Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Politics and Shrines

Yasuhuni Shrine - cannot understand why Shinzo Abe, the front-runner to succeed Koizumi as Prime Minister of Japan, says that he will visit the Yasukuni Shrine where many of Japan's Class 1 war criminals from WWII are interred. Koizumi says he did it because of a campaign promise he made to the electorate, but Abe says he will be doing it to keep up the practice. Obviously, Abe sees these visits as advancing his political cause, if nothing else. It doesn't matter if the visit is official or unofficial, as Abe promised the latter. As far as the Chinese and Koreans are concerned, paying homage to War Criminals in any guise is criminal enough.

Well, it looks to me that Abe does not really need to keep up appearances at the cost of good relations with its neighbours, Korea and China, as well as continue to hurt the sensitivities of many in Southeast Asia. It would be an unwise, unnecessary and possibly a suicidal policy given that Korea and China are becoming major powers in their own rights and that Japan will become increasingly isolated in the process. While we do not want to forever remind Japan about its war past, we also do not want them to forget.

Image origin: