"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, June 04, 2005

When is a war crime not a war crime
when it's inconvienient for it to be a war crime, or when it undermines your arguement or when someone else accuses you of it, that's when. The Daily Yomiuri still doesn't archive its materials anywhere anyone can see them so I'm reproducing the whole thing here. Ten million people subscribe to the parent paper in Japanese.....

Govt must expedite new war memorial
The Yomiuri Shimbun
With what view of history has Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine in the past?
Koizumi said Thursday at the House of Representatives that he understood the Class-A war criminals--those found guilty at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, also known as the Tokyo Tribunal--were war criminals.
The prime minister was speaking in response to a question asked by Katsuya Okada, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, at a session of the lower house's Budget Committee.
If this is the case, then Koizumi should not visit Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines Class-A war criminals along with other war dead.
Criminality disputed
Critics both at home and abroad have cast doubts as to whether the Tokyo Tribunal, held on the basis of a court regulation stipulated by the Occupation authorities' GHQ, was justifiable in light of international law.
The case in point is the "Pal ruling," whereby Judge Radhabinod Pal, who represented India at the tribunal, acquitted all the defendants, saying that given the history of their own imperialistic adventures, the United States and European countries were not entitled to try Japan.
Moreover, following the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, the death of Class-A war criminals by public execution has been treated as "death in the course of public duty."
Mamoru Shigemitsu, who was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment as a Class-A war criminal, became a deputy prime minister and foreign minister under the administration of then Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama in 1954.
Okinori Kaya, who was given a life term as a Class-A war criminal, served as justice minister under the administration of Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda.
As a result, a "criminal" became a guardian of the law.
Yet there were no particular objections made by other countries when these former "Class-A war criminals" had their lost honor restored by becoming cabinet members.
From such a historical context, many have argued strongly that the so-called Class-A war criminals are not "criminals," although they have to shoulder the guilt of recklessly dragging their country into a war.
It was in 1978 when these Class-A war criminals were enshrined, together with the war dead, at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine.
Although the enshrinement became public knowledge in 1979, then Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira and Zenko Suzuki, Ohira's successor, visited the shrine as their predecessors did.
Ohira said, "I think that the judgment on Class-A war criminals or on the Greater East Asia War will be made by history," thus declining to express his own opinion on whether they were criminals.
In response to Okada's question Thursday, Koizumi also said, "I'm not visiting the shrine as a duty of prime minister. I'm visiting due to my own beliefs," making clear that he is visiting the shrine as a private individual.
If his visits to the shrine are made as a private citizen, he should think of a better way to worship there. It is questionable for him to step into the holiest Shinto shrine and enter his name with his title of "prime minister" when making a private visit.
The issue of distinguishing between a visit to the shrine in a private or official capacity gained public attention after then Prime Minister Takeo Miki, on his visit to the shrine in 1975, said he went there as a "private individual."
Yet succeeding prime ministers visited the shrine without specifying whether their visits were in an official or private capacity.
Suzuki followed a policy of not answering questions as to whether his visit was in a private or official capacity.
Yet it is a different story when a prime minister clearly distinguishes his visit to the shrine, as when Koizumi says he is not visiting the shrine as part of his duties as prime minister.
Constitutional hurdles
One solution proposed to the problem of the prime minister's visits is to have the Class-A war criminals disenshrined and enshrined elsewhere.
But Yasukuni Shrine is a religious organization. If political leaders pressure the shrine to enshrine Class-A war criminals separately, they would be violating the principle of the separation of state and religion under the Constitution.
It is up to the shrine as a religious entity to interpret the contents of its rites, including whether it should enshrine the war criminals separately.
As there are various religions and sects in Japan, there are also many who oppose the prime minister's visits to the shrine due to religious reasons.
If it is difficult for Yasukuni Shrine to enshrine Class-A war criminals separately in light of Shinto doctrine, the only way to solve the problem lies in building a national memorial that is nonreligious.
In 2001, when the Koizumi Cabinet was inaugurated, a private panel to then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda discussed ways to mourn the war dead. It came up with a proposal the following year that a nonreligious national facility be built to commemorate the war dead and pray for peace.
The report lacked concrete ideas as to what sort of facility should be built or how to mourn the war dead. The government should put the finishing touches to the proposal as soon as possible and start building a new memorial facility.
At Arlington National Cemetery in the United States, there are tombstones for unknown soldiers as a central memorial, at which visiting heads of foreign states often lay a wreath of flowers.
A new national memorial can be built as an outdoor facility. One idea raised is for a monument to be established at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in central Tokyo. This is worth discussing.
The government-sponsored memorial service for the war dead, held every Aug. 15, could still be held at Nippon Budokan hall in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.
China ties unlikely to improve
Yet even if Koizumi stops his visits to Yasukuni Shrine, it will not necessarily improve Japan's bilateral relations with China anytime soon.
Even after the fact that Class-A war criminals were enshrined at the shrine was made known, China did not protest publicly when prime ministers Ohira and Suzuki made successive visits to the shrine.
It was after then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone made an official visit to the shrine in 1985 that China began lodging protests to such visits.
In yielding to Beijing's protest, Nakasone discontinued his visits to the shrine in the following year. The action handed China a diplomatic bargaining chip that it has continued to exploit.
In later years, China, alarmed by the declining power of the Chinese Communist Party regime after the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, intensified its policy of "educating people with patriotism and anti-Japanese sentiment," fostering a vast population with anti-Japanese sentiment year after year.
The slogans seen during the wave of anti-Japanese protests in April focused on the issue of Japan's campaign for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and on Taiwan.
When pondering future bilateral relations with China, the government must keep a close eye on the domestic situation there.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 4)

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