Yasukuni revisited

We kind of knew it was coming: Koizumi went again. Protests broke out in Beijing and Hong Kong. Best dismissal EVER:

Koizumi told reporters in Tokyo that he made his visit as a private citizen and not in an official capacity, saying that “China and South Korea will eventually understand.”

The angry reactions in China and Korea are covered in more depth in AFP’s article.

UPDATE: Another great Koizumi jab: “In principle other people should not meddle with matters of the heart… much more, foreign governments should not say ‘you should not’ when the Japanese are offering sincere condolences to the war dead from Japan and other parts of the world.”

21 thoughts on “Yasukuni revisited”

  1. Whether one personally has any feelings one way or the other about Koizumi’s Yasukuni prayer visits, the effect it has one both international relations and Japanese domestic politics is significant.

  2. Koizumi has the right to associate and express himself however he wants. However, as a public official, and the leader of his country, he has to understand that his public office severely constrains what he can or cannot do. Ultimately his overriding responsibility is to promote the best interests of his country, and of course, ensure that whatever he does will not affect the safety of Japanese living abroad.

    He is an idiot savant, with a big emphasis on the IDIOT.

    I read somewhere some foreign ministry official said of Koizumi, “He thinks he can do whatever he wants, and everyone else will pick up the pieces for him.”

  3. Koizumi is not an idiot for visiting Yasukuni. His visits are not whims, but calculated, intentional moves that demonstrate Japan’s determination to preserve its own sovereignty in the face of ridiculous attempts by outsiders to quash it. It’s preposterous to think that any world leader would willingly accept such limitations of sovereignty if it didn’t have to. China and Korea seem to think they can hold WWII over the heads of the Japanese forever, and Japan has simply gotten tired of it.

    More power to Japan. Why should they listen to these gripes from China, particularly when the Chinese government insists on using the whole conflict to fan the flames of anti-Japanese sentiment, to its own benefit? After all, it’s not like the Chinese government is without fault here either. Let’s face it, the Japanese government is never going to win over the Chinese people, at least not while the dictatorial propaganda machine is in place.

    Japan has paid its dues, done what it’s been asked, and now, it’s asserting itself…what’s wrong with that?

  4. Thank you Everlasting for that breathtakingly intellectual critique of Mr. Koizumi. And Inquisitor, that “defense” of Yasukuni is just what I’d expect from a socialist.

  5. I disagree somewhat with the statement that public office constrains the prime minister’s actions. Although the office of prime minister is not a direcly elected position, because Japan is a democracy, if the public is truly unhappy with Mr. Koizumi’s actions they could punish the LDP in any election and send a powerful message to the party, which in effect has continued to place Mr. Koizumi in office. Thus, public office constrains him only to the extent that the public is willing to tolerate his actions.

    As for the issue of what Japan should or should not do, Mr. Koizumi is free to take whatever action he likes within the constraints described above (I won’t be so bold as to speculate about his motives, but I agree with Aburioe that the man is far from being an idiot). The correctness or incorrectness of his actions or intentions is not what matters here. What matters is how his visits are perceived internationally. Whether this perception is correct or not is a seperate issue. (As an aside, the hypocrisy of the Chinese government should not factor into the strength or weakness of their argument against Mr. Koizumi’s visits.)

    Finally, the author of the Yasukuni defense would do well to read Mr. Orwell’s excellent essay, “Politics and the English Language.”

  6. To Saru: Public office does indeed prohibit many Japanese from taking certain actions that are available to private citizens, notably postal workers and others being barred from political activities and teachers being forced to observe the Hinomaru and Kimigayo. The legal framework for such constraints is being tested as we speak in court cases involving teachers and Koizumi’s shrine visits. I’m no legal expert on this, but the idea that the only possible constraint on Koizumi is through the election system ignores a major ongoing debate in Japan on the freedoms of govt workers.

    Yes, there are some electoral checks available to the Japanese public if they don’t like what the PM is doing. The changes in the election system (single member districts, campaigning on issues) make the prospects for a change in govt much more likely and desirable from the perspective of the public interest.

    But applying checks on the actions of public servants based on their special role in the system is established practice in Japan, lest we forget.

    To Ab: Sure it’s calculated, but he has calculated WRONG. Getting along with Asia is more important than satisfying the conservative base, so he should accept the next court ruling that tells him his visits are unconstitutional and stop going!

    To Inquisitor: What the hell are you trying to say? I’d say just read a Plain Language manual. Seriously, if you can’t get out what you want to say in a few lines I question if YOU even know what you’re saying. The state is an atrocity? Sure…

  7. Adamu — Point well taken. I should have been more specific: public office does not (to my knowledge) prevent Koizumi from visiting the shrine as a private citizen. You’re right that this is being tested as we speak, but I took everlasting’s comment to mean that as a public office holder Koizumi had a personal or moral constraint, as opposed to a legal one, not to visit Yasukuni.

    My correction: “Mr. Koizumi is free to take whatever action he likes within the constraints described above, and within the constraints of the law.”

  8. Note to self: New business model…

    1) Post about Yasukuni every day
    2) Get lots of comments
    3) ???
    4) Profit!

