AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Free the Yasukuni 14!

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

THE ENSHRINED SPIRITS of the 14 men designated by the victorious Allied forces in World War II as Class A war criminals might just as well be collectively referred to as the Yasukuni 14, denoting their de facto status as political prisoners. It’s only fitting—as with the motley crew of miscreants who have been retrofitted as icons in the left’s long parade of causes du jour, the memories of these men have become little more than prisoners of contemporary politics.

Umi no Miya

Neither the Yasukuni 14 nor their stories raise widespread passion any longer among the Japanese people, few of whom could identify more than two or three by name. To be sure, the entire range of opinions on the issue exists in the body politic, from those who think their enshrinement with the 2.5 million other people who died fighting for Japan is a sacrilege, to those who consider it an expression of patriotism that would be unremarkable in any other country. (After all, who objects to the Confederate soldiers buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in the U.S.?)

Still, no one views it as a hot-button issue. The last time debate over the enshrinement arose, during the 2005 lower house election, an Asahi Shimbun poll found that it ranked only fifth as an issue of importance. Fewer than 10% of those surveyed thought it was even worth mentioning.

The Japanese also know that they are no more likely to restage their bloody imperial adventure in East Asia than turtles are to sing grand opera. The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere is not going to rise again.

But they also realize that neighboring countries will continue to wield the Yasukuni enshrinement as a weapon in bilateral relations, and as an easily played card in their domestic political casino to excite the public and divert its attention from the leadership’s political shortcomings.

Nevertheless, even faux issues that have become political footballs generate real emotions, as the demonstrations in China and South Korea in 2005 attest. For that reason, they cannot be ignored. The antagonists view this issue as a zero-sum game, making it more difficult to resolve the problem in a way that makes everyone, if not happy, then at least satisfied their views were heard and accounted for.

It is in this context that an old proposal is being resuscitated. The Japanese edition of the Mainichi Shimbun is reporting that a book to be published next month includes the suggestion that the spirits of the Yasukuni 14 be transferred to the Togo Shinto shrine in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. The Togo refers to the tutelary diety of the shrine, Admiral Togo Heihachiro, who defeated the Russian fleet during the 1905 war. The author of the book is Matsuhashi Teruo, the former chief priest at the Togo shrine. The Mainichi thought the idea was worth an article because it is unusual for a person prominent in the Shinto hierarchy to offer such a suggestion for public debate.

It’s also not the first time he’s floated this idea. He initially brought it up during the anti-Japanese demonstrations and rioting in China and South Korea in 2005, but he held his tongue when the Association of Shinto Shrines (link also on right sidebar), asked him to stop. He began to speak out in public again after leaving his position at the Togo shrine in April 2007.

The view of the association, which oversees about 80,000 shrines nationwide, is that Shinto doctrine prevents the separation of the enshrined spirits. The Mainichi Shimbun, however, observes that if an influential shrine affiliated with the association offered to accept the spirits of the Yasukuni 14, it would encourage public debate over separation as a solution.

Mr. Matsuhashi makes the point in his book that the Yasukuni enshrinement invites the opposition of China and other countries, and the problem will linger even if future prime ministers refrain from their occasional August visits. Now that the dispute has settled down, he says, it is time to seriously consider the idea.

His proposal calls for the Yasukuni 14 to be placed in the care of the smaller Umi no Miya shrine (photo) on the Togo shrine grounds, which also exhibits a display of panels depicting scenes from the Admiral’s life. Offering some Shinto doctrinal interpretation of his own, Mr. Matsuhashi says that even if the spirits remain in the Yasukuni shrine as the agency insists they must, the families could regard them has having been moved to the Togo shrine and freely venerate them in their new location. The Chinese would view this as a sincere response, he believes, which would defuse the situation and prevent them from playing the Yasukuni card.

Mr. Matsuhashi agrees with the association’s opposition to a new national facility to replace Yasukuni. Diet member and former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary―General Koga Makoto (a faction leader), who is the chairman of the Nippon Izokukai, an association for bereaved families of the nation’s war dead, also has suggested that the 14 be enshrined separately. His association set up a study group in May 2007 to discuss the issue.

