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3 panoramas by toshio fuji
An active memorial of WW2 in Japan
On August 15, 1945, Japan Imperial surrendered to Allied Powers, and the WW2 had ended all. After that everything in Japan had been changed. Name of nation, territory and the constitution. Of course, all militaries and war industries were discontinued. In such stream of history, the Yasukuni-Jinjya is one exceptional war system which is doing same job as before the war even today.
The Yasukuni-Jinjya is a temple of Shinto, holding memorial services to all soldiers who died in wars. The dead soldiers can not war again, and anyway they need a place to sleep, so the Allied Powers might approve it to continue.
The Yasukuni-Jinjya is at center of Tokyo and next to the Imperial Palace. The meaning of the name “Yasu-kuni” is “keep-nation”, and “Jin-jya” is a type name of temples. it was named by Meiji-Emperor, and established in 1869 by him.
The Shinto is Japanese original religion, and much different from Christianity. The Shinto is more simple and primitive religion born in small island Japan. Before the war, the Shinto was the state religion and the Yasukuni-jinjya was one of center of the Shinto. Then all Japanese soldiers were taught that “you should die, but come back to the Yasukuni-Jinjya. No problem.”
I did not go the war, but almost soldiers might not believe it. However it could be little help that they have a place which reminds their death to people. Therefore 2,466,532 soldiers are sleeping there, and below is the gate of the Yasukuni-Jinjya where they fried back.
After the war, new constitution of Japan separated the religion and politics. So the Shinto lost thier special status, and the Yasukuni-Jinjya became a independent temple. But the Yasukuni-Jinjya has still many problems inside and outside of Japan. There have been over handreds of trials after the war. I think it is evidence that the Yasukuni-Jinjya is a “living past”, and we can learn many things from examination of the problems.
At first, the Yasukuni-Jinjya is currently not national memorial. So it is difficult to go there as official business of Emperor or the prime minister. Few times it was planed to change the Yasukuni-Jinjya to a national memorial, but it could not be success, because it need to remove the Shinto from the Yasukuni-Jinjya. It is nonsense.
Another idea is to establish new national memorial without any religion, and move the sleeping soldiers to there. But who can move the soldiers? And what services will be given to them without any religion? It is also nonsense. It is possible to separate it from politics, but no body can change the Shinto itself, nor its history. Below is entrance temple (Hai-den) of the Yasukuni-Jinjya.
It is a traditional Japanese architecture, and 2 symbols explain what it is. One is marks of “chrysanthemum with 16 petals” on white curtains. The mark is family mark of Japan Emperor. Also big gate called as “Torii” indicates here is a jinjya (temple of Shinto).
Everyday many old soldiers come to here to meet their friends who died in the war. The old soldiers made current rich and peacefull Japan from bankruptcy of nation at 1945. And there efforts were dedicated to their dead friends. Therefore we Japanese have to thank them on it, if they were murders. This is one truth, and I recognize it.
The other hand, this is also true that Japanese soldiers killed many people in China, Korea or other asian countries. Japan had some reasons to hold the war, but it is meaningless for the people. So they hate us, and hope our death. Also they deny the Yasukuni-Jinjya. I understand them.
Then what we Japanese had to do after the war? We recoginzed that our actions were evil, promised that we will not hold war again and paied much money to the coutries in this 60 years. However they say that “it is not enogh”. We understand it is not enough, but we can not do any more. We can not change past, nor revive the dead people. All we could do is for current or future, and living people.
We can not recognize killing of Japanese, because it is agaist our current recognition “killing is evil”. Also we can not recognize to break the Yasukuni-Jinjya, because we can not change past. And I recognize the Japanese recognitions and history. Only I can do here is adding some explanations about why we did so, what we think now or what we will do. Because the information is necessary to judge our peace promise is true or not.
The most important problem in the Yasukuni-Jinjya may be Hideki Tojyo who was the prime minister of Japan through the WW2, and leader of the army. He was killed by his guilty after Tokyo military court in 1948, but he is placed there. According to the fact, foregin people are saying that “Japan does not think the war wrong”, “the peace promise is a lie” or “Japan should hold war again”. I agree them. Actually say, I also felt it strange at first time.
This was mystery for me in this 30 years, but I could solve it after seeing a figure of horse below in the Yasukuni-Jinjya.
Figure of horse
The Yasukuni-Jinjya is a temple of Shinto, and the Shinto has no god nor canon (like bible or koran). That is to say, there is no judge nor rule book in the game. Therefore we Japanese does not have obvious idea of “good or evil”.
Also the Shinto has no class among human being, animals and lifeless things, but recognize equal “soul” in each body. So the horses which died in the war are placed there, as same as human soldiers. Also you can see a figure of dogs which died in the war at left, and a pigeon at right of the horse. Additionally, many figures of gunship, canon etc. are there.
Who askes the horse was good or evil? Important thing for the Shinto is “soul is, or not”. And important thing for the Yasukuni-Jinjya is “worked for wars, or not”. Therefore Hideki Tojyo is placed there, in spite of his war guilty. Say other words, the Shinto can not understand the word “guilty”.
After reading this, foregin people may say “it is nonsense” or “it is irresponsible”. I agree them but I have to say it is true, and one of important feature of Japanese that “we can not judge well good or evil”. The most reason is our history in which we have done very few evil things. So we need to do more evil things to understand it, but I do not want it. Nor no body want it. I hope we can understandd it more from other unfortunate histories in the world.
Lastly, In 30 Sept. 2005, Osaka high court judged that “worship at the Yasukuni-Jinjya by the prime minister” is a violation of the constitution. Though it is not final or common judgement. Then I want to say my opinions here.
1. The constitution of Japan provides that “freedom of religions” in it’s line 20-1, and “separation of religions and politics” in line 20-3. I agree them both. So, I agree that “worship at the Yasukuni-Jinjya by the prime minister” is a violation of the constitution.
2. By the way, as a fundamental rule, any law can not affect things (actions) which was happen before the law was established. So, I recognize the Yasukuni-Jinjya, if their history has problems against current law.
3. Also, as a general rule, the law is a function to manage current society, and it’s object is to make better future. It is because no body can change past. So, it is a good idea to separate the “separation of religions and politics” to “current or future”, and “past”. That is to say, governments can not have religious education, nor make new religious institution or organization, but can have some religious ceremonies which are related to past or historical things. The integration of religion and politics makes unhappy results like discrimination, but perfect separation of them may lose meanings of religions. This is also unhappy thing, and against the “freedom of religions”. Because the government is originally a set of person. So there may be a “proper distance” between religions and politics. At least, current situation is not the best.
4. About “worship at the Yasukuni-Jinjya by the Emperor”, it is not prohibited by any law, because the Emperor itself is separated from politics. And the constitution provides that “the Emperor has religious ceremonies” in line 7-10. But the Emperor could not go there in this 30 years, because there were many negative opinions.
I think that the Emperor should say “I have to go there”, and explain “why I have to go”. Because the Yasukuni-Jinjya was established by his family Meiji Emperor. So only he can say “it is mine”.
The silence is a good idea to let the history go past. But it is not fair, nor creative. His request may cause more confusion, and even worse results at that time, but I believe that it is better to say for future of Japan and neighbouring countries.
© 2005 Toshio Fuji