Japan Focus: Yasukuni Shrine, Nationalism and Japan’s International Relations

From The Japan Focus:

For twenty years, Prime Ministerial visits to Yasukuni Shrine, have provided a flash point for Japan-China and Japan-South Korea clashes, together with conflicts over territorial and textbook issues. Yasukuni, Japan’s war memorial, is a facility with close association with the Emperor. It preserves the remains of Japan’s military war dead, enshrined as gods. It also includes the remains, among those of other leaders, of fourteen Class-A War Criminals convicted at the Tokyo Tribunal. With China’s emergence in the last year as Japan’s leading trade partner, the Yasukuni issue continues to poison the atmosphere between the two nations as well as those with South Korea. The issues are central both to rising Japanese nationalism and to diplomatic relations throughout East Asia. Pressure is building within Japan to resolve the Yasukuni issue. One sign of this is the recent statement by Lower House Speaker Kono Yohei and five former prime ministers urging caution in visiting the shrine to avoid further deterioration of Japan’s ties with neighboring countries. The five former prime ministers are Kaifu Toshiki, Miyazawa Kiichi, Murayama Tomiichi, Hashimoto Ryutaro and Mori Yoshiro. Recent editorials from the Yomiuri Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun highlight important parameters of the debate.

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