Yasukuni Shrine, Japan’s controversial unofficial war memorial, is in financial trouble, says the Asahi Shimbun. Apparently, the drop in major donations spurred by the disappearance of the war generation has run headfirst into plans for a revamping of its war-nostalgia museum in preparation for its 130th anniversary. Let’s look at the numbers:
Total cost for renovating the museum: 8.3 billion yen
Annual budget: 1.8 billion, down 5% from last year and almost half of the 1985 budget of 3.2 billion yen. So they’re dipping into the endowment, it looks like.
In terms of revenue, Teikoku Databank shows that Yasukuni only reported 235 million yen (parking fees, rent for the gift shop and building, and entrance fees for the museum), down from 400 million yen in 1996 (NOTE: edited from original post). It’s the 3rd highest earner of all Shinto shrines, but only makes 1/5 of the top earner, Meiji Jingu. At this rate, the shrine is currently moving forward with rationalizations such as not replacing retired workers, outsourcing some operations, and getting estimates from multiple contractors and auctioning out construction/repairs.
Obviously, this development will have an effect on the recent reemergence of proposals to nationalize the shrine. Although the Asahi warns that “it is doubtful that Yasukuni will agree to dissolve itself” it’s not like a bankrupt Yasukuni (or its backers in the war bereaved association) could really say no to national patronage if it means saving the expensive but apparently effective museum.