Key Facts of Yasukuni Shrine
Friday, May 27, 2005 Posted: 06:56 AM JST
Some facts about Yasukuni Shrine.
Yasukuni Shrine was established in 1869 as Tokyo Shokonsha, and was renamed Yasukuni Shrine in 1879
The shrine was constructed by order of the Meiji Emperor to commemorate the victims of the Boshin War.
"Yasu" means peace, "kuni" means country. Yasukuni therefore means "peaceful country".
The Japanese government funded the shrine until 1945. It is now a private religious organization.
The shrine is dedicated to about 2.5 million people who died for Japan in the conflicts accompanying the Meiji Restoration, the Satsuma Rebellion and similar domestic conflicts, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Manchurian Incident, the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War.
They are enshrined in form of written records, which note name, origin and date and place of death of everyone enshrined.
Included are around 1,000 war criminals convicted and executed by a series of Allied tribunals during and after the war.
War criminals were designated "Class A", "B" or "C" by the Allied tribunals mainly according to their rank in the military or government. "Class A" war criminals included wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo, as well as former war ministers, foreign ministers and generals. (Such as Seishiro Itagaki, Heitaro Kimura, Kenji Doihara, Iwane Matsui, Akira Muto, Koki Hirota, Yoshijiro Umezu, Kuniaki Koiso, Kiichiro Hiranuma, Toshio Shiratori, Shigenori Togo, Osami Nagano, Yosuke Matsuoka.)
Fourteen "Class A" war criminals were officially enshrined at Yasukuni along with about 1,700 other war dead on October 17, 1978. When news of the secret ceremony leaked out six months later it caused an uproar.
After the revelation of 1979, the Emperor of Japan stopped paying visits to the shrine.
Yasuhiro Nakasone was the first postwar prime minister to make an official visit to the shrine. He paid his respects there in 1985, but abandoned further visits after protests in China.
Junichiro Koizumi promised to visit Yasukuni as prime minister during his campaign for ruling party president in 2001. Some believe this helped him win the election because it secured the votes of Nippon Izokukai, the powerful national association of bereaved families of the war dead.
Koizumi has worshipped at Yasukuni every year. He has yet to go this year.
Koizumi and other lawmakers say their visits to the shrine are not intended to glorify war but to honor the war dead and pray for peace.
Visits by Japanese prime ministers to the shrine are seen by some Japanese citizens as a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.
Japanese courts however have ruled that these visits do not violate the principle of separation of church and state.
The Yushukan, a large museum commemorating Japan's wars is located next to the shrine's main buildings. The museum portrays Japan's conquest of east Asia during the pre-World War II period as an effort to save east Asia from the imperial advances of western powers.
The English website of Yasukuni claims that "Japanís dream of building a Great East Asia was necessitated by history and it was sought after by the countries of Asia." The Japanese website claims that "Comfort women were not forced to serve by the Japanese Empire. Koreans were not forced to change their names to Japanese ones." The shrine also points to atrocities committed by the Allied forces, such as the sinking of the Tsushima Maru, a transport ship torpedoed and sunk leading to the deaths over 1500 people, of which 700 were elementary school children.
Attempts to remove the war criminals from Yasukuni Shrine have failed because the shrine says this is impossible.
Some extreme factions in Japan claim that the 1,000 are not war criminals.
Visit by Japanese Prime Ministers to Yasukuni Shrine:
1945 October 23/November 20 - Kijuuro Hidehara
1951 October 18 - Shigeru Yoshida
1952 October 17 - Shigeru Yoshida
1953 April 23 Shigeru Yoshida
1954 April 24 Shigeru Yoshida
1957 April 25 - Nobusuke Kishi
1958 October 21 - Nobusuke Kishi
1960 October 18 - Hayato Ikeda
1961 June 18/November 15 - Hayato Ikeda
1962 November 04 - Hayato Ikeda
1963 September 22 - Hayato Ikeda
1965 April 21 - Eisaku Satoh
1966 April 21 - Eisaku Satoh
1967 April 22 - Eisaku Satoh
1968 April 23 - Eisaku Satoh
1969 April 22/October 18 - Eisaku Satoh
1970 April 23/October 17 - Eisaku Satoh
1971 April 22/October 22 - Eisaku Satoh
1972 April 22 - Eisaku Satoh; July 8 - Kakuei Tanaka
1973 April 23/October 18 - Kakuei Tanaka
1974 April 23/October 19 - Kakuei Tanaka
1975 April 22/August 15 - Takeo Miki
1976 October 18 - Takeo Miki
1977 April 22 - Takeo Fukuda
1978 April 22/August 15/Oct.18 - Takeo Fukuda
1979 April 21/October 18 - Masayuki Ohhira
1980 April 21 - Masayuki Ohhira; August 15/October 18 - Zenkou Suzuki
1981 April 21/August 15/October 17 - Zenkou Suzuki
1982 April 21/August 15/October 18 - Zenkou Suzuki
1983 April 21/August 15/October 18 - Yasuhiro Nakasone
1984 January 05/April 21/August 15/October 18 - Yasuhiro Nakasone
1985 January 21/April 22/August 15 - Yasuhiro Nakasone
1996 July 29 - Ryutaro Hashimoto
2001 August 13 - Junichiro Koizumi
2002 April 21 - Junichiro Koizumi
2003 January 14 - Junichiro Koizumi
2004 January 1 - Junichiro Koizumi
A count of enshired kami (spirits) of all Japanese and former colonial soldiers (Korean and Taiwanese) enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine.
- Boshin War (Civil War, 1867-68): 7,751
- Southwest War (Civil War, 1877): 6,971
- Taiwan Expedition (Suppression of Taiwan rebellions against Japanese occupation, 1874): 1,130
- Sino-Japanese War (Invasion of China, 1894-95): 13,619
- Beiqing Incident (Invasion of China, 1901): 1,256
- Russo-Japanese War (Conflict with Russia and invasion of China and Korea, 1904-05): 88,429
- World War I (Invasion of China and Mongolia, 1914-18): 4,850
- Tsi-nan Incident (Invasion of China, 1928): 185
- Mukden Incident (Invasion of Manchuria, 1931): 17,176
- Marco Polo Bridge Incident (Invasion of China, 1937-1945): 191,243
- World War II (Conflict with Soviet Union and United States and invasion of Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia): 2,133,885
Sources: www.japan-guide.com, Reuters, www.yasukuni.or.jp, www.jiyuu-shikan.org, www.nationmaster.com
* * *