Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006
Yasukuni gripes still dog nation
Voices from group of war dead kin want Class-A 14 out
Kishimoto, one of 12 executives, wants the Shinto shrine dedicated to the nation's 2.47 war dead to strike the 14 names from its roster, hoping the moves helps mend Japan's strained relations with China and South Korea and other parts of Asia over their enshrinemen
The relatives and conservative leaders often cite the argument put forth by academics that because the term "crimes against peace" did not exist in international law before the end of World War II, the Tokyo Trials were unfair and their judgments invalid.
Association executive Kishimoto doesn't think the tribunals were fair, but he and many kin of the war dead want the war criminals off the roster because they want Yasukuni depoliticized so the Emperor and senior government officials can visit before the last members of the generation that lived through the war pass away, he said
The visits to the shrine have garnered support and opposition from the public. In a Yomiuri Shimbun poll released Wednesday, 50 percent of respondents said Koizumi's successor should not visit Yasukuni, while 40 percent said the trips should continue
"They fought purely for the sake of their families and the state they loved."
While that may be true for family members who lost their loved ones and earnestly want to believe they died for a sacred cause rather than a war of conquest, many see this attitude as clear evidence the shrine is continuing to glorify Japan's military aggression
Koizumi has tried to distance himself from Yasukuni's view of history. He has claimed repeatedly that he is just an ordinary person going to Yasukuni to mourn the war dead, and he does not suggest support for Yasukuni's position on the war.
"I think many people visit to mourn the war dead, regardless of what Yasukuni Shrine is thinking," Koizumi told a Lower House Budget Committee on June 12, 2005.
"I don't want you to think my visits to the shrine are an indication that I support the shrine's opinions."
Koizumi said Japan accepted the outcome of the Tokyo tribunals and he "does not intend to say anything about it or oppose it."
"We have accepted the tribunal. We should never wage war again. I recognize those (Class-A war criminals) as war criminals," he said.
Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo (1884-1948)
Tojo was prime minister at the time of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. Later, he served concurrently as army minister, internal affairs minister and chief of the Army General Staff Office. He was held responsible, among other things, for the war Japan waged, for the inhumane treatment of POWs and other atrocities. He was hanged.
Gen. Kenji Doihara (1883-1948)
Known as a China expert, Doihara served as the director of the Military Intelligence Bureau in Mukuden, Machuria. He brought out Puyi, the last emperor of China's Qing dynasty, to install him as the puppet head of Manchukuo. Hanged.
Prime Minister Koki Hirota (1878-1948)
Hirota was the only civilian sentenced to death. He was found guilty of approving the army's advancement into China and the navy's expansion into the Pacific Ocean. He was foreign minister during the the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, which triggered the war in China. Bert Roling, a Dutch judge on the 11-member Tokyo tribunal, said Hirota and three other civilians -- including Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, also enshrined -- convicted as Class-A criminals were innocent.
Gen. Seishiro Itagaki (1885-1948)
Itagaki was a key military planner in the occupation of Manchuria and establishment of the puppet state Manchukuo. He later helped expanded the offensive into China. He was hanged.
Gen. Heitaro Kimura (1888-1948)
The least-known figure among the 14, he became vice army minister in 1941 and commander of the Burma Area Army in 1944. He was hanged.
Lt. Gen. Akira Muto (1892-1948)
Muto strongly advocated expanding the fighting with China after the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident. He was chief of the Military Affairs Bureau at the time of Pearl Harbor. He was hanged.
Gen. Iwane Matsui (1878-1948)
Matsui was commanding officer of the expeditionary force responsible for the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. He was found guilty and hanged for his role in the atrocity.
Prime Minister Gen. Kuniaki Koiso (1880-1950)
Koiso was chief of staff of the Kwantung Army and governor general of Korea before he replaced Tojo as prime minister in 1944. Sentenced to life in prison, he became sick and died.
Prime Minister Kiichiro Hiranuma (1867-1952)
Hiranuma was a prominent rightist. After serving in key judicial posts, he became prime minister in 1939. Sentenced to life, he was paroled in 1951 and died of natural causes.
Ambassador to Italy Toshio Shiratori (1887-1949)
Closely working with Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, Shiratori helped conclude the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in 1940. Sentenced to life, he became sick and died in prison.
Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu (1882-1949)
Umezu was the last chief of the Army General Staff Office, and signed the formal surrender to the Allies on the battleship USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he died of cancer.
Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo (1882-1950)
Togo served as foreign minister twice -- during the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and when Japan surrendered in 1945. He led efforts to accept the Potsdam Declaration and end the war, resisting pressure from the military to continue fighting. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he died of an illness.
Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka (1880-1946)
As chief delegate to the League of Nations, Matsuoka declared Japan's secession from the international body in protest of the league's resolution in 1933 denouncing Japan's turning Manchuria into Manchukuo. As foreign minister, he negotiated the Tripartite Pact in 1940. He died of an illness during his trial.
Adm. Osami Nagano (1880-1947)
Nagano was chief of Naval General Staff Office at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. He died of an illness during his trial.Japan times Aug. 12, 2006