AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Tojo defends Yasukuni on Korean TV

Posted by ampontan on Friday, May 11, 2007

NO, NOT former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo; it was his granddaughter Yuko Tojo.

Kokuryu (Nevin Thompson), my interlocutor in the Intraview page above, send me an e-mail with a link to a YouTube excerpt of a KBS (South Korean) program broadcast on August 13, 2006, in which Yuko Tojo appeared with a woman from Taiwan and a woman from South Korea to discuss the Yasukuni Shrine. Ms. Tojo of course speaks in Japanese, and Japanese subtitles are given for the other two women. I wanted to make a transcript and translate it, but the paying translation work now on my desk prevents me from devoting a lot of time to it.

But since the segment deserves wider publicity, I thought I should at least summarize their statements in English. Please note that I dashed this off very quickly late at night. If anyone thinks I’ve made a mistake or left out important information, feel free to send me a note or make a comment and I’ll incorporate it.

Here’s the link to the YouTube segment (it’s about 10 minutes). The summary follows.

YT: Yuko Tojo
TW: Taiwanese woman
KW: South Korean woman

YT: Many people misunderstand Yasukuni Shrine. There are no ashes or bones there. The spirits of the war dead are enshrined as if they were all on the same zabuton (cushion for sitting on the floor).

TW: I think many Japanese feel the same way you do, but here’s the real Yasukuni. (Holds up book.) The wood used here was plundered from a mountain on Taiwan. (Note: I think she is referring to the wood used to make the torii at the front of the shrine.)

YT: Taiwan and Korea were occupied in accordance with international law at the time.

TW: From 1896 to 1920, the Japanese conducted 138 “wars” against Taiwan’s aboriginal inhabitants. (This is an error in the Japanese translation. She obviously means military operations.) 7,000 were killed. The number of killed and wounded totaled about 1/8th of Taiwan’s population at the time.

YT: Japan worked to create an infrastructure and bring the local educational level up to the level in Japan.

TW: Anyone who could say that has no conscience. The Japanese brainwashed the aboriginal Taiwanese to think of themselves as Japanese. What do you think would happen if Hitler and the Jews were memorialized in the same place?

YT: That was a different situation. Hitler killed his own countrymen. Japan was forced into the war by anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S. and the encirclement by the ABCD powers. (America, Britain, China, and the Dutch) A comparison with Hitler and Germany is nonsense.

KW: The problem is that no one told the (foreign) families of the enshrined they were dead to begin with.

YT: Yasukuni was not responsible for that; the enshrinement was done in accordance with Japanese rules. Also, I am not excusing this (moshiwake arimasen), but Taiwan and South Korea were a part of Japan at the time. The Korean and Taiwanese were enshrined at Yasukuni together without discrimination.

KW: Yasukuni is not the problem; the problem is enshrining the Taiwanese and Koreans.

YT: We are treating them the same way we treat Japanese. They fought as Japanese. People would ask why they were not enshrined if they fought as Japanese.

KW: That concept is a mistake. They were forced to fight as Japanese.

YT: I understand what you mean very well. They overcame their sadness as Koreans and Taiwanese and (literally) did Japan the favor of fighting as Japanese. Japan is thankful for that.

KW: Don’t be thankful. I want to hear what you have to say about your grandfather as a war criminal.

YT: According to an act of the Japanese Diet agreed to by all political parties, they are not considered war criminals but war fatalities. We must treasure your father’s sacrifice. To remove your father’s spirit from Yasukuni would be to ignore (his sacrifice). People can’t be taken out separately. They have to be enshrined together. The word goshi (enshrined together) is in the dictionary. There is no word in the dictionary for being enshrined separately.

KW: Are you proud of it? (This enshrinement)

YT: Yes, I am. Your father is resting in peace. Do you think he would be happy at your anger? I think he would be sad.

(Taping concludes)

KW: I’ve had enough! I’m finished! (YT keeps asking her to sit down and talk some more.)

TW: Take the names of the Taiwanese out of Yasukuni.

YT: Listening to people get so emotional while trying to talk to them was frightening!

My very quick take:
Too often in the media, especially overseas, old-line Japanese are portrayed as firebrands, and it is implied that they’re only too ready to march back into Asia again.

For that reason, I’m glad this is available for people to see. After watching the whole thing—especially Ms. Tojo’s last comment–the first thing that came to mind was Arsenic and Old Lace. This is hardly militaristic.

This had to have been a longer program. I’d be curious to see the whole thing, especially to see how it was edited.

As it turns out, Yuko Tojo announced yesterday she will run for a seat in Japan’s Upper House elections this July, as an independent if necessary. I’m sure there will be some who enjoy getting upset by this and warn that Japan is creeping back to its old ways, but face it folks, she is unlikely to win. Also, it should be pointed out that the Upper House has little real power, and is often the political equivalent of a vanity license plate, as this previous post explains. There have been more than a few single-issue celebrity candidates elected to the Upper House, but their election seldom furthers their pet causes.

Here’s a quick profile of Yuko Tojo that appeared a couple of years ago. While looking for a suitable article, I ran across a comment by a Western blogger in Tokyo who is suffering under the illusion that she is a “hero” in Japan.

Moshiwake arimasen, but that only reinforces what I said earlier this week about bloggers. As Yuko Tojo would put it, that’s nonsense.