The Togo Shrine

The idea to dedicate a shrine to Admiral Togo arose after other shrines were built to honor another Russo-Japanese War hero, Count Nogi Maresuke, who commanded the Imperial Army forces that laid siege to Port Arthur. Admiral Togo himself didn’t care for the suggestion, mostly because he was still alive when the talk began, and enshrinement is an honor accorded only to the dead.

The Tokyo shrine was dedicated on 27 May 1940, which at that time was Navy Day. The main building was destroyed in the war, but it was rebuilt and rededicated in May 1964.

One reason the Togo Shrine might be considered an appropriate destination for the Yasukuni 14 is that it was granted the same special governmental status as the Yasukuni Shrine before the war. That status was revoked in 1945 because there was nothing left of the shrine by then.

The admiral is the primary tutelary deity at another Togo shrine in Fukutsu, Fukuoka. Evidently, the Association of Shinto Shrines accepts the idea that one person/spirit can be enshrined in more than one facility, but rejects the idea that 14 spirits can’t be sundered from 2.5 million and placed into a separate facility for the same purpose. Perhaps some Shintoists are just as capable of counting pinhead dancers as any Christian, Jew, or Moslem.

Many naval personnel pay homage to the spirit of the admiral at both shrines, but the Tokyo shrine also is visited by people in the iron and steel industry, students sitting for entrance exams, and gamblers. They offer prayers to the admiral’s spirit in the hope that some of his strength and good luck will rub off on them.

And that might tell you all you need to know. When the gamblers outnumber Imperial diehards, the Chinese or the Koreans really don’t have much to worry about.

40 Responses to “Free the Yasukuni 14!”

  1. L said

    You know, people talk about evil this and evil that, and the winning country or sides or Allies or whatever can do and say as they please since they won the war.

    But at the same time, I think the world must wonder why they let somebody like Tom Cruise to resurrect such nasty villains as the Nazis and re-create such horrendous moments in human history by making ANOTHER film about Hitler, and making money with it!!!

  2. Overthinker said

    Interesting to see if there will be a serious theological debate on moving souls, or if Yasukuni’s excuses will be shown up. Another thing Yasukuni could do is set up its own sub-shrine, like the ones it has in its grounds already, but this time in a different place. Give it a different name, and mainland media will almost certainly not realise.

    Can’t find any immediate reference to Togo not desiring enshrinement as he was still alive at the time (though he was opposed, as was Yonai and Yamamoto), but did find an interesting titbit: he is credited with creating niku-jaga.

  3. Overthinker said

    L: Tom Cruise’s film is about a Nazi who tried to kill Hitler. It is not a glorification of Nazism. Still less of Hitler.

  4. Bender said

    Interesting to see if there will be a serious theological debate on moving souls, or if Yasukuni’s excuses will be shown up.

    I’m also wondering who’s going to have authority on the theological questions. Maybe these guys, but Yasukuni seems to be independent from them:

    http://www.jinjahoncho.or.jp/en/

    Another way to solve this is stop going to Yasukuni: have PMs go to a war-dead memorial unconnected with Yasukuni. I know Yomiuri advocates this.

  5. James A said

    Personally, I find it would be an insult to Togo’s legacy by stuffing the Yasukuni 14 into the Admiral’s shrine. He’s much more highly regarded (The Nelson of the East) than the 14.

    Recently the Yasukuni issue hasn’t even drifted into view. It’s one of those petty arguments blown out of proportion by media hacks and then briskly consigned to the trash-bin of journalism. Lee Myung Bak is taking a more moderate foreign policy approach, so are the Chinese. In the meantime, Mike Honda will have to find other issues to get votes for his next term in Congress. If Yasukuni does come up again, it’ll look even weaker than it did when the issue died down a couple years ago.

  6. Durf said

    Evidently, the Association of Shinto Shrines accepts the idea that one person/spirit can be enshrined in more than one facility, but rejects the idea that 14 spirits can’t be sundered from 2.5 million and placed into a separate facility for the same purpose.

