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Debate: Official visits to Yasukuni shrine in Japan

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Is it acceptable for Japan's prime minister and officials to visit the Yasukuni warrior shrine?

Background and context

Yasukuni is a shrine in Tokyo that honors Japan's war dead. Among the over 2 million names indexed at the shrine are over a dozen Class A war criminals from World War II. Visits by prominent politicians to the shrine remain a major sticking point in relations between Japan and its neighbors, particularly South Korea and China. Yushukan, a military history museum on the shrine grounds also causes controversy for its allegedly revisionist views of World War II events and its lack of attention paid to comfort women, the occupation of Nanjing or the crimes of Manchukuo.

Contents

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Should Japanese politicians visit the site?

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Yes

Visiting the site is a choice of politicians that should be an internal, not an international, matter. Japan's recent previous leaders have no imperial pretensions and may wish to honor the over 2 million non-war criminals enshrined at Yasukuni.

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No

Official visits to Yasukuni shrine where dozens of tombs of A-class war criminals are put indicate Japanese officials still respect those who had commit atrocities to the whole world and to humanity, appreciate their evil patriots, and still cannot accept their defeat in World War II.

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Does it glorify the act of war crimes?

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Yes

  • Given that ex-PM Koizumi has made an official apology for the war crimes committed by the Japanese military in WWII, Japan can be seen as officially condemning the war crimes committed by the fallen soldiers
  • Still visiting the shrine and honoring them as 'war heroes' indirectly also glorifies their actions, including the war crimes.
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No

  • Since most war crimes happen collaterally, and not with premeditation, visiting the war shrine could be seen as a form of respect to people who sacrificed themselves for Japan, without judging how they carried out the sacrifice.
  • History is written by the victors. While some atrocities committed by the Japanese military are readily accepted by the outside world, many in Japan may still be loyal to the national version of the story. Thus any visitation to these shrines shouldn't be seen as glorification of the war crimes; as these officials may not even acknowledge that the crimes were committed in the first place.
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Yes

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No

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See also

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