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2013年10月22日 (火)

靖国参拝見送り 的外れな中韓両国の対日批判

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 22, 2013
Anti-Japan stance by China, S. Korea over Yasukuni Shrine unhelpful
靖国参拝見送り 的外れな中韓両国の対日批判(10月21日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided not to visit Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine on the occasion of its Oct. 17-20 annual autumn festival. Instead, he simply made a monetary offering to the shrine for a sacred masakaki tree branch traditionally used in Shinto rituals.

His decision not to pay his respects at the shrine after refraining from making visits earlier this year in the shrine’s annual spring festival and on Aug. 15, the date marking the end of World War II, was to prevent frayed ties with China and South Korea from further deteriorating.

China and South Korea regard Yasukuni Shrine as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism, as it memorializes Japan’s war dead along with “Class A war criminals,” including former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who were executed after being condemned by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. They strongly oppose visits by prime ministers or Cabinet members.

Paying tribute to those who died in the war is purely an internal affair, and no country should interfere.

As the Yasukuni issue has become a diplomatic problem, however, the prime minister’s decision to avoid visiting the shrine this time is understandable.

The prime minister is said to strongly desire to pay his respects at Yasukuni Shrine, but he must pay scrupulous attention to the feasibility of making such a visit.

In this connection, it is highly regrettable that neither China nor South Korea has shown a positive attitude after Abe’s decision to forgo a visit to the shrine.

Referring to Abe’s masakaki monetary offering in lieu of visiting the shrine, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing opposes “any type of action [by the prime minister] of paying tribute at any time,” effectively saying that China equates the masakaki offering with a visit to the shrine. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also expressed “deep concern and regret” over Abe’s offering to Yasukuni Shrine.

Tacit U.S. message

Since the end of the war, Japan has continued to follow the path of peace and contribute to the international community. We wonder whether both China and South Korea have deliberately shut their eyes to this fact.

The criticism by Chinese and South Korean leaders against the Abe administration for “veering to the right” may be largely motivated by a desire to maintain their own domestic leadership on the strength of surges of popular anti-Japanese sentiment.

As a result of the escalation of distorted anti-Japanese criticism, Japanese investment in China has dwindled, and the adverse impact has spread in the Chinese economy.

Abe has persistently called for China and South Korea to hold summit talks. The leaders of China and South Korea should respond favorably to Abe’s overture and move to break the impasse. They should shift away from a “mutual harm” approach to a path leading to “mutual benefits.”

The prime minister’s decision to forgo a visit to Yasukuni Shrine may also have been out of consideration for the United States, which is concerned about the standoff between Japan and its two neighbors.

Early this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid wreaths at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery for the war dead near Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. A state-run facility with no religious affiliation, the cemetery accommodates the remains of the war dead whose identities are not known.

The visit by Kerry and Hagel to Chidorigafuchi is believed to be a tacit U.S. message to the Japanese government to exercise caution on the issue of visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the prime minister and other Cabinet members.

Public opinion is divergent over how the souls of the war dead should be consoled. Criticism of those who played leading roles in the war remains deep-rooted.

Under the circumstances, in-depth discussions should be held on the advisability of building a state-run facility that would enable everyone to pay tribute to the memory of the war dead without harmful consequences.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 21, 2013)
(2013年10月21日01時18分  読売新聞)


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