From The International Herald Tribune, via A Glimpse of the World blog:
Junichiro Koizumi has gotten one thing supremely right throughout his long tenure as prime minister of Japan. Tragedy, to paraphrase him, inevitably follows periods of isolation.
Koizumi has expended great energy dragging Japan out of its predisposition to aloofness, pushing for a greater role in world affairs – from the United Nations, where the country seeks a seat on the Security Council, to Iraq, where it stood alongside the United States, with a deployment of troops that may have seemed timidly symbolic to some, but was groundbreaking nonetheless.
Unfortunately for Japan, with one of his last acts as prime minister, Koizumi has made sure that scarcely any of this will be remembered. Boiled down to its essentials, any concise take on his place in history will begin and may even end with his singular obstinacy in visiting Yasukuni Jinja, the controversial shrine to the soldiers who have fallen in Japan’s modern wars, and most famously 14 Class A war criminals. [Full Text]
See also HK papers’ coverage of anti-Japan protests by ESWN