    I’ve heard the official position presented as “it isn’t like removing blocks that have been added to a pile; it’s like trying to remove drops of water added to a bucket.” Once the kami get in there they’re all muddled up, or something.

    @ Bender (4): The prime ministers do tend to go take part in ceremonies at Chidorigafuchi, which is as inoffensive as you could ask for. The government does go through a steady cycle of “studying the possibility” of establishing yet another public facility without the stigma of Yasukuni; I sat in on a bunch of meetings one year (this was under Koizumi I believe) and translated the study group’s report, which came to nothing.

  7. slim said

    Hell isn’t good enough for the 14?

  8. tornadoes28 said

    The war ended over 60 years ago. Yes it was terrible and should never be forgotten, especially by those most affected such as China and Korea. But they really need to get over it already and move on.

  9. Overthinker said

    Slim: no. The Yasukuni 14 are the A-class, but that doesn’t mean the “most evil.” They’re the ones that planned and led the war, rather than directly committing atrocities. “Crimes against peace” was their charge.

    As to that “water” thing, the obvious answer is to make it all up (since it’s made up in the first place) and say that their souls HAVE been moved.

  10. Not an apologist said

    Anpontan-

    The reason you view this recent move as ‘curious’ is that you are not (I will be charitable) aware of one of the major issues surrounding Yasukuni. Many families of those enshrined in Yasukuni, in particular families from former subject colonies of the Japanese empire, have presented claims against the shrine association demanding that their ancestors be de-enshrined.

    The line of the shrine association in this matter has consistently been that these spirits are ‘merged’ with the other spirits which dwell at Yasukuni and cannot be removed. As I am sure you aware, these former colonial subjects are in Yasukuni on the supposed basis of their deaths as loyal subjects to the emperor. Yasukuni de facto does not feel that families of the dead ought to have any say in this matter. In this context Yasukuni is not ‘trivial.’

    In this context, the move to transfer class-A war criminals to the Togo Jinja is based on a simple logic of deference to the government. By not directly contradicting the claim that the class-A war criminals are ‘merged’ and cannot be removed, it gives the appearance of theological consistency on the part of Yasukuni. More importantly, it presents aggreived families with an alternative (enshrine your ancestor with Admiral Togo instead) which they will not seek and cannot use as a basis for negotiation.

    Some of the families who wish to have their ancestors removed from Yasukuni are from indigenous Taiwanese groups, who were subject to policies during the colonial period that were arguably, in contemporary legal terminology, genocidal and/or ethnocidal. In this context, I leave it to you to imagine why the shrine would not want to recognize this history or open it to negotiation.

    However, I consider you responsible for an explanation of why this history should not be examined and believe that you should elaborate your defense of Yasukuni in this context. It appears to me that you are deliberately avoiding discussion of this issue, but that is something which time will bear out.

  11. ampontan said

    The reason you view this recent move as ‘curious’ is that you are not (I will be charitable) aware of one of the major issues surrounding Yasukuni.

    However, I consider you responsible for an explanation of why this history should not be examined and believe that you should elaborate your defense of Yasukuni in this context. It appears to me that you are deliberately avoiding discussion of this issue…

    Nowhere in this post do I refer to any move as “curious”, nor do I use the word “trivial”. I do not consider anything discussed here either as curious or trivial. Nowhere in this post do I defend anything done by the Yasukuni shrine.

    Since I never have, and never will, suggest that any history of anything should not be examined at any time, it will regrettably not be possible for me to explain whatever it is you’re talking about.

    Finally, it is not for you to determine what I choose to write about, much less to consider me responsible for anything.

    But other than that, thanks for the note.

  12. Aceface said

    “Some of the families who wish to have their ancestors removed from Yasukuni are from indigenous Taiwanese groups, who were subject to policies during the colonial period that were arguably, in contemporary legal terminology, genocidal and/or ethnocidal. ”

    I think that is a bit of hyperbole,especially considering members of 高砂義勇隊 were volunteers.
    Not that I deny the fact that there were many brutal opression to the indigenous population being symbolized in “Wushe Incident” in 1930 and that accelarated the various assimilation policies.But that may not be classified as “genocide”.

