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    More Yasukuni Shrine news

    One of the main points of contention in the whole Yasukuni Shrine flap has been whether Koizumi (among other high-level government officials) is making his pilgrimages in his capacity as a public servant or as a private citizen. It matters, naturally, because the separation of church and state argument doesn’t wash at all if he and his cabinet are just tradition-minded Japanese paying their respects. The latest development internal to Japan is that a court in Chiba has ruled that the visits are, in fact, official.

    Reasonable enough. Also reasonable was this part (lower two paragraphs):

    A court here Thursday ruled that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine in 2001 in his official capacity, but it skirted the issue of whether the trip violated the constitutional separation of the state and religion.

    The Chiba District Court also rejected a compensation claim from 63 plaintiffs who demanded the state and the prime minister pay 100,000 yen to each member for inflicting mental pain from the Aug. 13, 2001, visit.

    The plaintiffs, including Christian and Buddhist priests, had argued Koizumi’s homage to the Shinto shrine was an act to give privileges to a specific religion, thereby violating the Constitution as well as their rights.

    America has many wonderful things to give to the world. Surely something we might consider keeping to ourselves until it mercifully dies off, however, is the habit of deeming any collision with an opposing idea “mental pain,” which is a violation of one’s “rights.” There is nothing I am aware of to prevent Christian and Buddhist Japanese from performing their own kinds of prayers unobtrusively at the memorial, or from setting up their own memorial on dedicated ground of their own. The legitimate issues surrounding the Japanese government’s treatment of its World War II conduct, which still has a major influence on its relationships with its neighbors, are only obscured by these shenanigans. And that’s unfortunate, because they really need dealing with.

    26 November 15:25 EST

    8 Responses to “More Yasukuni Shrine news”

    1. I’m for letting a Japanese person, who happens to be a government official, and who also loves the Gods and the Goddesses (including the Sun Goddess*) of his ancestors, worship at their shrine, for exactly the same reason as I’m for letting an American Christian who loves the God of his ancestors utter the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. As Thomas Jefferson said, it neither breaks my back nor picks my pocket.
      *By the way, if the ancient Japanese (or Egyptians or Aztecs, etc.) had known how huge and powerful the Sun actually is in relation to the Earth, they would have been even more worshipful of that most awesome Heaven Bright Shining Deity.

    2. John says:

      Are the Class A criminals interred with the rest of the lot? Did they mix the ashes into one big pot? If not, it would go a long way if Japan would just remove them. I might even pause to listen to the “woe was us” speeches in August. I’d still think they were a load of crap, but I’d pause to listen. Until then, talk to the hand.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      It’s weird. I have no problem tearing into the Japanese for their whitewashed history textbooks and their forked-tongued non-apologies at official functions–but this particular thing I’ve never understood. Maybe if I’d been brought up in an ancestor-worshipping culture myself I’d get it. But it seems to me that just praying for the eternal repose of the souls of 2 million soldiers, in which war criminals and regular enlisted men are mixed, isn’t an affront to anything. It’s not as if Koizumi marches right up to Tojo’s urn and thanks his individual ashes for valiant service to his country. To believe that the dead will get what’s coming to them in the hereafter, but that it’s our job to do the ceremonial right thing by all of them…well, I find it hard to argue with. Maybe in a weird way, it’s being an atheist that does it.
      Oh, and Steven, you know, the Japanese do have a strong strain of sun-deification that seems right up your alley. One of the major deities is the goddess Amaterasu (天照, “the heavens shine”). Her line, more robust than her rival brother’s, ended up producing the rulers of Japan. If you’re into mythologies, the Japanese are worth checking out.

    4. John says:

      The eligibility requirements for burial at Arlington include the following:
      (2) Any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. With certain exceptions, service beginning after September 7, 1980, as an enlisted person, and service after October 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 continuous months or the full period for which the person was called to active duty (as in the case of a Reservist called to active duty for a limited duration). Undesirable, bad conduct, and any other type of discharge other than honorable may or may not qualify the individual for veterans benefits, depending upon a determination made by a VA Regional Office. Cases presenting multiple discharges of varying character are also referred for adjudication to a VA Regional Office.
      Source: http://www.cem.va.gov/eligible.htm
      What this says is that a soldier not conducting themselves according to the UCMJ is not eligible for honors. That includes, but is not limited to, war criminals. The US basically says that a soldier who dishonors his uniform is not fit to be buried next to honorable men. By not following this at Yasukuni, Japan is effectively saying that those criminals served Japan’s interests honorably. It’s an insult to all belligerents in that war, including those like my wife’s oldest uncle who, like so many Korean and Taiwanese, were conscripted into the IJA, perished in its service, and are not interred in Yasukuni.
      It’s not as if Japan has a tradition of letting disgraced Imperial servants back into the fold after death. I spent a couple of pleasant late winter afternoons at Michizane Sugawara’s shrine: the Emperor never forgave him for a relatively minor transgression.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      I think the comparison with Arlington is worth looking at; where I think the area is greyed a bit is that several of the class-A war criminals from WWII were carrying out Japan’s own war policy. Not that that makes it okay morally, or anything–I hope it’s obvious I agree there. But can you really argue that they violated the Japanese warrior code as it was being put into practice during the Pacific War and occupation of Asia? I’m just pointing out here how I think things could be presented. In reality, I can’t count the number of times, in the less than a year I’ve been posting here, that I’ve said conceding on the Yasukuni Shrine visits is a good idea.

    6. John says:

      If they want to make the claim that those men were carrying out orders as they stood, then inter some non-Japanese conscripts into Yasukuni -they were also carrying out the Imperial orders. I do agree that a few of the war criminals were not really criminals as such, more the targets of MacArthur’s revenge – several Nanjing perpetrators escaped execution while all those responsible for direction of the Phillipines campaign were targeted.
      BTW, have you read Seagrave’s “Yamato Dynasty”? I don’t know what to make of it. He’s a senstionalist, and his father was a surgeon in the CBI theatre, so I trust him more on Chinese matters than Japanese. But I still trust his unverified word about as far as I can spit a rat.

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      Never having seen you spit rats, I will only say that my understanding is that he’s about as trustworthy as you indicate. Not that there’s no basis whatever for the things he claims–to the extent that I’ve seen them discussed. Ultimately, the thing that gripes me most about this and related topics is the way people act as if no one before the Japanese had ever engaged in wartime abuses, coverups, and convenient absolutions. As for your idea about enshrining Korean conscripts along with Japanese at a Shinto shrine…very interesting. Doesn’t sound all that likely, though, to put it mildly.

    8. John says:

      Japan still believes its culture to be superior, and tries to cover up a lot of things long after other nations would admit their wrongdoing, I think it’s the obstinacy and sense of superiority that rankles. Japan has yet to pay for the clean up of chemical and biological weapons sites in Manchuria. My wife’s cousins did not receive their father’s combat casualty payments from Tokyo until the 1990s, although his service records were intact. Again and again they dodge responsibility 60 years on.
      You know as well as I that the Chinese believe themselves superior to everyone in Asia because of the age of their civilization and the high degree of borrowing from China evident in all the chopstick cultures. The Japanese believe themselves superior because they dragged the decadent and non-innovative Asian culture kicking and screaming into the 19th century, and were the first Asian power to defeat a Europen power since the Mongol Empire fell (and ironically they beat the European power that finished off the Mongols). What we’re seeing over Yasukuni is an extension of that 150 year-old feud.
      And about the Koreans in Yasukuni – didn’t Akihito recently own up to possible Korean ancestry? I definitely see some wing buds on the pig’s back.