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The Yasukuni Shrine

The Yasukuni Shrine

With the recent controversy around the visits of members of the Japanese Government to SantuárioYasukuni the AAPJ leaves in its Digital Library an article so that you can better understand
what these controversies involve.

santuário Yasukine no Japão - aapj

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The December 26, 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. This act upset several Asian countries such as China and South Korea, and had the disapproval of the US, Japan’s allies. Because then cause so much controversy a visit to this temple? For the average Portuguese citizen a religious act of this nature does not have much meaning. So let us analyze, briefly, the history of this sanctuary and as a simple visit can alvoraçar entire nations.

Yasukuni –  Memory and Peace

The December 26, 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. This act upset several Asian countries such as China and South Korea, and had the disapproval of the US, Japan’s allies. Because then cause so much controversy a visit to this temple? For the average Portuguese citizen a religious act of this nature does not have much meaning. So let us analyze, briefly, the history of this sanctuary and as a simple visit can alvoraçar entire nations.

Yasukuni – Controversy

During this period, from the Meiji era to the occupation of Japan by the Allies, Yasukuni never raised controversy. Only in 1985, 40 years after the end of World War 2 broke out controversy. But it was the result of actions taken during the years of occupation and we immediately following the departure of Japan’s allies.
The Allied occupation authorities, issued the “Directive Shinto”, ordering the separation of state from religion, forcing the Yasukuni Shrine to choose to be a government secular institution, or a separate religious institution of the state. So Yasukuni chose to be an independent religious entity in the Association of Sanctuaries Shinto.
In 1959, a joint action between the Sanctuary and the Ministry of Health and Social Security, were welcomed in Yasukuni the vast majority of the dead in the 2nd World War. These were included many civilians, men and women who died in this war.
None of these actions raised, or raises controversy. It arises only after the actions of the main shrine priest in 1978, Nagayoshi Matsudaira. After
signing of the Treaty of Peace between Japan and the Allies, commonly called the Treaty of San Francisco, 1951, he began to think of welcome war criminals in Yasukuni. But it was only after 1958 have been freed those accused of war crimes, which began this host. In this process only criminals C or B level were welcomed. In 1970 it was also decided welcome level criminals A, but the host was delayed until after the death of then chief priest. After his death, his successor, Nagayoshi priest held in secret, the welcoming ceremony. Only in 1979 this information was known, which left the Emperor Hirohito unhappy, resulting in his refusal to visit the Sanctuary to his death, an example followed by his son today.
Since then, many members of the Japanese government have visited Yasukuni, but in a personal capacity. Only after the visit of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1985 rose to controversy. At that time it was so great that for several years no Minister visited the shrine.
The next visit was in 1996, by then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, but did it only on a personal level, to fulfill a promise to his childhood mentor. Only in 2001, with the official visit of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and subsequent annual visits, it is that the controversy returned. Koizumi campaigned for the leadership of his party, based on the promise to visit Yasukuni annually, regardless of criticism from other countries, in order to win the votes of nationalists. In turn they gave him not only the party leadership, as well as the Japanese government. accusations were followed by various countries who fought and / or were occupied by Japan in World War 2.
After 7 years since the last official visit of Prime Minister to Yasukuni, Shinzo Abe, raises the controversy, compounded with the visit on New Year’s Day by the Minister of Japan Affairs. In his defense Shinzo Abe says he visited Yasukuni, not to honor war criminals, but to show to those who died in Japan the work his government has done and assure them that they will continue to do their best.

Yasukuni – Another point of view

With the data presented in this short article, and many others in books or on the Internet, it may will reach a foregone conclusion. Admittedly, they should not exalt war criminals.
In this case there is a very important aspect that should be taken into account: the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, was the target of much criticism. The main of which is that of using the so-called “rule of best evidence” to collect information. Through this process it could be made a charge only based on what someone said, without requiring the presentation of evidence. So some legal experts believe that not all trials were just having been hewn sentences were based on testimonies of revenge intentions, so many innocent people have been convicted.
This factor combined with the release of all criminals still alive war in 1958 gives reason to believe that perhaps many of welcomed in Yasukuni as war criminals have not been in reality. There adding that most of those who were there
were welcomed military and civilians was governed by military law and honor, so at least these deserve due honor.
In this very complicated issue, we can only hope that common sense prevails and that the families of both sides of a conflict which ended nearly 70 years can honor their deceased loved ones.