  9. To Adamu: Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni do more than just satisfy the conservative base. They go a long way towards standing up and making a statement to the world that Japan will no longer tolerate the crap that China’s and Korea’s governments seem so willing to deal out. Japan is NOT in the wrong here, and Koizumi refuses to cave in.

    Japan COULD give in and try to get along with those two governments by caving, but for what purpose? To keep trade flowing? No way. Trade will flow irrespective of whether Koizumi goes to Yasukuni or not. But those governments, particularly China, need Japan to serve as a scapegoat, and if it’s not Yasukuni, then it’s textbooks, and if not that, it’ll be something else.

    Japan will be a laughing stock if it continues apologizing for something it’s already corrected and for which NO APOLOGY IS NECESSARY – Japan has apologized on numerous occasions, has lived by its peaceful constitution, has established a free and open society, has contributed to the peaceful development of the global economy, all the while cooperating with its East Asian neighbors – what more can it be expected to do? Stop one guy from visiting a war memorial??? Come on, it’s a BS complaint, and Koizumi knows it.

  10. As a legal matter, we must clarify a few points beofore we discuss the matter of Yasukuni Shrine and the PM’s visit.

    The article 19th of the constitution gives all people in Japan to enjoy their freedom of thoughts and belief. This can never be intervened by any restricstion as long as it remain inside of the people.

    The matter is whether it is possible to put constrains over the freedom of thoughts and belief that are expressed outside of a person. This is also protected by the Article 21st of the Constitution, but this protection has certain limitations compared to what the article 19th proctect.

    Regarding to the PM’s visit over Yasukuni Shrine, it is a freedom of thoughts that are expressed outside of a person. I am sure no one objects about this.

    The naxt matter is if that of the public servant or a person who holds the public office can be constrained more than that of the private citizens. The Supreme Court of Japan says, that public servants’ rights can be constrained more than that of the private citizens on certain occasions such as rights to act collectively like “Strike” in Sarufutsu case.

    However, in the Sarufutsu case, the matter was the conflict between the article 28th (right of workers to organize) and the article 21st. This canse cannot fully apply to a case of Yasukuni Shrine.

    About the Yasukuni Shine, the Supreme Court sees that a matter before it is the Article 21st (freedom of Expression), the Article 20 (Separation of Religion and Politics). The courts adopt the similar measure of “Lemon Test”. The court consisters the act of a public office can be sucular purpose, the effect of the act can encourage or discourage certain religion, and can be an excessive entaglement. This tree steps can be considered comprehensively.This is called, “Purpose and Effect” Measure.

    The Osaka High Court says that the PM’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in the past violated this measure since his way of visiting was more religious purpose(his way of praying such as paying sacred Shinto tree branch), and his visit accumulates a lot of attention to a Yasukuni Shrine and encourage its religious belief. As the assumption to apply this “Purpose and Effect Measure”, the court foud that the way of Koizumi’s visit such as using his official car, wearing a claw hammer, and writing down his name on the notebook of the Shrine is done as his official work.

    So, this time, Koizumi paid attention to 2 things. One is not to be considered as his official work by wearing his usual suit inseatd of a claw hammer. The second one is not to be considered as religious purpose but secular purpose by walking the usual street to the Shrine that are publically open, and not writting down his nane on the notebook of the Shrine.

    Considering these points, I think Koizumi did very well no matter how much Korea and China criticize his visit. I think all the matters in this issue in Japan is whether his visit is a violation of consitutional law. Korea and China’s demand cannot be inculde to a matter of constititonal review.

    I am also quite surprised that how much PM Koizumi paid attention to the court opinion of the Osaka High Court. I was afraid if he would have ignored the opinion of the court, but clearly, he really paid attention to it. So, I do not think that his visit this time should not be criticized too much from non-legal aspects since his freedom to visit is protected by the constitution with constrains of the Article 21 (limitation of Freedon of Expression) and the Artcile 20 (Separation of Religions and Politics).

  11. 燕尾服
    claw hammer // cutaway coat // dress coat // dress suit // swallow-tail coat // swallow-tailed coat // swallowtail // tail coat // tailcoat

  12. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a term, “claw hammer” has the meaning of “tailcoat”. I used “claw hammer” for this meaning.

    Main Entry: claw hammer
    Function: noun
    1 : a hammer with one end of the head forked for pulling out nails
    2 : TAILCOAT

    and a term, “trailcoat”, has the meaning below.

    Main Entry: tail·coat
    Pronunciation: -“kOt
    Function: noun
    : a coat with tails; especially : a man’s full-dress coat with two long tapering skirts at the back

  13. I did a double take when I first saw the word because I’d never heard it used before. Mutantfrog, that translation must be really weaing you thin. You own the best electronic dictionary of any man on the planet but didn’t consult it for clawhammer? I suggest a nice meal of stinky tofu and eight hours of rest.

  14. Authentic Japanese people is angry against China as for yasukuni problem still now.
    In Japan,many kinds of god exist.The god of steel is seems to be angry.

Comments are closed.