Amidst all the international criticism over his visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that building a new memorial for the nation’s war dead will not work, as the families of the fallen soldiers will not visit a different location. The Shinto shrine, built in 1869 by the Meiji government, is a monument to all Japanese who died in wars, including 14 convicted Class A war criminals.
Several sectors have suggested building a new memorial, including the New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, that has no religious affiliation. The neutral site has also been proposed to separate it from the “taint” of the war criminals, and to appease countries like China and South Korea, who are offended when high-ranking government officials visit Yasukuni. They see it as a glorification of Japan’s militaristic past. The Yasukuni Shrine commemorates around 2.5 million fallen Japanese soldiers, and is run by a religious organization separate from the government, honoring the separation of church and state.
But at a gathering this week organized by actor Masahiko Tsugawa in Tokyo, Abe said that bereaved families will not visit a new site, as Yasukuni is where the spirits of the war dead are. When Japanese soldiers went to battle during World War II, the slogan used was “Let’s meet at Yasukuni” after death. However, Abe did not make any comment about the proposed solution of “separating” the war criminals from the other war dead at the existing shrine.
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