and said it was "strongly opposed to and strictly condemned" the shrine visits. It warned relations had no future unless Tokyo owned up to its past.

South Korea's foreign ministry blasted Tokyo for turning a blind eye to Japan's violent aggression during the first half of the 20th century. President Park Geun-hye said it was "hard to build trust without the willingness to face history and consider the wounds inflicted upon others" as she marked the peninsula's liberation from Japan.

The comments did not directly address the speech by Japan's leader, who also dropped a reference to upholding the nation's pledge not to wage war.

"I will never forget the fact that the peace and prosperity we are enjoying now was built based on the sacrifice of your precious lives," the prime minister said in a reference to the 2.5 million war dead honoured at the shrine.

Professor Zhou Yongsheng, a Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University, said Abe's remarks were intended to pave the way for Tokyo to revise Japan's constitution to formalise the country's right to have a military.

"This reflects his long-held intention," Zhou said. "His omission of expression of remorse and that Japan would never engage in wars is consistent with his policy directions."

This reflects his long-held intention. His omission of expression of remorse and that Japan would never engage in wars is consistent with his policy directions
Professor Zhou Yongsheng, a Japanese affairs expert at China Foreign Affairs University

Lian Degui, deputy director of the Japanese Studies Centre at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said there was still the possibility of improvement in Sino-Japanese ties because Abe had not visited the Yasukuni shrine.

"There is still a chance that the two nations can get along well with each other," he said. "Abe cannot afford to compromise Japan's international standing and economic interest by having a very poor relationship with China."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan should respect history. "Any visit to the Yasukuni shrine … among Japanese leaders is an attempt to deny or glorify the aggression history of Japan's militarism," Hong said.

"We call on Japan to stick to its pledges to medidate on history, and get the trust of the international community with concrete actions. Otherwise, there is no future for the relationship between Japan and its Asian neighbours."


Japan's Yasukuni shrine, dedicated to the nation's war dead, has been seen elsewhere as a symbol of Japan's past militarism

  • Established in 1869 and funded by the government until 1945, the shrine is dedicated to the nation's 2.5 million war dead, including about 1,000 convicted war criminals. No human remains are housed there.
  • In wartime the shrine played a central role in the state Shinto religion, which mobilised the population to fight in the name of a divine emperor.
  • Among those honoured are 14 second world war leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as "Class A" war criminals, including prime minister Hideki Tojo. Seven of these were executed by hanging.
  • These war criminals were enshrined at Yasukuni in a secret ceremony in 1978.
  • A museum in the shrine's grounds depicts the Pacific war as one Japan was forced to fight in self-defence. It has been criticised for ignoring the atrocities Imperial troops committed in Asia.
  • About 27,800 men from Taiwan and more than 21,000 Koreans killed while serving with Imperial forces are enshrined at Yasukuni, shrine officials say. Some relatives want their names removed from lists of those honoured there.
  • A small shrine dedicated to all who died fighting against Japan, including Chinese and Korean soldiers, was built on Yasukuni's grounds in 1965. There has been at least one attempt to destroy it.

Reuters

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This article is now closed to comments

pslhk
assowanerbesan
Japan is in no position to talk about a future better world
as it fails to face the past and can’t tell good from bad
That’s why you tried to divert attention to 1930 Europe
Japan then was too ugly to recall
Your referral to nazi is hypocritical
Germany is now a respectable member of EU
But Japan remains what we call a street rat in Asia
Thanks to Abe and the likes of you
pseudotriton
Nonsense. Abe is the one creating external enemies to distract domestic attention from Japan's declining economy. And moving on does not mean revising history and denying the atrocities one has done in the past. Germans do not deny the holocaust they committed, but that is exactly what Abe and his right-wingers are trying to do. So much so that some Japanese politicians are even saying that their enslaving of "comfort women" during WW2 was justified and necessary. Anyone who denies history are bound to repeat it, and you're a fool if you don't see that.
andypl
Taken together with Japan's massive and wreckless quantitiative easing and monetary policy which is basically a currency war aimed at Korea and China, and the recent launching of their largest warship since WWII, is there any doubt what Abe is doing ? This is purely preparation for further aggression and the rest of Asia is asleep at the wheel. Without a stronger response economically, ie response to the currency issue, the Japanese will become bolder and bolder. Economic policy can stop Japan it its tracks and maintain peace in Asia, but only if everyone faces up to what is going on. Peace to everyone.
andreaswagner
Article 9 should be scrapped immediately, as it is outdated. It had its purpose after WW2, but the geopolitical situation has changed. Japan and its South-East Asian neighbours are now threatened by a ruthless regime with no respect for any international laws or values. There is no choice actually. The world should have listened to Mac Arthur...
andreaswagner
It's about time Shinzo Abe put an end to this. The rest of the world has moved on, so should we all. Instead of dwelling in the past we should face the present and the future, to make this world a better place. But then the red nazi's in Peking need to create trouble and enemies do distract the population from all the internal problems. Nothing new altogether, we have seen the same happening in Europe in the 1930's.
andreaswagner
So when will China face the past and stop denying history (or rewriting it as their regime finds convenient)? I bet not as long as they still print the biggest mass mur_derer in history on their money:)
pseudotriton
Does this really surprise anyone? It'd be newsworthy had he NOT omitted the remorse and mourning statements. Everyone in Asia knows what this Abe is up to. The scary part is that most of the rest of the world seem to be clueless, and continue to portray China as the "threat", fanned by a few ****-ant countries like the Philippines, which, have their own ulterior motives.
daily
The more Japan resists facing up to past war crimes, the more we should realize that they deserved to get those two nukes dropped on them...........Just keep provoking the rest of the world you **** and wait for another few more nukes to be dropped you on you guys again............
There should never have been this shrine.........those that were in the war deserved to die for the grief they caused upon the rest of the world............
superdx
All these words by Japan are just that, words, designed to boost political creditability at home and keep China wary.
However if Article 9 of the Japanese constitution is repealed or weakened, we should all be worried. I imagine the US would raise a fuss about it as well, but given the lack of political will there, this only gives China an excuse to continue sabre rattling.
pseudotriton
Article 9 prevents Japan from having anything other than a "defensive force". So what you're saying is that you want an offensive force so Japan can attack China and others preemptively, just like in WW2. Funny that you're calling China a "ruthless regime". Have you guys looked in the mirror lately?

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