    This issue has become fully loaded especially pro-Kuomintang groups and Chinese nationalists in Taiwan had used this issue to attack pro-independence/Taiwanese nationalist groups who are more sympathetic to enshrinement in Yasukuni like ex-president of Taiwan,Lee Teng Hui,whose brother is also enshrined.

    The leader of so-called families of the indigenous Taiwanese,Kao Chin Su-mei is a member of Legislative Yuan and a born-again native activist whose father was an ethnic Han-Chinese and a veteran of KMT army.She seems to have support from about 60 indigenous people for her cause,but greater numbers of former veteran of 高砂義勇隊 are seemingly comtempt of being their war buddies being enshrined there.

    And talk about ethnocide,I was checking on the web when Kao and her people went all the way to New York to accuse Japanese imperialism in Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues at UN and oppose Japan’s bid for permanent seat at security council.
    Chinese online media,SINA.COM was doing massive coverage on Kao visit,which was quite unusual since mainland rooted media always ignore any Taiwanese demand at UN and indigenous issues since they always relate with Tibet.
    However,in this case it was an exception.SINA.COM was doing everything they can to support her cause and unveil Japanese brutal opression to the indigenous people in Taiwan seven decades ago.
    Kao and her cause had become useful vehicle to attack Japanese and Taiwanese nationalist at the same time.
    But the best part came in the evening on the official website for the Tibetan Government in Exile in the U.S,officially condemned a SINA.COM reporter for physical assault on a Tibetan activist making a rally in front of UN headquarter demanding freedom in Tibet.

  13. Not an apologist said

    Aceface-

    Thank you for the additional information. To clarify, yes, these complaints have to do with Taiwanese domestic politics. I certainly don’t support the way that the PRC government handles these issues, and I think it works to the detriment of everyone involved.

    1. I think the issue is of individuals who would like to have their ancestors removed from the shrine.

    2. The reason I am invoking the terminology of international law is precisely so that Japan would -not- be singled out in the context of international politics. Likewise, if the government had taken the initiative on these problems a long time ago, none of this would be happening in the way it is now-which would improve the situation, for example, for Japanese nationals who would like to have their family members removed.

  14. Aceface said

    NAA:

    1)
    Agreed.The Shinto mantra is much too vague for a religion of our century.The Clerics must be more accountable for the religious and political disputes.
    Since you chose Indigenous Taiwanese as a sample,I made counterargument,but many Koreans want their grand parents name off the list,and so they should if they want to. Me think.

    2)
    I don’t think that argument stands.
    MacArthur had removed Yasukuni(and other Shinto shrines)from government control in December 15th,1945.Before that Ministry of Army and Navy had decide who would be enshrined and the names of those would later be authorized by the emperor himself.Since Yasukuni has become an independent religious body,Government of Japan can not intrude the matter since it would viloate the religious freedom protected by the constitution.

  15. Not an apologist said

    On 2.) Of course, many of the problems-e.g. the 14 people in question-we now have at Yasukuni were effectively created quite a while after the occupation ended and there’s the question of how involved the government was in creating them.

    There is also also the question of who is retroactively responsible for the pre-1945 Empire’s actions-the high court has tended to say ‘nobody’ with non-Japanese nationals (I think the last time was with Hansen’s Disease sufferers) but there is no consensus on this among jurists as far as I know. Because of the way that Yasukuni handles enshrinement, it would probably have to be taken on a case-by-case basis.

    And of course, I’d wholeheartedly agree that the occupation shares quite a lot of responsibility for this problem as well.

  16. Aceface said

    “there’s the question of how involved the government was in creating them.”

    Yeah,I’ve read the National Diet Library’s Yasukuni papers.But here I’m with Shinzo Abe.
    Ministry of Health and Welfare was just being “counsulted”which was natural since only they have the ability to search the record of KIA in overseas and trackdown the families in Japan.
    Some(and most of the media)tweeds conspiracy theory from this fact,but nobody opposed this until mid seventies(back in the 60’s,even the Socialist Party of Japan had national convention in Kudan Kaikan,the former veteran association hall now owned by 日本遺族会) and both China and Korea opposed this two decades afterwards.

