Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi on a previous visit to Yasukuni Jinja
Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi has visited Yasukuni Jinja, sparking protests from Korea and China. This was his fifth visit, according to Asahi Shinbun.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday made his fifth visit to Yasukuni Shrine, drawing immediate criticism from China and South Korea and raising concerns at home about diplomatic relations.
The visit marks the fifth straight year Koizumi has made the pilgrimage to the shrine where 14 Class-A war criminals are memorialized along with the nation’s war dead. His last visit was on New Year’s Day in 2004.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Monday that Koizumi did not visit the shrine in his official capacity as prime minister, but that did not prevent an angry reaction from Japan’s neighbors.
“The Chinese government will staunchly oppose Prime Minister Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine where the Class-A war criminals are enshrined–regardless of how the visits are made,” said Wang Yi, the Chinese ambassador to Japan. “The fact that the prime minister has done such a thing on the day when the Shenzhou 6 made a successful return to Earth is a challenge to all Chinese people. The prime minister should accept historical responsibility for destroying China-Japan relations.”
South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Shotaro Oshima in Seoul. Ban said the South Korean government felt “deep regret and disappointment” over Koizumi’s actions.The leaders of China and South Korea have repeatedly called on Koizumi to refrain from visiting Yasukuni this year, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
However, Koizumi remained noncommittal, saying only that he would take “appropriate measures.”
Monday is the start of the autumn memorial services at Yasukuni. Koizumi’s visit Monday was not as elaborate as some of his past trips. He even tried to give the appearance that he was making the visit as a private citizen.
Koizumi arrived at Yasukuni wearing a regular business suit.
In past visits, he dressed in formal Japanese or Western wear. He did not sign the shrine register as in previous visits when he wrote “Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi,” nor did he make a formal payment for a floral decoration.
He never entered the main hall of the shrine, but he threw money into the offering box and bowed to the hall after praying for a few minutes.
In Korea, the foreign minister demanded an explanation from the Japanese ambassador, and it seems likely that President Roh will cancel a summit with Japan.
South Korea considers scrapping plans to hold a summit with Japan as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi once again visited a controversial war shrine in Tokyo Monday, a Chong Wa Dae spokesman said.
The two countries do not have settled summit schedules, but it is President Roh Moo-hyun’s turn to visit Japan as his Japanese counterpart came to Seoul last June.
Kim Man-soo, presidential spokesman, said that the government will reconsider whether Roh will visit Japan later this year as predicted.
“As of today, the government can’t say that we are thinking of President Roh’s visit to Japan,’’ Kim told reporters. “I mean there could be a change in schedules.’’
He also questioned the possibility of holding a bilateral meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Pusan next month by saying, “We have not paid special attention to it.’’
Kim said the government will make decisions on the Seoul-Tokyo relations, based on a recognition that Koizumi’s visit to the Yaskuni Shrine would affect the bilateral ties.
In the meantime, Koizumi has found support for his visit to Yasukuni Jinja from Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.
NEW YORK — Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui on Sunday praised Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for visiting Yasukuni Shrine despite opposition by neighboring countries such as China. “That was good,” Lee said, commenting on Koizumi’s visit to the war-related Shinto shrine in Tokyo on Monday.
Lee has supported Koizumi’s visits to the shrine, saying, “It is natural for a premier of a country to paid homage to the souls of people who lost their lives for their country.” Lee also said earlier there is no reason for foreign countries to tell Koizumi not to visit the shrine.
My country (Australia) was one of the countries that actually fought Japan, unlike Korea. My countrymen actually suffered war crimes from the Japanese army (unlike Koreans). However, Korean prison guards in South East Asia were reputed to be especially cruel to the allied prisoners.
In ‘Prisoners of the Japanese,’ on page 104, Gavan Daws makes the following comment –
“No one could imagine anything worse than a Japanese guard until Korean guards began turning up in the Southeast Asian camps.”
Indeed, there are many accounts by allied prisoners of Korean cruelty.
By end of February 1943 another fifteen British horios had died, mainly from disease and malnutrition, leaving fifty-seven. One had succumbed to a particularly severe bashing by Korean guards, ‘some of the cruellest men in the world’, who had taken over.
There were one hundred and forty-eight former Korean prison guards were convicted of war crimes, and 23 or those were executed. (kudos to Gerry Bevers for this information)
Although one can half understand China protesting (whether the protest is justified or not, China was at war with Japan), the Korean reaction is puzzling. The 13 ‘war criminals’ interred in Yasukuni Shrine (out of 2,466,000 dead enshrined there) have nothing to do with war crimes in Korea (Japan was not at war with Korea), so there is a big question as to whether Korea has any right to be involved in this controversy at all. After all, if this is about war criminals, and there are no Korean victims of war crimes, then it seems like they are involving themselves in a controversy they have no business being in.
I wonder what the Koreans think of the 21,000 Korean soldiers (all volunteers) interred in Yasukuni shrine? I believe there is also a Korean Kamikaze pilot interred there.