Plunge Pontificates

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Good Primer on Yasukuni and the Yashukan Museum

Not sure that is what the article wanted to be but it is a pretty good primer on Yasukuni and what is taught at the Yashukan museum.

The place that is the symbolic source of the enduring Chinese-Japanese feud is disarmingly serene, awash in cherry blossom petals while merchants at its approaches peddle sake and pastries.

Carp glide in the pool of a garden near the Yasukuni Shrine shaded by the luminous leaves of Japanese maples.

Visitors must wash their hands with ladled water at this memorial to 2.5 million military dead, but China wishes Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi would wash his hands permanently of this austere shrine honouring among its subjects Class-A war criminals.
For those that have never been, it is a serene, gorgeous setting. Too bad what is taught there isn't in harmony with the setting.
At the adjacent Yashukan war museum, a restored Zero fighter rescued from the war rubble of the south Pacific port of Rabaul shares space with a Kaiten, or Japanese single-man mini-sub/human torpedo.

It's also the venue for daily screenings of a video on modern Japanese military history that would surely leave visitors from Beijing in a hot lather.

The film includes footage of Japanese soldiers marching triumphantly into Nanking in 1937 while dutifully omitting any mention of atrocities recalling the Imperial Army's massacre in the city of 300,000 Chinese civilians and PoWs.

The 50-minute production raises questions over whether the Pacific War initiated by Japan was ever a violation of international law.

Japanese military aggression is showcased as altruism devoted to bettering the lot of Asian neighbours fortunate enough to earn the emperor's attention.
It ends with a discussion between the reporter and a Japanese student.
She admits her high school curriculum didn't raise the odious aspects of her country's war past, another sticking point in relations with China. "It's not in our textbooks -- I had to go to the library," she says.

While that curiosity has raised her awareness of Japan's war crimes, Narita said she's torn over whether Koizumi should end his Yasukuni pilgrimage and insists the divide over that issue among her countrymen is strong.

It's a paradox sure to keep Japan mired in a world where what was then, is still now.