Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)

Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 or 靖國神社 Yasukuni Jinja) is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is dedicated to the soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. Currently, its Symbolic Registry of Divinities lists the names of over 2,466,000 enshrined men and women whose lives were dedicated to the service of Imperial Japan, particularly to those killed in wartime.It also houses one of the few Japanese war museums dedicated to World War II

Yasukuni is a shrine to house the actual souls of the dead as kami, or "spirits/souls" as loosely defined in English. It is believed that all negative or evil acts committed are absolved when enshrinement occurs. This activity is strictly a religious matter since the separation of State Shinto and the Japanese government in 1945. The priesthood at the shrine has complete religious autonomy to decide to whom and how enshrinement may occur. They believe that enshrinement is permanent and irreversible. According to Shinto beliefs, by enshrining kami, Yasukuni Shrine provides a permanent residence for the spirits of those who have fought on behalf of the emperor. Yasukuni has all enshrined kami occupying the same single seat. The shrine is dedicated to give peace and rest to all those enshrined there. It was the only place to which the Emperor of Japan bowed.

History of Yasukuni Shrine

The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tōkyō Shōkonsha (東京招魂社) was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor. This shrine was to commemorate the soldiers of the Boshin War who fought and died to bring about the Meiji Restoration. It was one of several dozen war memorial shrines built throughout Japan at that time as part of the government-directed State Shinto program. In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. It became one of State Shinto's principal shrines, as well as the primary national shrine for commemorating Japan's war dead. The name Yasukuni, quoted from the phrase 「吾以靖国也」 in the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan (Scroll 6, 23rd Year of Duke Xi), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor. The name is formally written as 靖國神社, using obsolete (pre-war) kyūjitai character forms.

After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive. This directive ordered the separation of church and state and effectively put an end to State Shinto. Yasukuni Shrine was forced to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. People[who?] decided that the shrine would become a privately funded religious institution. Since that decision in 1946, Yasukuni Shrine has continued to be privately funded and operated.

Shinto rites are performed at the shrine, which, according to Shinto belief, houses the kami, or spirits, of all Japanese, former colonial subjects (Korean and Taiwanese) and civilians who died in service of the emperor while participating (forced or willing) in the nation's conflicts prior to 1951.

There are over 2,466,000 enshrined kami currently listed in the Yasukuni's Symbolic Registry of Divinities. This list includes soldiers, as well as women and students who were involved in relief operations in the battlefield or worked in factories for the war effort. Enshrinement is not exclusive to people of Japanese descent. Currently, Yasukuni Shrine has enshrined 27,863 Taiwanese and 21,181 Koreans without consultation of surviving family members and in some cases against the stated wishes of the family members. There are numerous enshrined kami who died at Chinreisha.

Eligible categories

As a general rule, the enshrined are limited to military personnel who were killed while serving Japan during armed conflicts. Civilians who were killed during a war are not included, apart from a handful of exceptions. A deceased must fall into one of the following categories for enshrinement:

1. Military personnel, and civilians serving for the military, who were:

- killed in action, or died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty outside the Home Islands (and within the Home Islands after September 1931)
- missing and presumed to have died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty
- died as a result of war crime tribunals which have been ratified by the San Francisco Peace Treaty
2. Civilians who participated in combat under the military and died from resulting wounds or illnesses (includes residents of Okinawa)
3. Civilians who died, or are presumed to have died, in Soviet labor camps during and after the war
4. Civilians who were officially mobilized or volunteered (such as factory workers, mobilized students, Japanese Red Cross nurses and anti air-raid volunteers) who were killed while on duty
5. Crew who were killed aboard Merchant Navy vessels
6. Crew who were killed due to the sinking of exchange ships (e.g. Awa Maru)
7. Okinawan schoolchildren evacuees who were killed (e.g. the sinking of Tsushima Maru)
8. Officials of the governing bodies of Karafuto Prefecture, Kwantung Leased Territory, Governor-General of Korea and Governor-General of Taiwan

Enshrinement of war criminals

One of the controversies arises out of the enshrinement of World War II war criminals. According to documents released by the National Diet Library of Japan in 2007, Health and Welfare Ministry officials and Yasukuni representatives officially met 31 January 1969. After the meeting the Shrine officials and Ministry officials agreed that all "are eligible" for enshrinement based on the extant rules. After the meeting, it was specifically decided to not publicly announce the criminals' enshrinement due to the controversial decision.[42] In 1959, the kami of 1,068 executed as Class-B or C war criminals by Allied Forces military trials were enshrined at Yasukuni.[43] In 1978, the kami of 14 executed or died in prison who were sentenced or suspected as Class-A war criminals by IMTFE were enshrined at Yasukuni.[44] According to a memorandum released in 2006 by Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Tomohiko Tomita, enshrined Class-A was the reason Emperor Hirohito refused to visit the shrine from 1978 until his death in 1989.[45][46] Since the enshrinement, there have been calls from some groups of people to remove the war criminals from Yasukuni Shrine. Shrine officials have stated that unlike traditional Shinto shrines, all enshrined kami are immediately combined and therefore become impossible to be separated for removal.[47] There has been no move to separate the enshrinements.

(extract from wikipedia)


Lee Teng Hui(李登輝) & Yasukuni Shrine

In May 2007, Ex President of Taiwan Republic of China Lee Teng Hui(李登輝)visited Yasukuni Shrine. Lee said his brother was enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine as a navy with Imperial Japanese Navy who died during WW2. Lee's elder brother served in the Japanese Imperial Navy and died while on duty in February 1945 in the Philippines.

Lee's father was a middle-level Japanese police aide and his brother served and died in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Lee was one of only four Taiwanese students in his high school class—graduated with honors and was given a scholarship to Japan's Kyoto Imperial University, then known as Kyoto Technical School. In 1944 he too volunteered for service in the Imperial Japanese Army and became a second lieutenant officer of an anti-aircraft gun in Taiwan. He was ordered back to Japan in 1945 and participated in the clean-up after the great Tokyo firebombing of March, 1945. Lee stayed in Japan after the surrender and graduated from Kyoto University in 1946. During his youth Lee had a Japanese name, Iwasato Masao (岩里政男).

Ironically, he was presented with the first Shinpei Goto Prize by Tokyo's Shinpei Goto Society. The prize was established to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the late Japanese colonial administrator Shinpei Goto(後藤新平),and is awarded to people who have contributed to national or regional development.

What is in the mind of a Father of Taiwan independence?.

The agreement for keeping the Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)after the war, was there will not be any state Shintoism, where Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)will only remain as purely a civilian independent religion institution, free from politic and militarism. But has the Yasukuni Shrine comply with that after the war? Just look at the movies below:

靖国神社, 軍装おじさん、自衛隊に「大和魂」を求むる

The ceremony was full of military color, reflective of revival of Japanese militarism. It was no longer just a simple family remembrance ceremony for the family members. It already become a symbolic place for the ultra-right militarist and supporters.

Will Yasukuni be the birth place of future Japanese Militarism? or as some critic said, the revival of Japanese Militarism....

This is the worry of the people all over the world.


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