10 Responses to “Tojo defends Yasukuni on Korean TV”

  1. […] summarized a segment of a South Korean TV program that appeared on August 13, 2006 with Japanese subtitles. The show featured Tojo Yuko, […]

  2. Topcat said

    As you know, Ampontan-san, freedom of speech is guaranteed in Japan. Therefore no one can tell the granddaughter of PM Hideki Tojo NOT to do this or that.

    That said ….. what she is doing now (talking about political or historical issue in public, going out to South Korea and debating with a Korean and a Taiwanese on Yasukuni, running for Upper House elections, etc.) disgusts some Japanese; if the term “disgusts” sounds a little too strong, what she is doing makes some Japanese feel unfomfortable.

    I myself think that PM Hideki Tojo has been given a wrong image, too, and realize that his granddaughter wants to clear such an image. That said (again), I think she should keep her mouth shut.

    There is something “not Japanese” about what she is doing now, which is only my personal impression, though.

    Apart from Yuko Tojo’s opinion, I think we (the Japanese) should discuss Yasukuni.
    I think that the government must construct a national memorial institution for the war dead. Accepting Yasukuni as a national memorial place is incompatible with the current (not the past) constitutional provisions for the separation of religion and politics.

    I realize (not fully, maybe) Korean and Taiwanese families’ antipathy against Yasukuni. There have been several lawsuits between the government and Japanese families of soldiers killed in WWII who were Christians and enshrined at Yasukuni.

    BTW, in KBS program, Yuko Tojo says that Ministry of Health and Welfare (that has been merged into Ministry of Health and Welfare and Labor) “decided” who to be enshrined, which is not correct. MHW just kept records of the war dead and passed them to Yasukuni. Who to be enshrined was decided by Yasukuni. Anyway, giving the records to a religious body could cause a dispute today, I suppose.

    http://d.hatena.ne.jp/yamatodamasii/20060824

    http://blog.goo.ne.jp/pandiani/e/227b5ec3f0155088c63bebe17136dfe4

  3. […] as well as an interesting translation of some of the main points brought up in the video. Check it out! You seem to be using a version of Internet Explorer. For a safer browsing experience, please […]

  4. rei said

    The Taiwanese woman is 高金素梅.Her father is a mainland Chinese.Her protest performance against Yasukuni shrine has been praised by anti Japanese people.But some Taiwanese criticize her for her ignorance of the history.

    please read the articles by the Taiwanese.
    http://www.sankei.co.jp/seiron/koukoku/2003/0309/ronbun1-1.html
    http://www.wufi.org.tw/mail2k3/m030805.htm

  5. […] Tojo defends Yasukuni on Korean TV « AMPONTAN No, not former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo; it was his granddaughter Yuko Tojo. […]

  6. ampontan said

    The spam filter is working overtime again, this time catching another legitimate comment from Topcat, who asked me to post the following:
    ————————————————
    As you know, Ampontan-san, freedom of speech is guaranteed in Japan. Therefore no one can tell the granddaughter of PM Hideki Tojo NOT to do this or that.

    That said ….. what she is doing now (talking about political or historical issue in public, going out to South Korea and debating with a Korean and a Taiwanese on Yasukuni, running for Upper House elections, etc.) disgusts some Japanese; if the term “disgusts” sounds a little too strong, what she is doing makes some Japanese feel unfomfortable.

    I myself think that PM Hideki Tojo has been given a wrong image, too, and realize that his granddaughter wants to clear such an image. That said (again), I think she should keep her mouth shut.

    There is something “not Japanese” about what she is doing now, which is only my personal impression, though.

    Apart from Yuko Tojo’s opinion, I think we (the Japanese) should discuss Yasukuni.
    I think that the government must construct a national memorial institution for the war dead. Accepting Yasukuni as a national memorial place is incompatible with the current (not the past) constitutional provisions for the separation of religion and politics.

    I realize (not fully, maybe) Korean and Taiwanese families’ antipathy against Yasukuni. There have been several lawsuits between the government and Japanese families of soldiers killed in WWII who were Christians and enshrined at Yasukuni.

    BTW, in KBS program, Yuko Tojo says that Ministry of Health and Welfare (that has been merged into Ministry of Health and Welfare and Labor) “decided” who to be enshrined, which is not correct. MHW just kept records of the war dead and passed them to Yasukuni. Who to be enshrined was decided by Yasukuni. Anyway, giving the records to a religious body could cause a dispute today, I suppose.

    http://d.hatena.ne.jp/yamatodamasii/20060824

    http://blog.goo.ne.jp/pandiani/e/227b5ec3f0155088c63bebe17136dfe4

  7. bender said

    I hear many Japanese veterans of WWII are quite critical of Tojo and the Japanese Imperial Army. I think it is pretty fair to say that they are the ones directly responsible for the fall of the Japanese Empire. I wouldn’s say Yuko Tojo represents what the Japanese think about this issue.

    That being said, I’m pretty sure that Japan will be bashed if Korean and Taiwanese soldiers were not honored in the shrine. The Far East is riddled with intorelant nationalism/ethno- hatred. It’s surprising that only Japan gets bashed for nationalism while the level of natonalism going on in other east Asian countries seem much more extreme.

  8. John said

    Great video… but is there one with English subtitles?

    Thank you.

  9. ampontan said

    Bender: “It’s surprising that only Japan gets bashed for nationalism while the level of natonalism going on in other east Asian countries seem much more extreme.”

    Amen, brother.

    John: I don’t think so. If I knew of one, I would have linked to it. However, you have the gist of it in that summary.

  10. […] un escaño en la cámara alta en las legislativas de julio y quien hace poco estuvo "defendiendo" el templo en la televisión […]

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