井の中の蛙

7/21/2006

Yasukuni: Why the Emperor Stopped Going

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 3:57 am

Tomita Tomohiko's MemoThere have been two relatively important Japan history-related news items in the news of late. There have been revelations about US covert funding of Japanese political parties (perhaps more on this in another posting) and separately, evidence has emerged, scooped by Nikkei, to suggest that emperor Showa (Hirohito) stopped going to Yasukuni shrine because of his displeasure at the enshrinement 分祀(ぶんし) of war criminals there in October 1978 as martyrs. There has been a lot of speculation over the years the exact reason he stopped going. I will save my own thoughts on this issue for later but in this posting I just want to assemble some of the material on this available in the news online.

Emperor Showa made his last visit to the shrine in November, 1975 after the issue had become more political with prime minister Miki’s (三木武夫) visit on August 15th of that year. A former Imperial Household Agency grand steward who served in the position for ten years beginning in 1978, the late Tomita Tomohiki (富田朝彦 d. Nov. 2003), kept a record of statements made by the emperor. (English: Asahi, Mainichi, NYT, Yomiuri I II, III, BBC Japanese: Asahi I, II, III, IV, V, VI, Mainichi: I, II Yomiuri: I, Sankei: I ) In one of Tomita’s recorded memos from April 28th, 1988, the emperor is quoted as saying, among other things, that:

“Class-A war criminals have been enshrined. Even Matsuoka and Shiratori (have been enshrined). I’ve heard that Tsukuba dealt cautiously with the matter, but …” (Mainichi trans.)

「私は 或(あ)る時に、A級(戦犯)が合祀され その上 松岡、白取(原文のまま)までもが 筑波は慎重に対処してくれたと聞いたが」

“That’s why I haven’t paid a visit to the shrine since then. That’s my belief.” (Mainichi)

「だから私あれ以来、参拝していない、それが私の心だ」

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