Yasukuni Shrine, Where War Criminals Are Revered

 The Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is a beautiful spiritual place to remember those who died in the service of Japan. About 24 lakh men, women, children and even various animals are present here. These people (and animals) lost their lives in numerous conflicts involving Japan for nearly a hundred years – from the Boshin War of 1868–1869 to World War II, including the First Indochina War of 1946–1954.

Those enshrined are mostly military people, but also civilians who died while participating in various war-related activities, such as Red Cross nurses and air raid volunteers, factory workers, and those who died in Soviet labor camps. and those who died in merchant navy ships. , and so on. In addition, Yasukuni Shrine honors the thousands of Taiwanese and Koreans who served Japan and were killed in action. In the Shinto religion, anyone who died fighting for the Emperor is an Irei, or "hero spirit". The enshrined spirits are believed to have transmigrated into the kami or gods themselves. No wonder, Yasukuni Shrine is a very sacred place for remembrance, contemplation and prayer.

But this Dargah is also a very sensitive and controversial place. Of the 2.4 million souls honored and revered here, more than 1,000 are war criminals who were tried, convicted and executed by Allied war tribunals, or who died in prison after the end of World War II. These men committed some of the most horrific crimes in human history, including murdering, maiming and starving prisoners of war, forcing them to labor in inhumane conditions, plundering public and private property, and beyond any justification of military necessity. This included the destruction of cities, towns and villages. These people committed mass murders, rape, looting and torture on civilians and other barbaric cruelties on helpless people. Who can forget the Rape of Nanking where Japanese soldiers went door to door to collect women and girls to rape and then mutilate them after raping them? Or those little games that soldiers used to play to try to outwit each other and see who could hit the hardest with their swords? Elsewhere, in Japanese prison camps, death doctors conducted inhumane experiments on prisoners, such as deliberately infecting them with diseases or performing vivisection. Countless young Asian women were forced into sexual slavery for the soldiers' entertainment. To date, China and Korea have turned gloomy when attempting to seek an official apology from Japan.

Japan's unwillingness to repent and reconcile with its past has been the cause of much tension among Asian countries that were victims of Japan's aggression and atrocities. Unlike Germany, which is full of remorse and regret about the genocide, the Japanese government actively tries to suppress information about the unspeakable horrors committed by the Empire. Most Japanese history textbooks highlight the controversial parts while others ignore them outright. Events like the Nanjing Massacre are mere footnotes, and there is no mention of "comfort women" anywhere in history textbooks for junior high schools.

Some people believe that the Nanjing Massacre never happened.

"All the photographs used by China as evidence of the genocide are fabricated," says Nobukatsu Fujioka, a professor of education at the University of Tokyo who has written several history books. "When the Chinese government invited some Japanese journalists to write about them, they hired actors and actresses pretending to be victims."

These sentiments are reflected by many right-wing politicians. Nariaki Nakayama, former Minister of Education, claims that the "comfort women" were professional prostitutes from brothels run by private agencies, and that no women were forcibly taken to serve in the military.

The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal of 1946 identified three classes of war criminals. Class A criminals were those who had committed "crimes against peace" by participating in a conspiracy to start and carry on war. These charges were filed against Japan's political and military leaders who planned and directed the war. These were the highest ranking people in the Japanese war machine. Class B criminals were those accused of traditional war crimes such as mistreatment of prisoners, killing of civilians in occupied territory, and uncontrolled destruction of cities. Category C were criminals charged with "crimes against humanity". These are people who committed widespread or systematic oppression and atrocities against a group of people, including murder, extermination, enslavement, exile, etc.

In 1952, as the Allied occupation of Japan ended, some groups lobbied for the rehabilitation of Japan's war criminals and successfully persuaded the Ministry of Justice to issue a memorandum declaring that war criminals would be treated in the same manner. Will be treated as convicted criminals would be treated. In Japanese court. This restored the civil rights of criminals. Another amendment to the laws allowed surviving relatives of war criminals to receive benefits in the same way as war veterans. When the last surviving war criminals were released on parole in 1958, the possibility of sheltering executed criminals at Yasukuni began to appear possible.

From 1959 to 1967, a total of 984 Class B and Class C war criminals were held at Yasukuni. Authorities also did not seek permission from surviving family members, some of whom opposed the installation. In 1966, the first batch of names belonging to Class A were sent to the temple, but the chief priest, Tsukuba Fujimaro, continued to delay enshrinement until his death in 1978. His successor, Matsudaira Nagayoshi, thought differently. Matsudaira believed that the Tokyo trials presented a very different picture of Japan, portraying the island nation as the sole villain. Rejecting the tribunal's decision, Matsudaira decided to incarcerate Japan's Class A war criminals in Yasukuni. But aware of what the reaction would be if the world found out, Matsudaira held a secret ceremony and consecrated fourteen Class A criminals.

When news spread the following year, Emperor Hirohito refused to enter the temple. Since that time, no emperor of Japan has visited Yasukuni. But several Japanese prime ministers have continued to visit the shrine to honor the dead, angering many former allies, particularly China and South Korea, which suffered the worst of Japanese atrocities. Some demonstrations have turned violent. In 2001, twenty South Korean men cut off the tips of their little fingers in protest against a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. In 2011, a Chinese man attempted to burn a gate pillar in Yasukuni and was arrested. In 2015, a South Korean man blew up a toilet inside the temple. Any foreign citizen who came to the temple was met with public anger. In 2014, Canadian singer Justin Bieber posted photos of a visit to the temple on social media, sparking outrage. He later removed the pictures and apologized.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe said shortly after his 2013 visit, "Sadly, it is a reality that travel to Yasukuni Shrine has become a political and diplomatic issue." "Some people criticize Yasukuni's visit as paying tribute to war criminals, but the purpose of my visit today, on the anniversary of my administration taking office, is to report before the souls of those killed in the war that my administration has How we have worked for a year and to renew the pledge that Japan should never wage war again.''

Yasukuni Shrine remains a thorn in the side of relations between Japan and its neighboring countries.

Giuseppe A., who wrote a long essay on the subject. Staveley says, "The high-level patronage (by the Japanese) of Yasukuni Shrine remains a burden on Japan's relationship." “Inaccurate or incomplete versions of history in Japanese school textbooks, which have a tendency to portray Japan as a victim in World War II, and, among other things, high-ranking Japanese elected officials, particularly the Prime Minister, Includes trips to Yasukuni Shrine. “This is proof that Japan has still not changed and therefore still poses a threat to peace and stability in the region.”

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