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News Analysis: What's difference between Abe, Yasukuni Shrine, Nippon Kaigi and return of militarism? Nothing

Xinhua, April 22, 2015 Adjust font size:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the war criminal-honoring Yasukuni Shrine on Tuesday, with a handful of other political bigwigs also making a similar offering, although aide Seiichi Eto opted to visit the controversial shrine in person.

Ritual offerings giving by a proxy are still a tacit blessing given to the 14 souls who are enshrined at Yasukuni and were found guilty of committing Class A war crimes. Ignorance here is no excuse and the prime minister's previous attempts to draw similarities with U.S. dignitaries paying homage at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, is utterly farcical.

There is a vast difference in the two places, with Arlington standing as an eternal memorial of the sorrow of the United States and the bodies buried or ashes interred there of fallen soldiers and their families, are done so regardless of religion or race.

There are absolutely no similarities, according to leading historians and authorities on the matter. Yasukuni, indeed, serves a far more sinister and clandestine purpose: warping history and repeating the beats of an old militaristic drum in the hope that ultra-rightwingers will once again stand up and fight for their emperor and for Japan.

"The international community fully understands that the Yasukuni shrine stands as a living testament to a very dangerous future ideology for Japan and one that's slowly being renewed, and, in addition, functions to celebrate past evils inflicted on countries Japan used to occupy, such as South Korea and China," David McLellan, a professor of Asian Studies told Xinhua.

"Very little is known about the organization that runs the shrine except that the shrine itself is an individual religious corporation and does not belong to the Association of Shinto Shrines, according to its documents. While on the outside, to the unsuspecting eye, the shrine looks much like any other, the fact of the matter couldn't be further from the truth," he said.

The shrine, located in Tokyo's Chiyoda ward, is run by a highly secretive, private foundation and the 14 Class-A war criminals were enshrined there without the public's knowledge in 1978, and nowadays the shrine's museum openly depicts the war criminals as martyrs and misrepresents Japan's war in China as an act of " suppression" rather than one of aggression.

McLellan explained that the notorious shrine also has deep connections with Nippon Kaigi, an organization that is actively seeking to revive the Empire of Japan, by hollowing out the constitution and whitewashing Japan's wartime atrocities.

The defeat 70 years ago is a fact that many Nippon Kaigi members refute, as well as pertinent details of WWII, such as the comfort women issue and the Nanjing Massacre -- all well documented and proved by leading historians -- but denied, rejected or whitewashed by factions of both Nippon Kaigi and Yasukuni's organizers.

"Investigations have revealed that along with the prime minister himself, 15 of his cabinet members are members of the Discussion Group of the Nippon Kaigi Diet Members, which is affiliated with the Nippon Kaigi Japan Conference, and is the biggest right-wing organization in Japan, bar none," McLellan said.

Abe and his amped up revisionist moves have caused a great deal of upset in the international community, punctuated by the fact that the whole world is watching him keenly as he prepares a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII to be delivered this summer.

Concerns are rising that indications may be suggesting that changes to the details or language connected to the atrocities cause by the Imperial Army during the colonial rule of their victims, like those related to the forcible coercion, conscription and rape of thousands of sex slaves, as well as the denial or dilution of the Nanjing Massacre, may become Japan's new stance, despite the advice from a myriad of leaders and advisors past and present.

In a recent meeting comprised of experts to help him craft his war speech, Abe hinted that the postwar years and Japan's rehabilitation were more important to focus on than the war itself and the need to offer certain words of remorse for Japan's actions were redundant, as previous leaders had already said them.

Abe's administration has set about revising textbooks, so the younger generations are presented with a warped, yet rosier history of Japan and the government here has even attempted to whitewash historical facts in textbooks used in schools overseas, like in the United States for example.

"It's high time the Japanese and international community realized the incontrovertible like between Abe, his Cabinet, Nippon Kaigi and the Yasukuni shrine. They all harbor and are propagating the same Imperialistic ideology. One that wants to see Japan revert back to its old ways of Imperialism and militarism under the emperor," McLellan said.

The museum itself has numerous displays depicting Japan's war- time endeavors, but has blatantly misrepresented the actual facts, in not referring to the well-documented Nanjing Massacre, chemical and other heinous experiments conducted on prisoners of war and the suffering of thousands of comfort women at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army, for instance.

Politicians who visit the shrine insisting they are paying tribute to the lives lost in WWII, are wittingly or otherwise extremely misguided.

With visiting dignitaries, the more truth that becomes available about the controversial shrine, the more internationally- informed and acceptable choices will be made.

The offering by Abe at Yasukuni, as well as those by others, and the ministers who may attend in person over the three-day spring festival to pay their respects are, consciously or not, surreptitiously supporting historical revisions, the whitewashing of Japan's war crimes and brutality, giving a tacit nod to Nippon Kaigi and pledging support for a new Empire of Japan. "So is it any wonder why Japan's neighbors feel hurt, upset and angered by such gestures?" asked McLellan rhetorically. Endi