    The reasons of such perception gaps are
    1)Asian people discovered their “rights” only after there civic society matured
    which took time until there economy take off.
    2)Historical disputes tend to evolve as the discusson gets deepened
    3)Chinese and Korean governments have been using history as bargaining tips
    against Tokyo for diplomatic reasons.

    For those reasons above,I have no intentions of blaming the responsipilities of GHQ during the occupation days.

    And as you’ve said if there are no consensus on legal issues and Yasukuni tends to use religion to back down the criticism,this issue can only be solved by clarifying the raison d’etre of Yasukuni.In another words,enshrinement at Yasukuni is primarily to honor the dead for the KIAs and secondary to meet the demand of their families and friends.If this is to be done,both the shrine and the families can find the foundation of their negotiations.

  17. Not an apologist said

    I think the absence of controversy until the mid-70’s has to do with a) the fact that Taiwan and South Korea were under dictatorships that didn’t exactly allow extensive discussion of foreign policy and b) the war criminals weren’t enshrined there until 1978.

    I don’t actually know the Taiwanese case that well, but in the South Korean case you have to keep in mind that the characterization of the democratic transition is very politically loaded also. In the South Korean context, the idea that ‘civil society matured along with the economy’ is associated with substantive support for the Park dictatorship (nobody supports Chun). The other view is that it was/is a citizen revolution, that occurred despite of and in opposition to economic developmentalism.

    Likewise, the Chinese government plays down protest against Japan, France etc, even if it is cynical in the way it negatively treats Japan in the press and education system. A lot of times there is a big difference between what a protest in China claims to be about and what the actual surrounding issues are (though this is also true, for different reasons, in Japan…) The so-called ‘New Left’ in China, say 孫歌 and 汪晖 is very good on this point. 佐藤優’s piece in the last Shukan Kinyobi is pretty good on this kind of diplomacy, even if you don’t like Shukan Kinyobi in general.

    My point is that you can see the anger about Yasukuni in former colonies as coming ‘from below’ more easily than you can see it coming ‘from above.’

    And yes, the ambiguous situation of Yasukuni right now needs to be clarified-but the point is that this is part of the ambiguities that were created in the postwar period by not having clear assignments of war responsibility. GHQ policy played a big role in this.

  18. Not an apologist said

    PS-I don’t know why that Kaomoji appeared in the post.

  19. Not an apologist said

    Incidentally,while I apologize for misattributing one word of his post, Ampotan’s refusal to say anything on this issue, one which he understands perfectly well, speaks volumes about the relationship between American rehabilitation of the Japanese right and the continued problems at Yasukuni.

  20. Aceface said

    Ampontan has his ideas,You have yours and this is his blog.Both you and I are allowed to express messages for Ampontan is allowing us to do so.Let’s stop shooting messenger.

    Back to the subject.

    I think without “relationship between American rehabilitation of the Japanese right”,I’m pretty sure the political landscape of East Asia could have been more different.
    Different for the worse,I mean.

    There would probably be no dictators in both Taiwan and South Korea,had no U.S presence in Japan supported by the LDP.No dictators in former Japanese colony means they would be overrun by the communists.No economic progress,no democracy,no Yasukuni disputes.

    I would also want point out the Japanese right who honor millions of souls at Yasukuni in post-war Japan is different from autocrats in pre-1945 who send millions of souls TO Yasukuni.
    They were better than their cousins in former colonies like Park Chung Hee or Chiang Ching Kuo.Since more or less they’ve accepted democracy and freedom of speech that,both intentionally or unintentionally,ignited debate on Japanese collective war memory to be reexamined.

    All this is the outcome of American intrusion of Japan affairs in the post war period.It certainly has flows,but I still think positive in general.

  21. bender said

    the high court has tended to say ‘nobody’ with non-Japanese nationals

    Not true. The courts tend to accept the Japanese government’s defense that individual claims have been settled through bilateral treaties. You’re mixing up what the court says to Japanese nationals. For Japanese nationals, the courts do say “tough luck”- everyone suffered during the war, so individuals can’t get compensated unless the legislature decides to do so.

