Controversies Surrounding Yasukuni Shrine

Controversies Surrounding Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Jinja is a Shinto shrine that is at the center of an international controversy. It is a shrine to war dead who served the Emperor of Japan during wars from 1867–1951. This eligibility includes civilians in service and government officials. Yasukuni is a shrine to house the actual souls of the dead as Kami, or "spirits/souls" as loosely defined in the English words. Furthermore it is believed that all negative or evil acts committed are absolved when enshrinement occurs. This activity is strictly a religious matter since the religious separation of State Shinto and the Japanese Government. The priesthood at the shrine has complete religious autonomy to decide to whom and how enshrinement may occur. It is thought that enshrinement is permanent and irreversible by the current clergy. Due to the enshrinement of International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) war criminals and the nationalist approach to the war museum, the Yasukuni Shrine and the Japanese Government have been criticized by China, Korea, and Taiwan as being revisionist and unapologetic about the events of World War II.

Of the 2,466,532 people contained in the shrine's Book of Souls, 1,068 were convicted of war crimes by a post World War II court. Of those, 14 are convicted Class A war criminals ("crime against peace"). The war crimes tribunals were carried out by the IMTFE, which comprised the victors of World War II including Australia, Canada, the Republic of China, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The main problems arose from how the IMTFE used a method of information collection called "Best Evidence Rule" that allowed simple hearsay with no secondary support to be entered against the accused. The Indian Justice Radha Binod Pal found that due to the significant procedural flaws of the proceedings, that the court was an invalid form of victor's justice and revenge. As these problems with the tribunals left much to be argued about convicting the accused, and that the living convicted criminals were all released from prison by 1958 gave many Japanese people a reason to believe that they were not war criminals. The opinion of victor's justice was based on that there were none of the victors facing tribunals for mass civilian killings in firebombings of major cities, the mass deaths of non-repatriated Japanese soldiers, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Furthermore Justice Pal's position was that as none of the defeated countries would sit in judgment of their own people, as it could never be considered fair. Five of the 11 judges released dissenting opinions. No justice on the court disagreed as to the scale and horrifying nature of the atrocities of the war.

A more recent source of controversy, visits to the shrine by Japanese Diet cabinet members and Prime Ministers in particular have been a cause of protest in Japan and abroad. China, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan have protested against various visits since 1985. Despite the controversy, the former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made annual personal (non government) visits from 2001 to 2006.

Read more about Controversies Surrounding Yasukuni Shrine:  Release of Documents, War Criminals, Yūshūkan War Museum, Izokukai, Politicians' Visits, Political Impact, Debate in Japan, Textbook Controversy, Removal of The Names, Prime Minister's Visits, Emperor Shōwa's Visits, New Memorial, Yasukuni Documentary Controversy, December 2011 Arson Attack

Famous quotes containing the words surrounding and/or shrine:

    Thus when I come to shape here at this table between my hands the story of my life and set it before you as a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulate ghosts who keep up their hauntings by day and night ... shadows of people one might have been; unborn selves.
    Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)

    The United Nations cannot do anything, and never could; it is not an animate entity or agent. It is a place, a stage, a forum and a shrine ... a place to which powerful people can repair when they are fearful about the course on which their own rhetoric seems to be propelling them.
    Conor Cruise O’Brien (b. 1917)