Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who is still trying to become the next prime minister despite not having a snowball’s chance in hell, has a new plan to save Japan. He reckons that by taking the gods out of Yasukuni, the Emperor will be able to visit and none of those pesky lawsuits will have any standing. The English report:
Aso, known as a diplomatic hawk who has offended China and South Korea with remarks in the past, said his plan was not aimed at mollifying foreign countries. Instead, he hopes to resolve a domestic debate that flares up whenever a Japanese leader visits the shrine and has prevented the emperor from going there since 14 “Class A” war criminals were added to the lists of those honored at the shrine in 1978.
“It’s about expressing our respect and gratitude for those who died for their country and praying for the peace of the souls of those who died…without all this fuss,” Aso told a news conference.
“The tens of thousands of soldiers who died crying ‘Long Life to the Emperor’ filled those words with deep emotion,” Aso said in a statement outlining his idea. “So I strongly pray that the emperor can visit Yasukuni.”
Yomiuri Shimbun’s blurb says that the strategy to pull this off goes roughly as follows:
- Dissolve the religious foundation that administers Yasukuni and set up a new private foundation (zaidan hojin) to run the shrine.
- By special act of the Diet, establish a special corporation to administer Yasukuni.
- Most amusingly, change the shrine’s official name to 靖国社 – removing the character for “god” in the word “shrine.”
Adding to the craziness of this scheme, Yomiuri mentions at the end of its article that Aso wants this process implemented for all of the “gokoku jinja”—a group of 52 shrines scattered across Japan enshrining those from the area who died at war–“regional Yasukunis,” so to speak.
Needless to say, if you can’t de-enshrine war criminals, it’s gonna be tough to de-Shintoize Yasukuni (and, for that matter, 52 other shrines).
Just in case you’re worried, Aso still does not have enough support to run and hasn’t officially announced his candidacy yet. UPDATE 8/10: I spoke too soon. Muddafugga gots his twenty. Looks like he’s announcing later this month.