Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
In the wake of the arson attack against his mother’s house by a Japanese far rightist suspect, lawmaker Koichi Kato, who opposes Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, is quoted saying that the Prime Minister’s successor “should refrain from paying homage at Yasukuni out of consideration of sentiment in other Asian countries that suffered under Japan’s past militarism,” (“Following arson attack, Kato warns of ‘dangerous’ nationalism emerging”).
So much is written about the Prime Minister’s childishly provocative visits. But I think that talk of avoiding hurting the feelings of Chinese and other Asian victims has always been completely off the mark, not to mention a typically Japanese way of talking about the issue. The Prime Minister’s visits offend the sentiments of all people everywhere, including Japanese.
And here is why. The Pacific War was a crime, started by Japan and waged in a criminal manner by criminals. That - not“Victor’s Justice” - is the reason for the war crimes trials in its aftermath. For the Prime Minister to pay homage at Yasukuni is akin to paying homage to crime. It is a very bizarre behavior for a civilized nation, unless one admits to one’s thinking the proposition that civility is just another pretense and fiction of Japanese culture. A comparison in America might be if President George Bush stubbornly insisted on paying annual birthday visits to Charles Manson, or in Germanyif Chancellor Merkel visited Hitler’s grave (if he had one).
From an international relations perspective, Mr. Koizumi’s continuing habit of honoring the perpetrators of a crime might be said to contribute to Japan’s reputation in the world for moral obtuseness.