    Ampotan’s refusal to say anything on this issue, one which he understands perfectly well, speaks volumes about the relationship between American rehabilitation of the Japanese right and the continued problems at Yasukuni.

    So USA is to blame? That’s a classic, “blame America”, but I have to ask “what for”? You talk as though America supported some despotic regime, but as far as Japan goes, it was one of American-imposed transformations that went quite well. Also, you probably think Japan got a windfall because of its US relations, but you completely disregard the fact that Japan did compensate through bilateral treaties with countries it occupied. If you think that this is not enough, that’s a legitimate point to make, but your argument falls short of this.

  22. Not an apologist said

    “Not true. The courts tend to accept the Japanese government’s defense that individual claims have been settled through bilateral treaties. You’re mixing up what the court says to Japanese nationals. For Japanese nationals, the courts do say “tough luck”- everyone suffered during the war, so individuals can’t get compensated unless the legislature decides to do so.”

    Fair enough-I misunderstood the sovereignty issues, and should have said ‘Japanese nationals.’ But the original context of the argument was about Yasukuni, which is within Japan.

    “You talk as though America supported some despotic regime, but as far as Japan goes, it was one of American-imposed transformations that went quite well. ”

    That is not what I was implying. My point was that in order to support the Japanese government on Yasukuni as a diplomatic issue, American conservatives have to look the other way on the concrete and personal injustices involved. How that implies that postwar Japan is a ‘despotic regime’ is beyond me.

    I’m not quite sure what your point about my thinking that ‘Japan got a windfall because of its US relations’ is. It is true that the US has supported rather a large number of despotic regimes, however. Japan paid reparations to at least one of them-though it’s hardly a ‘fact’ that it ‘compensated’ (whom?) the individuals who are currently bringing suit by doing so.

  23. Bender said

    My point was that in order to support the Japanese government on Yasukuni as a diplomatic issue, American conservatives have to look the other way on the concrete and personal injustices involved.

    When did the US support Yasukuni? Sounds awfully delusional to find fault with Americans over this issue. Why should America even care?

  24. ampontan said

    American conservatives looking the other way? You mean, like George Will, as described here?

    Not an apologist? Or not a careful reader?

  25. Aceface said

    “Japan paid reparations to at least one of them-though it’s hardly a ‘fact’ that it ‘compensated’ (whom?) the individuals who are currently bringing suit by doing so.”

    I think both Tokyo and Seoul had agreed that compensation to individuals would be conducted by the resposibility of the Korean government.I understand the money was used for nation building more than it should be.

  26. ampontan said

    The Korean government did compensate the families of people who were killed or lost property. Since some women signed up voluntarily, or who were sold by their fathers–according to even some Koreans, the majority–it’s not possible to verify stories.

  27. Not an apologist said

    Ampontan-

    My point was that Will et. al. prefer to represent the problems at Yasukuni as politically inexpedient rather than as issues of restorative justice. They do not want to recognize that there are still individuals whose lives have been irrevocably damaged by Japanese actions and that these people make political demands. As a consequence, they do not talk about these individuals. This is what I have been saying consistently throughout this thread.

    Before casting aspersions on peoples’ ability to read carefully, you should bother to understand what they’re saying first.

    That said, Ampontan, again, what is your position on individuals who want to have their ancestors dis-enshrined?

    And Aceface-

    I pretty much agree to what you are saying-the problem is the legitimacy of the previous military governments is a divisive question in South Korea. The gap in power between South Korea and Japan when the Normalization Treaty was signed then was also much greater than today.

  28. Bender said

    They do not want to recognize that there are still individuals whose lives have been irrevocably damaged by Japanese actions and that these people make political demands. As a consequence, they do not talk about these individuals. This is what I have been saying consistently throughout this thread.

    I don’t see how dis-enshrinement and reparation issues could be connected. If a “soul” is dis-enshrined at Yasukuni, is reparation done?

