井の中の蛙

8/6/2006

More Yasukuni News

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 8:42 am

In a recent posting I summarized some recent developments related to the Yasukuni shrine issue in Japan. In addition to a steady stream of articles in the Japanese media about whether or not Koizumi or the most likely future Prime Minister Abe Shinzô will be visiting the shrine, etc. there has also been several new discoveries related to the history of the shrine.

1. Yutaka Shuichi and a friend of mine, Miyaji Yu wrote an article on Asahi’s scoop related to two 1956 documents discussing government policies towards the shrine. Their article shows that as late as 1956 the central government was considering a reversion to the prewar practice of choosing who to memorialize—the postwar constitution notwithstanding. The documents help clarify, at the very least, what kinds of cooperation between the government and the shrine were being considered.

Though a lot remains unclear about the inner workings of this process at the time, the article notes that the following year, 1957 (two years after the consolidation of the right and the formation of the LDP we might note) 470,000 names were memorialized in contrast to the decade since 1945 when only twice did the number exceed 100,000.

2. This Japan Times article claims that a document obtained by the writer Yamanaka Hisashi around 1980 shows that in July of 1944 Tojo Hideki, who was executed for war crimes and later memorialized at Yasukuni in 1978, ordered that ‘only military personnel and civilian military employees whose deaths “resulted directly from military service” should be enshrined at Yasukuni.’ Those who did not die on the battlefield were not to be memorialized. Though this contributes very little to the debate, it does add to the “irony factor” of people like Tojo, who certainly did not die on the battlefield, even if they are seen as “Showa’s martyrs” being memorialized at the shrine.

3. Since the memo regarding the emperor’s opposition to the enshrinement of war criminals came out, a former Yasukuni Shrine official Baba Hisao has made some interesting comments that are quoted in this Japan Times article (Free registration required). He claims that he remembers that during the period when Yasukuni was considering the enshrinement of the war criminals, there was opposition from the Imperial Household Agency and the shrine officials were told that the Emperor would stop visiting the shrine if the war criminals were included. The article also briefly discusses the question of whether visiting the shrine can every only be interpreted as going to “mourn” or includes, as has been the practice up to the end of the war, an “honoring” of the enshrined souls of the shrine.

Eloquent oddities

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:46 am

There aren’t a lot of good Japanese-themed quizzes out there….

You Are a Sarariiman!
Or “salaryman.” Whatever. Treadmill off, treadmill on. Most of the sleep you get is on Tokyo’s extensive subway system, since you are putting in 14 hour days. You’re a workaholic who works hard for no overtime. And vacations? Forget about it. You spend most of your trip hunting around for gifts to bring back all of your coworkers.
What’s Your Japanese Subculture?

Moving the other direction, from English to Japanese, a friend sent along this link to a collection of Jabberwocky translations. It’s been a long time since I could summon the mental energy to disagree with someone about their translation of nonsense verse, but apparently there’s a lot of views on the subject, all represented here. Quite a few of the translators appear to be relying on the Gardiner annotations, is all I’ll say, which is … a choice.

Though WWII remains unsettled between Japan and Russia, The Russo-Japanese War has finally ended for Japan and Montenegro.

Finally, in art news, three times. First, an interesting discussion of private art museums in Tokyo illustrates the power of individual collectors and non-canonical thinking. Second, though I can’t possibly get there for the exhibit, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Art of History is a lovely online experience, though I have mixed feelings about the “elegant mash-up” postmodern elements of the art itself. Some of it (including the Hirohito image) is chilling; others (e.g. Henry’s wives) are barely clever. Finally, Ansel Adams’ pictures of Japanese internment camps in the US are available online, fantastic documentation, not to mention photographs.

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