This is a blog I had initially tried to write about two years ago... I wrote the opening line back in 2012 of December 28. Who says you can't look back at the past and try and move forward?
Well... if you are the Prime Minister of Japan, apparently you can't.
On December 26, 2013, one year to the day after taking office as Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo (surname first) visited the Yasukuni Shrine in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo for 15 minutes.
What's the big deal, right? He was simply paying his respects to the dead, right? A Shinto shrine dedicated to Japans soldiers... its war dead... what's wrong with that?
"I prayed to pay respect for the war dead who sacrificed their precious lives and hoped that they rest in peace," he told the media.
Well, the Yasukuni Shrine is both famous and infamous because amongst the 2.5 million war dead enshrined at Yaskuni there are also 14 Class A war criminals from World War 2 enshrined.
It is because of those 14 individuals - Japanese leaders who were either executed or who died in prison or during their war crime trials - that countries such as China and South Korea are pissed off royally not only at Abe, but also at Japan for allowing their leader to do such a thing.
Look... I can understand wanting to pay respect to the dead... it's not MY thing, but I don't begrudge anyone the right to do so... but why did Abe chose to honor the Japanese soldiers as opposed to say... oh, I don't know... the people who died during the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear diasters up in the northeastern part of Japan?
Because Abe is a self-serving idiot. He is a war-monger with a deep-rooted nationalist pride that is throwing Japan into a state of extreme chaos. He is going to lead Japan into a war. A war it will not win.
Both China and South Korea have warned that Abe's actions at the Yasukuni Shrine will further erode relations with Japan... possibly pushing it closer to an all out dismissal of Japan's right to exist.
You will recall that Japan doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation, historically speaking, in its relations with China, South Korea... hell... all of Asia... and specifically, because it terrorized China before and during WW2... and had colonized Korea not too many years before that.
In fact, you can thank Japan's militaristic actions of the past 100 years for the reason that China is the way it is... and Korea, too... and I'm not just talking about SOUTH Korea. I'm talking about good ol North Korea.
You can read about the history of Japanese-Chinese relations HERE and HERE. I do write these blogs for a reason. You can also read about those damn Southern Islands that Japan says it owns that has South Korea, China and Taiwan all with twitch trigger fingers HERE.
|"Hey China and South Korea! Read between the lines!" Photo of Abe from Reuters back in April 19, 2013.|
Now... I believe that Abe did NOT visit the Yasukuni Shrine in an official capacity... and that it was done solely as an individual thing... but who's kidding whom? You don't get to be an ordinary citizen at any time when you are an elected official.
That would be like saying it is okay for the Mayor of Toronto (where I live) to hook up with hookers, get drunk and smoke crack, but it's okay because he was finished with work for the day. I'm not saying any of those things happened, by the way, because that would be libelous, and I have no idea what any Mayor does when they are not in their City Hall office... I suppose it would still be being the Mayor.
And the same holds true for the Prime Minister of Japan.
By the way... I am currently reading a book by Canada's CURRENT Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It's not a book about politics, it's a book about the history of hockey (ice) in Ontario - specifically the history of hockey in Toronto. It's dry, because that's what history is, but dammit! He's captured my attention - in a good way! Thank you Prime Minister Harper for teaching me more about what it means to be not only Canadian, Torontonian, but also a hockey fan!
Now... let's get back to Japanese Prime Minister Abe.
His visit to the Yasukuni Shrine also raised the hackles of one US President Barack Obama. That country says it is disappointed "that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors."
Japanese analysts were also dumfounded who thought Abe might stay away from inciting the foreign masses and instead take the pragmatic approach to his leadership and focus on reviving Japan's crappy economy.
After his visit inside the Yasukuni Shrine, Abe says that he is NOT paying homage to war criminals... that he is not specifically praying for the souls of the 14 war criminals.
"Unfortunately, a Yasukuni visit has largely turned into a political and diplomatic issue," Abe states. "It is not my intention to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people."
He adds that Japan must never wage war again. "This is my conviction, based on the severe remorse for the past."
I believe if one is smart enough, Abe is saying that Japan will not START a war, but it won't back away from one. Probably because the U.S. will come to Japan's rescue... and if it won't... well... that's why Abe wants to rewrite Japan's Constitution... so that it may once again be allowed to form its own armed forces... a power that was stripped of it after Japan's surrender to The Allies at the end of World War 2.
Whatever Abe's desires are or says they are... he should have been smart enough NOT to have visited the Yasukuni Shrine. But he's not. And neither are the people of Japan... you not only vot3ed him into office... you've done it twice.
Pride goeth before the fall.
Photo at the very top courtesy of Wikipedia. Photographer Wiiii.