Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Nothing he says or does will be good enough

While I was in Hong Kong, ( Sadly, not that I will back there anytime soon.....) I had a chance to read about the Japan -China dispute from the "other side". Reading the South China Mornng Post each morning was very illuminating indeed. Especially the reaction to Prime Minister Koizumi's heartfelt apology given at the African Asian summit in Jakarta. According to President HU:

"Remorse expressed for the war of aggression should be translated into action," Mr Hu said after their talks at the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta.

"[Japan] should never do anything again that would hurt the feelings of the Chinese people or the people of other Asian countries."

What he is talking about there is visiting Yasukuni Shrine here in Tokyo, the symbolic equivalent of the President of the United States visiting Arlington National cemetery. They also object to the revisionist school books that are supposedly being used in Japanese schools.

Its an emotional issue given the history of Japanese misdeeds in Asia and the suffering it caused. It also tends to ignore the very real facts of the case.

Fact 1)- Yasukuni is not a Japanese government owned Shrine. It is run private religious foundation that has run the shrine since the Japanese government was forced to give it up after the second world war. No Japanese government official has any say in who is enshrined there. The foundation offers a strong defense of its logic on its web site though. Now last time I checked, Koizumi is the "Japanese" Prime Minister.

Now the point of view of the Yasukuni gate keepers is definitely not an American one and I have no doubt that it pisses off the Chinese. ( They never refer to the war as WWII). However it is the accepted war memorial in Japan. And politicians going there is not new. According to Hideaki Kase in a speech to the foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo:

First I would like to point out to you, this problem is a relatively new, going back at the most 26 years, but mainly for 15 years.

When I joined this distinguished Club, no member would have bothered about the Emperor honoring the shrine by his visit, or of our prime ministers paying homage there. In those days, there were members who covered the birth of Manchukuo, or who were survivors of HMS Repulse when she went down off the Malay coast, and there were many who reported the war in the Pacific. To them, how a nation honored its war dead was up to each nation. The Emperor Showa [Hirohito]personally paid homage to Yasukuni Shrine on eight occasions after the termination of hostilities of the Second World War in 1945. He visited the shrine in November 1945, October 1952, October 1954, April 1957, April 1959, October 1965, October 1969 and November 1975.

Prime Ministers Shigeru Yoshida paid homage to the shine five times between 1951, a year before Japan regained independence, and 1954, Nobusuke Kishi twice during his 3 years and five months in office, Hayato Ikeda four times during his term of 4 years and four months; Eisaku Sato 11 times in 7 years and eight months; Kakuei Tanaka five times during his 2 years and 5 months; Takeo Miki three times in 2 years; Takeo Fukuda 4 times during his 2 years; Masayoshi Ohira 3 times during his 1 year and 7 months; Zenko Suzuki 8 times during his 2 years and 5 months and Yasuhiro Nakasone 10 times between December 1982 and August 1985. If Mr. Koizumi keeps his word, which I believe he will, that he intends to pay homage to the Yasukuni Shrine the day after tomorrow, he will be the first premier to do so since Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto went to the shrine in August 1996. Mr. Ohira incidentally was a devout Christian.

The current controversy over the Prime Minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine stems from a number of thorny issues. One has to do with the principle of separation of state and religion as set forth in the constitution. Under this principle, those who oppose worship at Yasukuni Shrine by cabinet members contend that the government is prohibited from associating in any manner with religion. However, the current controversies were brought about mainly by strong opposition to Mr. Koizumi's announced intention to pay homage to the shrine as raised by the governments of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. Their basis for opposition is that the so-called "Class A war criminals" who were tried by the so-called "Tokyo International War Tribunal" were enshrined there as deities among the war dead.

In my view the statements of both China and Korea amount to interference in our internal affairs. How a nation honor its war dead should be decided by that nation only. I am deeply worried that such tactics practiced by the two countries could seriously harm our relations with them. According to a number of recent public opinion surveys, more than 50 percent of those polled support the Prime Minister’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

That's a slim majority in favor, American politicians would pay attention to it, why not Japanese. Oh I forgot, since President Hu runs a COMMUNIST COUNTRY he forgot about that whole listening to the people thing.

Fact 2)- Less than 1% of Japanese Schools have any intention of using the textbooks. And the fact that they are produced privately in a country that has Constitutional guarantees of Freedom of Speech does not faze the Chinese a bit. To quote from Gaijin Biker:

"In response to China's complaints, Japan's ambassador to Beijing, Koreshige Anami, unleashed one of the great smackdowns in diplomatic history. Again from the BBC:

Earlier,Japan's ambassador to Beijing defended the new text books in the face of criticism from China.Koreshige Anami said the textbooks were produced by private companies and not the government."In Japan we ensure freedom of speech and publication," he told the Chinese foreign ministry, according to an embassy spokesman.


Read the whole post here.

A little disigenious, since Japan does have an approval process. However they have no way to compel a school to use the books. Unlike China, that tells a little creative history of its own.

(Thanks to Japundit for the graphic!)

Japundit and Boing Boing also point out another incredibly petty example of China telling other people what to do.

Like I have said from the start this is a contrived matter to accomplish the Commie's bidding. Nothing Koizumi does will make them happy nor should he try.



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