China Sea Update: Temperature Rising
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  • Luke Lea

    From my reading I gather the Chinese are extremely hot-tempered on the subject of Japan. Memories of the Japanese occupation — both real and imagined — might be exploited by unscrupulous politicians jockeying for power. Let’s hope it don’t happen.

  • Curtis

    it was called the rape of nanking. did you miss that?

  • John C.

    Something that a lot of non-Japanese don’t know is that one of the reasons for the annual visits to the Yasukuni shrine is to keep the spirits there content to STAY there, instead of going abroad to cause more trouble. On that level, the Japanese are afraid to NOT make the annual visits. Since hardly anyone outside of Japan is Shinto, they have no appreciation for this.

  • Punditarian

    Professor,

    I think your description overstates the case:

    ” The shrine honors a number of convicted war criminals . . .”

    Yasukuni is a shrine to all of Japan’s war dead, all of those who have fallen in the service of the Emperor. According to the Wikipedia, its registry currently includes the names of “over 2,466,000 enshrined men and women whose lives were dedicated to the service of Imperial Japan, particularly to those killed in wartime.”

    And according to Shinto belief, once enshrined, the kami or spirit cannot be evicted.

    After the enshrinement of the kami of 14 “Class A” war criminals, including Hideki Tojo, in 1978, the Showa Emperor stopped visiting the shrine.

    It was the publicized visits of Japanese politicians (Prime Minister Koizumi, in August 2001 and the following spring) that created controversies.

    President Reagan’s visit to the Bitburg Cemetery in Germany might be viewed in a similar light. I have heard that US State Department officials knew that former SS members were interred there, but did not tell the White House in time to change the President’s itinerary.

    And I daresay that there are men interred at Arlington, whose exploits might give some observers pause.

    The shrine visits, and the disputes over islands, are stand-ins, I think, for serious and irreconciliable geopolitical rivalries.

  • D

    John C. and Pundititarian make excellent point, and I would like to make another…

    “Every year on August 15, the date of Japan’s surrender in World War II”

    is FACT, but also not the point.
    In most areas of Japan 08/15 is Obon or the Bon Festival, which is a festival where most people return to their families to honor the spirits of the Ancestors… in other words visiting the graves of the dead. For that reason they would visit the graves of the many who have died in service to Japan.

    Perhaps to outsiders it is not politically correct to visit the graves of war dead, especially ones later convicted of war crimes. But at least we should struggle to understand what it means.

    The other Asian countries understand well the dates and timing… it doesn’t matter to them if there are good reasons or bad. South Korea is demanding that the Emperor apologize again, as if that will change the past… and China will probably never forgive. But the bad blood between those countries goes back 1000 years, it isn’t about what happened in WWII.

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