Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Yasukuni Shrine

On May 16th, 2005, Japan’s Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, said that he saw nothing wrong with visiting the Yasukuni Shrine where convicted and executed war criminals form Japan’s World War II Imperial army are buried. In defending his upcoming visit to the controversial shrine, the right-wing Koizumi said, "We must not forget, even in these peaceful times, the sacrifice of those who went unwillingly to war and lost their lives. Even now I do not understand why it is improper to offer respect and gratitude to all the war dead." Perhaps someone should remind Mr. Koizumi that the Yasukuni Shrine outside of Tokyo is the burial ground for more than 1,000 convicted war criminals, including the executed wartime Prime Minister, General Hideki Tojo and 13 other class-A war criminals. It may be that Mr. Koizumi needs to be reminded that General Tojo commanded Japan’s military as it slaughtered hundreds of thousands in its brutal occupation of China and Korea, that Tojo was a far right admirer of Nazi Germany, or that Tojo ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. On the official website of the ultra-nationalist Yasukuni Shrine, it is explained that those executed were "cruelly and unjustly tried as war criminals by a sham-like tribunal of the Allied forces". If Mr. Koizumi cannot "understand why it is improper" for him to visit Yasukuni Shrine, there are millions of people around the world who would like to help him comprehend just why his visits to the shrine are infuriating and outrageous.

Bush & Koizumi

But it’s a certainty that Mr. Koizumi will not be getting any history lessons from President George W. Bush, who is elated Koizumi has ignored Japan’s pacifist constitution forbidding the projection of military power beyond Japan’s borders. Koizumi has deployed troops from Japan’s Self-Defense Force to occupied Iraq, and apparently Bush is so grateful that he’s even willing to forget that Tojo’s soldiers fired on and nearly killed his father during the second world war. George Bush Senior was a bomber pilot in 1944, and his plane was shot down by the Japanese air force off the coast of Chichi Jima, some one thousand kilometers from Japan. Bush’s two crewmen were killed and Mr. Bush paddled a raft for more than three hours before being picked up by a US submarine. You would think Bush the younger could explain to Mr. Koizumi why saying prayers over the grave of executed war criminal General Tojo is a bad thing, but as I said, the American Commando in Chief is happy to have a friend… any friend. Since it is now acceptable for politicians to visit the graves of convicted war criminals and mass murderers, perhaps Bush and Koizumi would like to reenact what former President Ronald Reagan once did. They could visit Kolmeshohe Cemetery in Bitburg, Germany and lay a wreath of flowers on the final resting place of Hitler’s Third Reich Waffen SS. (posted by M.)