    And “they”- you mean Americans, right? What does America has to do with Yasukuni? Is it America’s responsibility to make Japan keep a low profile so its neighbors won’t be upset? Surely not.

  29. Bender said

    Correction:
    What does America “have” to do with Yasukuni?

  30. nigelboy said

    Can a person who was baptised as an infant have it annulled?

    My take on Yasukuni is that if you don’t believe in it, ignore it.

    The relatives who are complaining about deshrinement are doing so because they want their grandfather or great grandfather name dissasociated with the negative image associated with the IJA, knowing well that most of them were willing participants at that time.

  31. Not an apologist said

    “I don’t see how dis-enshrinement and reparation issues could be connected. If a “soul” is dis-enshrined at Yasukuni, is reparation done?”

    I didn’t say that they were connected. I raised the issue of reparations in a tangent, and -you- pursued it.

    “And “they”- you mean Americans, right? What does America has to do with Yasukuni? Is it America’s responsibility to make Japan keep a low profile so its neighbors won’t be upset? Surely not.”

    Er, doesn’t the US have a stake in the state of diplomatic affairs in East Asia? Isn’t that why it has all those troops stationed there? Anyway, I’m not quite sure where the accusation of paternalism is coming from, since all I’ve said is that American conservatives give tacit support to Japanese conservatives in specific ways.

  32. Not an apologist said

    ooops-for ‘reparations,’ ‘compensation’ is better.

  33. mac said

    Thank you for Aceface in post 12 for adding an excellent and precise critique of propagandistic hyperbole that the West is all too easy victim to. Call me a naive pragmatist in spiritualistic matters, as well as a self-loathing resident alien of a running dog of Western imperialist, but I cant see the problem in praying for souls – existing, damned or not – that need it.

    Let us examine those individuals who want their complicit ancestors dis-enshrined and see if they really believe in the soul, reincarnation and what it means. It strikes me to pander to them is only to encourage racism. Given the price of Tokyo real estate, and the general standard of customer service, I am pretty sure that they are getting a far better deal here than they would be anywhere else.

    I am really turned off by the Post-Christian, Post- Enlightenment condescension of the West that poo-poos on pagan “ancestor worship” and winds up the critique for the set up victims of their own Imperial politics. As far as I can see, it serves a far more complex practise including; veneration, appeasement, personal shame and overcoming grief. That it should all be turned into a political ping-pong … it strikes me that the souls and families of alleged “criminals”, albeit politically set up ones, need prayer more than the souls of saints.

    Looking at the national tendencies involved, I would have to ask if one risks feeding the beast … where will it ever stop?

    A friend’s father was interned in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. He said the Japanese were tough but the Koreans were much worse. Utter sadists. Considering that many allies could not tell the difference, I wonder how many individual ‘crimes’ were assigned to “the Japanese” that actually lay with individual Koreans.

    I could see the issue from a legal perspective. If one gives way even the smallest amount, it then open the door to even greater claims. And if those claims have already been legally settled, or are now the responsibility of other nations, then the discussion is closed.

    Even if one takes on board “the soul” “the spirit realm” or “reincarnation” … both theories question whether the individuals involved actually know who they are right now, both suggest they will have paid for their individual karma and neither are geographically limited. National states, the material worlds are only figments of our imagination and so those individuals are being given a lesson on overcoming this worldly Maya by letting go. So, yes, the argument is as ridiculous as “angels on a pinhead” one and as the accused “Crimes against peace”. The war with Japan was a set up in the Game of Nations..

    The interest element to me in all these fairly standardised “holocaust industries”, is the one of time. Why one action in a certain timeframe is more valid or interesting than one set in a different timeframe. Why a death 60 years ago is more lamentable than one 250 years ago or 20 years ago. This is humanity, look back far enough and all of our families have been murdering, thieving rapists …

  34. Bender said

    Er, doesn’t the US have a stake in the state of diplomatic affairs in East Asia? Isn’t that why it has all those troops stationed there? Anyway, I’m not quite sure where the accusation of paternalism is coming from, since all I’ve said is that American conservatives give tacit support to Japanese conservatives in specific ways.

