Akahata on May 27 carried an article entitled "Yasukuni Shrine's view of history and the United States." It reveals how absurd it is for the shrine to shift the blame for the Japanese war of aggression in Asia onto the United States. The following is the translation of the article:
The Yasukuni Shrine issue immediately brings up the question of Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors, including China, and North and South Korea. But from "Yasukuni's View of History" which glorifies Japan's past wars, it is not Asian nations alone that bear the brunt of its attack but all the countries that fought with Japan, or the anti-fascist Allied countries as a whole, including the United States.
Japan, since the opening of the country to the world in the Meiji era, tried to avoid being colonized by the Western powers and to develop national power equal to theirs. Japan exercised extreme patience against pressure from the United States and Great Britain, countries that began to treat Japan as a nuisance, as well as against China's fierce anti-Japanese campaigns.
Let me quote further:
But never could we accept the U.S. hard-line demands aimed at suffocating the Japanese nation.
Some say: We were not without means to avoid the war. For example, we could have given up all vested interests, and returned to the Japan of before the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). But it would have meant losing the war without fighting.
Japan, a small country in the Far East, stood up against the great powers and entered the Greater East Asia War. With the survival of the country and nation at stake, our 100 million people fought with heroic resolve. This was a war for survival and self-defense.
This is not a radio commentary under military control during the war. This is part of the narration of the documentary, "We shall never forget," shown now every day in a room at the war memorial museum, Yushukan, located within Yasukuni Shrine. This is their explanation of why the Japan-U.S. War started. This film was produced by the Japan Conference and the Association for Honoring Fallen Heroes, under the sponsorship of Yasukuni Shrine.
So, the United States was the main culprit, the one that started the Pacific War and caused a great scourge to Asia and the Pacific region?such propaganda is being repeated at Yasukuni Shrine every day.
Yushukan is a museum built by Yasukuni Shrine for the purpose of propagating "Yasukuni's View of History." It recently underwent a major renovation with the addition of a new building. It has 20 rooms depicting the history of Japanese wars starting with the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the war of aggression against China, and the Pacific War. The exhibits show no trace of self-reflection whatsoever on Japan's wars of aggression and its colonial rule over other countries.
All the wars are depicted as being for Japan's "survival and self-defense" as well as for "liberating" Asian nations from the Western powers. The word "aggression" never appears in the museum texts. The exhibition instead describes the war in such ways as the "Manchuria Incident" or the "Greater East Asia War," terms which were used by the Japanese government and military to misrepresent the reality of the wars of aggression.
The Yushukan exhibition puts a great emphasis on the "Greater East Asia War." Five rooms are devoted to it. The first room exhibits items that explain the affairs that led Japan to declare war. Believe it or not, the theme given to the room is "An avoidable war."
In explaining the affairs that led to the outbreak of the war, the text states: U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt sought to compel Japan to declare war in hopes to get out of the great depression as well as to overcome the anti-war sentiments in the U.S. public that had hampered the United States going to war with Germany.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt first took office, the U.S. was in the throes of the Great Depression; the economy still had not recovered when his third term began. Early on, Roosevelt had anticipated a major conflict. In 1939, he had resolved to join Great Britain in the war against Germany, but was hampered by American public opinion, which was strongly antiwar. The only option open to Roosevelt, who had been moving forward with his "Plan Victory,'"was to use embargoes to force resource-poor Japan into war. The U.S. economy made a complete recovery once the Americans entered the war." (Yushukan exhibition)
It is from this viewpoint that the Yushukan exhibition gives a lot of space to the "Japan-U.S. negotiations." But the true intention of "Yasukuni's View of History" is better illustrated in the narration of the film "We shall never forget."
The Japan-U.S. negotiations began in April 1941. In narrating the course of the talks, the film claims that Japan was trying hard to avoid war while the United States was merely trying to gain time to prepare war with Japan.
According to this interpretation, what finally triggered the outbreak of war was a U.S. conspiracy to force Japan into it.
U.S. President Roosevelt was contemplating how to make Japan strike first. It was also what British Prime Minister Churchill had requested.
On November 27, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull (representing the United States at the Japan-U.S. negotiations) made an official reply. This is the fateful Hull Note.
It was a hard-line document, demanding that Japan remove all its troops from China and French Indochina, withdraw from the Tripartite Pact between itself, Germany and Italy, and not recognize any government in China other than Chiang Kaishek's.
The Hull Note rendered the Japanese government hopeless. We had huge interests in China and many fellow countrymen lived there. We could not leave them by withdrawing our armed forces and police. Especially in Manchuria, we had legitimate interests hard-earned through the sacrifices of many soldiers and officers in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars. We could absolutely not abandon these interests.
In short, this narration is intended to show that Japan wanted the United States to recognize its right to invade and dominate China and ensure that Japan can receive oil and other military supplies that are necessary to prosecute war; the United States, however, demanded that Japan stop the invasion and withdraw from China; this "outrageous" demand was made with a view to compelling Japan to start a war. All this was part of a U.S. plot "to make Japan strike first." This is the explanation according to "Yasukuni's View of History" for the "outbreak of war between Japan and the United States."
This argument is nothing but a rehash of Japanese imperialists' insistence that Japan was historically "entitled" to invade and dominate China.
This illustrates how obsessed the advocates of "Yasukuni's View of History" are even today with Japan's prewar expansionism and continue to have a grudge against the Chinese resistance struggle that got in its way as well as the international forces that aided the Chinese struggle.
These are the "truths" of the war which Yasukuni Shrine tries to disseminate among the Japanese people through all its publicity materials.
According to "Yasukuni's View of History," this war was an "unavoidable one" both for the Japanese people and for the other Asian peoples. Japan had "justice" on its side in marching off to war, and the countries that fought against it, whether it was China or the United States or Great Britain, were unfair and unjust forces that resisted this "justice." "Yasukuni's View of History" directs its spearhead not only at the Asian countries invaded by Japan like China, but also at the entire anti-fascist coalition that fought against the aggressor camp of fascism and militarism made up of Japan, Germany and Italy.
From this point of view, Yasukuni Shrine regards the war dead in this "unavoidable war" as heroes who dedicated their lives to a just and righteous war and honors their "brilliant achievements in war." This is the unique role played by Yasukuni Shrine.
Its view on wars is in contravention to the verdict given by the international community to the Japanese wars. Moreover, this Shrine declares that their "mission" is to propagate its view on wars among the Japanese public.
Japanese Communist Party Central Committee Chair Fuwa Tetsuzo, in his speech on May 12, characterized Yasukuni Shrine as an "institution engaged in a movement" to disseminate the argument that the "Japan fought just and righteous wars" and added that the spirit underlying it could be compared to that of neo-Nazism in Europe.
In saying this, Fuwa rightly pointed out that this "Shrine" is playing a special role that goes beyond being a mere religious institution.
Prime Minister Koizumi is trying to justify his visits to Yasukuni Shrine by repeating his remarks that he has no intention to do anything other than to "mourn the war dead." But Yasukuni Shrine glorifies the past wars of aggression as its very mission. Is choosing this Shrine as a place to mourn the large number of war dead and victims compatible with his words of remorse over the "past colonial rule and aggression"?
Given the words of "remorse" Prime Minister Koizumi has uttered as the head of government representing Japan, isn't the question above exactly what he should consider seriously in making an "appropriate judgment"?
- Akahata, May 27, 2005