Report: Japan’s late emperor against Yasukuni’s honoring of war criminals

Report: Japan’s late emperor against Yasukuni’s honoring of war criminals

The Associated Press
Saturday, August 4, 2007

TOKYO: Japan’s wartime Emperor Hirohito was against including convicted war criminals at a Tokyo shrine because he worried the move would damage relations with the country’s Asian neighbors, according to new documents published Saturday.

Hirohito also believed that honoring Class-A war criminals at Yasukuni Shrine would change the nature of the shrine as a war memorial, the emperor’s chamberlain was quoted as saying in a recently published book of Hirohito’s poetry, according to the Asahi newspaper. Several other newspapers carried a similar report.

“(The emperor) believes it alters the nature of the enshrined deities, because (Yasukuni) is supposed to honor only the souls of the people who went to war and died for the nation,” Yoshihiro Tokugawa says in the book, compiled by poet Hirohiko Okano, 83.

The book is an anthology of Hirohito’s traditional “waka” poems, including one he wrote for the 41st anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat in 1986 and which reflected his anxieties over the inclusion of executed war criminals at Yasukuni, Okano says, citing conversations with the late chamberlain.

Hirohito believed “it would leave serious problems for the future with countries engaged in war” with Japan, Okano wrote, according to the Asahi.

Hirohito wrote:

“On this day of the year again

“Sorrow is deep

“Over the matter of the Yasukuni shrine.”

Hirohito, under whose name Japan waged war in the first half of the 21st century, died in 1989.

Hirohito stopped visiting Yasukuni after his eighth visit three years before its 1978 decision to begin honoring the Class-A war criminals including executed war leader Hideki Tojo. Hirohito’s son, Akihito, has never visited Yasukuni.

Visits by Japanese leaders and lawmakers to Yasukuni have long been a source of friction between Japan and its neighbors because the shrine is seen by many as a symbol of Japan’s pre-1945 militarism.

Earlier findings from private memorandums and the diary of a former imperial aide have indicated that Hirohito stopped visiting Yasukuni after expressing his displeasure to including war criminals on the list of some 2.5 million war dead honored there. But details of his views have not previously been known.

Hirohito’s reign continues to be a sensitive issue, and journals and accounts by aides to the emperor are published usually after their death.

Emperor Showa stopped going to Yasukuni because the men who lost his war were enshrined against his wishes and because he realised their enshrinement would change the Yasukuni Shrine into a symbol of Japanese militarism in World War II. The shrine was built in Meiji’s rule to commemorate soldiers who died for Japan regardless of the reason, but this has been perverted with the enshrinement of Tojo Hideki and other lesser minds.

The revisionist museum built just next to the WW2 section of Yasukuni doesn’t help either. If the right-wing nuts really want to restore the Emperor’s place in Japanese society then they would have actually listened to the Emperor’s wishes and views instead of doing something to satisfy their own sentiments. Otherwise, all they are just producing empty rhetoric that does nothing but create futher complications in their country from within and abroad.

If the Emperor feels that right-wing, revisionist attitudes are perverting Japan’s national identity and global reputation, what does this say about the country as a whole?

Why can’t Japanophiles and right-wing Japanese see the big picture instead of just defending or justifying these symbols just because they are made in Japan?

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