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'Prime minister, Cabinet must not worship at shrine'

China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-19 07:51

Q&A | Tetsuya Takahashi

Editor's Note: China Daily's Tokyo bureau chief Cai Hong interviews Tetsuya Takahashi, a professor with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Tokyo University, on the history of the Yasukuni Shrine's usage, and the challenge it presents not only to Japanese diplomacy but also to those Japanese who object to state-sponsored mourning of those killed in war.

Q: You said Japan was on a right-wing shift when Junichiro Koizumi was in office. How about today?

A: Japan is rapidly tilting towards the right. During the Koizumi administration, Japan's general public was unaware of the Yasukuni issue. Opinion polls found that many cared about Japan's relations with China and South Korea. Today, a lot of people are considering the visits by Japanese Cabinet members to the Yasukuni as a sovereignty issue. The Abe Cabinet, with more right-wing members, is more conservative than the Koizumi administration.

Why do you think that Japan cannot build truly friendly relations with China and South Korea, if the Yasukuni issue is unresolved?

Japan's conservative politicians have been worshipping at Yasukuni, a place that enshrines Class-A war criminals. If they keep visiting, Japan's historical perspective concerning wars and aggression contrasts with those of China and South Korea. The two countries will not trust Japan, the three nations will struggle to build trustworthy ties in East Asia, and if the Yasukuni problem is not removed, Japan cannot build truly friendly relations with China and South Korea.

Is there a political solution?

The simplest solution is for Japanese politicians to shun Yasukuni. Cabinet members, headed by Japan's prime minister, should not worship at the shrine. If the prime minister announces that his Cabinet will not visit Yasukuni, the issue would be under control.

What war responsibility do you think Japan should shoulder?

In his 1995 statement, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama admitted Japan's colonial rule over and aggression in some Asian countries and regions. When the Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed by some of the Allied powers without China's presence in San Francisco in 1951, Japan accepted the verdicts of the Tokyo Trials.

Japan is responsible for the tremendous damage and suffering it caused to Asian countries through its colonial rule and aggression. Japan should acknowledge its fault and compensate accordingly. Japan should pledge not to wage war again.

China Daily

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