| Japan`s Asahi Shimbun through Saturday`s editorial talked about visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, proposing considering new ways to pay worship to the war dead that does not cause diplomatic conflict. It said political leaders` visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where A-class war criminals are placed, could be perceived as denial of war responsibility and violation of the principle of separation of politics and religion.
The annual autumn festival of Yasukuni Shrine, which lasted from Thursday to Sunday, was joined by some 160 Diet members including two incumbent cabinet members. This year had the biggest visiting number. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donated a symbolic gift to the shrine, but many say he will pay visit at least once during his term in office.
At Yasukuni Shrine, the bodies of 14 A-class war criminals are placed including Hideki Tojo, prime minister at a time Japan raised Pacific War. Japan`s extreme-right forces say, "Every country pays tribute to war dead who had fought for the country. Why should paying visit to Yasukuni shrine be denied?" However, Yasukuni Shrine is different from other memorial halls for war dead. Japanese prime minister and cabinet members visiting the shrine where war criminals are placed and paying tribute there is an act of denial of the history of Japan`s wrongdoings and invasion, and is a provocative act festering wounds of people of victim countries such as Korea and China.
When Junichiro Koizumi was prime minister in 2001, Japan had discussed creating a separate memorial hall that can replace the Yasukuni Shrine. Potential measures were establishing new national memorial hall, enlarging the Chidorigafuchi memorial park where war dead of soldiers and civilians at Pacific War are placed, or spinning off A-class war criminals from the Yasukuni Shrine. However, conservative forces resisted saying the Yasukuni Shrine will be degraded and the issue is left unsolved until now.
When U.S. Treasury Secretary John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Japan early October, they paid tribute at the Chidorigafuchi memorial park instead of the Yasukuni Shrine. If Japan tries to justify Yasukuni Shrine tribute with nationalism logic, the resistance of other countries will only intensify. If Japan truly pursues a peaceful good neighbor policy, it should choose a new war dead tribute method that surrounding countries can accept and for its own sake.