Koizumi visited the Yasukuni Shrine today. I didn’t have my camera when I passed by the Shrine this morning, but the main avenue leading to the Shrine was lined with blue-and-white police vans and police cars, and the area was surrounded with police in combat gear.

What does Koizumi think he will accomplish by visiting the Shrine when Japan’s neighbours are so sensitive to the past? The wounds of War remain unhealed.

Please don’t tell us that you are doing this as a private citizen. Do you take us for fools? As Prime Minister, you represent the Japanese people and whatever you do, you are above all, a Prime Minister. What private citizen has a contingent of police vans and police force accompanying him? If there is a conflict of interests between your role as Prime Minister and your wishes as private citizen, then you should think of alternative ways to express your patriotism that does not compromise your more obligatory function. Assuming you are aware of this, therefore the “I-am-here-as-a-private-citizen” is a very poor excuse.

And what date is it today, Mr Prime Minister? On this day, October 17 in 1978, fourteen Class A war criminals were enshrined at Yasukuni. Why did you choose to visit the Shrine today?

For the Japanese who are not against these visits, you are ignorant of the atrocities committed by your country during the War. I do not see how you can be proud of that and to express it by honouring the war criminals at the Shrine.

We see you are not afraid of the reaction from the people of Korea, China and other nations. So if you speak for the Japanese people with these visits, then you must understand when Japan’s neighbours see this as a provocation and lash out at Japanese people or Japanese corporations.

Koizumi is asking for trouble by visiting the Shrine. What he has done is a diplomatic blunder. I am surprised by his total lack of foresight and total lack of sensitivity for those who suffered during the War.
Japan’s Sins of the Past, by Justin McCurry: The reign of terror was the work of the notorious Unit 731, a secret arm of the Japanese army based near Harbin, north-east China, which since 1935 had combined expertise and unspeakable cruelty to develop biological weapons to help pave the Japanese army’s way into strategically important areas of south-east China.

Between 1939 and 1945, the unit is thought to have killed, maimed or poisoned more than a million mainly Chinese, Russian and Korean civilians by contaminating their water supply and showering towns and villages with pathogens such as the bubonic plague.

By 1942, the plague and other killer diseases had spread to several locations along the Zhejiang-Jiangxi railway. The Japanese showered seven pathogens on the province in what is thought to have been retaliation for the “Doolittle” air raids on Tokyo by US bombers.

In addition to the plague, the area was infected with typhoid, typhus, dysentery, cholera, para-typhus and anthrax.

Yet its work was to remain secret for years. The unit’s activities were referred to just once at the Tokyo war crimes trials. Rather than prosecute the unit’s senior members, the US occupation authorities in Japan granted them immunity in exchange for access to years of extensive research into biological weapons.

Wikipedia | Yasukuni Shrine: About 1,000 POWs executed for war crimes during World War II are enshrined here. This was not a political issue back then as Yasukuni was supposed to enshrine all Japanese war casualties. However, on October 17, 1978, 14 Class A war criminals (according to the judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East), including Hideki Tojo, were quietly enshrined [here] as “Martyrs of Shōwa.”

Japanese PM Visits Tokyo War Shrine
updates:

Young Ultranationalists Take to Blogging: “A lot of people are agitated, saying that any rightward leanings by young people are superficial, and that those who think Koizumi’s stance (re Yasukuni) is righteous, fail to understand the historical realities,” says an educator. “In the despair stemming from the present low-growth society, where many young people have difficulty in obtaining a grasp of which direction they’re headed, there’s a trend toward a ‘herd instinct,’ where more people gravitate to the same behavior as a way to relieve their anxieties. Nationalistic behavior and the support for Koizumi might both be considered examples of this phenomenon.”