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Abe Won't Visit Controversial Shrine Tomorrow

Reports in east Asia are already emerging that say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won’t visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo tomorrow, the day Japanese ministers and politicians and civilians pay tribute to the country’s war dead. Abe will instead make a personal gift to the shrine. Abe has said that his decision not to visit the shrine when he was Prime Minister in 2006 was “extremely regrettable,” so why not correct the omission this time around?

Japanese media are reporting that Abe chose not to visit the shrine this year to avoid further alienating China and South Korea, which view visits by Japanese politicians to the shrine as a direct diplomatic insult. Even so, a similar offering at Japan’s spring festival in April infuriated Beijing and Seoul. China’s government-run Global Times newspaper is already putting a negative spin on the story:

The fine line taken by Abe is still deemed unacceptable by neighboring countries such as China and South Korea, who have been the most watchful toward the sensitive occasion in recent years as Tokyo slips further to the right under the hawkish Abe administration.

Lee Jong-won, a South Korean professor teaching at the Tokyo-based Waseda University, told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday that Abe’s money offering “signals to inside and outside Japan that his conservative stance is not modified.”

Lee also said, “That also means he implies he could visit the shrine anytime during his term, just not this time.”

Even if the move fails to appease anyone, it could still be a sign of the Abe administration’s intention to improve relations with South Korea and China. It may even signal an inclination to avoid antagonizing the US, which doesn’t want to see its ally escalating tensions in the region.

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  • Federale

    Sonnojoi! It is none of the concern of Chinese communists or Korea where any Japanese person choses to practice his religion or to express his love of his country. The real anger should be directed at Chinese expansionism, not Japan’s resistance to said expansionism.

    • Thirdsyphon

      I disagree. After the way Japan disgraced itself in World War II (and all the rest of humanity, by mere association), Koreans and Chinese -and we Americans, for that matter- are *very much* entitled to think and say whatever we care to about that conflict, as well as on the subjects of Japanese nationalism, militarism, and sundry other vilenesses (like the “Sonnonojoi” philosophy) to numerous to recount here.

      If Abe (or you, for that matter) want the world to stay focused on Chinese expansionism, you would do well to stop giving the rest of us occasion to question the wisdom of permitting Japan to rearm.

      • Federale

        And the Chinese have never disgraced themselves by vile behavior? Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, communist takeover, invasions of Tibet and Vietnam, etc.

      • Tim Godfrey

        I fail to see why Japanese nationalists are any worse than the extremists that are part of every country (tea party ring a bell?).

        There is one threat to peace in pacific today: China.

        Japan’s politicians may play political games but that is all they are: games. Japan is committed to the international system.

        • Tom

          As far as I know, no one in the Tea Party has said anything regarding necessity of sex slavery.

          • Tim Godfrey

            Well tea parties speak in English so they don’t have deal with bad translations that lose nuance. In this case, Hashimoto was talking about soldiers having access to prostitutes. The only difference between Japanese and allied forces on that front is the Japanese Army made itself culpable by directly running the brothels. The Japanese Army should have simply did what the Americas do which is let the local organized crime gangs run them. In the end it is the same – soldiers have access to prostitutes (a.k.a sex slaves).

          • Tom

            Japanese method: Round up women at gunpoint. Drag to brothel. Rape repeatedly. Do not pay anyone except administrative staff.
            American method: Have unofficial brothel with paid workers. Or, at the very worst, do not give official imprimatur to serial raping.
            Yes, I see the moral equivalence now.

          • Tim Godfrey

            Where is the evidence that women at American brothels were actually paid (as opposed to the “administrators” that ran the brothels)?

            If fact, it unlikely that they were since the practice of “buying” girls from their families (i.e. the families get money instead of the girls) persists to this day.

            Like I said. The only difference between the Japanese and Americans is the Americans let the local mafia do the enslavement.

            Also: US soldiers that went brothels populated by girls forced in to prostitution by a criminal gang are serial rapists too.

            Your hypocrisy is breathtaking.

          • Tom

            Evidence, please?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Thirdsyphon is spot on here….
      Let me add that when the Japanese truly come to terms with their WWII behavior (as the Germans have done), I will be a lot more inclined to ‘cut them some slack’, but until then…no dice

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