    And just when did American conservatives support enshrinement of Class A war criminals? Unless they vocally object, is it a “tacit support”? How is that different from demanding paternalism?

    I didn’t say that they were connected. I raised the issue of reparations in a tangent, and -you- pursued it.

    What, a red herring?

  35. Aceface said

    “The gap in power between South Korea and Japan when the Normalization Treaty was signed then was also much greater than today.”

    Yeah,I’ve heard about this numbers of times discussing this issue with Korean friends.
    But isn’t economic gap between South Korea and Japan in 1964 or whether it was military regime or not is basically secondary issue,or at least they are Korean domestic matters?

    I believe you would agree with me that delaying the normalization until 1987,when the South Korean democracy started,would benefited no one,most of all the ex-victims of Colonialization.

    And you also have to put into consideration Japan’s constructive role on South Korea’s progressive development in the past four decades,which is easliy neglected.
    South Korean economic miracle only started after Park got power and recieved “economic cooperation” from Tokyo in 1964.
    No money from Tokyo,No Korea Inc.No Korea Inc,bigger the gap between Japan and Korea.
    And like I’ve said,there would be no democracy had there no economic development in South Korea with educated middleclass in the society.

    There are strange mix of moralism Koreans are demanding which is impossible for any Japanese to fulfill all at the same time.

  36. Not an apologist said

    “Yeah,I’ve heard about this numbers of times discussing this issue with Korean friends.
    But isn’t economic gap between South Korea and Japan in 1964 or whether it was military regime or not is basically secondary issue,or at least they are Korean domestic matters?”

    Absolutely-but domestic matters are important in international politics, particularly when the country you are talking to has very divided left/right politics like in Korea. For example, Koizumi’s actions vis a vis Korea during the Roh administration, at best, gave the impression that Japan was throwing its support behind the GNP and rejecting Uri.

    That could be interpreted to mean a lot of things in Korea, but it certainly isn’t good diplomacy.

  37. Not an apologist said

    at best, gave the impression that Japan was throwing its support behind the GNP and rejecting Uri.

    For example, read ‘GNP’ as gross national product’ and Uri as 我々。

  38. Aceface said

    “Uri”means the Uri party of which Rho had founded when he broke up with the democrats.”GNP” means Grand National Party,the opposition.No?

    “Absolutely-but domestic matters are important in international politics”

    But how the Korean domestic politics interprets the Japanese action for historical reconciliation is basically beyond our responsibility.It is supposed to be the responsibility of Korean politicians and media,however they are hardly reliable in this issues and that complicates the relation with Korea,I think.

    Which led us to the conclusions that Koreans are not ready for the reconciliation or even has no intention of such action from the first place,for the war gulit would allow them enourmous leverage on Japan in bilateral relations.
    It even has effect beyond bilateral relations lately.Koreans and Chinese blaming Washington for “being soft on Japanese”can be interpreted in many ways.but one of the explanation is to put wedge between U.S-Japanese relation for the benefit of their national interest.

    That,along with other reasons,I reject American responsibility on Yasukuni issues.

  39. Bender said

    Absolutely-but domestic matters are important in international politics, particularly when the country you are talking to has very divided left/right politics like in Korea.

    Why should only Japan be wary of Korean domestic politics? Why not Korea be wary of Japan’s, too? Why the double standard?

    For example, Koizumi’s actions vis a vis Korea during the Roh administration, at best, gave the impression that Japan was throwing its support behind the GNP and rejecting Uri.

    Obviously, it was the Roh administration that distanced itself from Japan and the US. I see your dislike of America and Japan, but let’s be more objective, shall we?

  40. Bender said

    Aceface:

    That,along with other reasons,I reject American responsibility on Yasukuni issues.

    Absolutely. America is not going to take sides. How on earth could that be “supportive” of the Japanese cause? I see the classic “blame America” at play here…

    BTW, America did warn the Japan government regarding the comfort woman issue through its Ambassador. Maybe the Ambassador did it out of his own conscience, but still, he’s a member of the administration. Quite different from the Congressional Resolution, I’d say.

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