Yasukuni in the news

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will perhaps be best remembered abroad for his visits to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo. The editor of JIIA Commentary, the online publication from a think-tank affiliated with Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writes that Japan is out of practice of thinking about international politics. Will Japan's next leader be more careful:

Since assuming office in 2001, Koizumi has not wavered in his promise to make an annual visit to Yasukuni, a Shinto shrine in central Tokyo where the spirits of modern Japan's war dead are enshrined. His predecessors had trodden with caution around the issue of Yasukuni, for among the 2.5 million spirits enshrined are those of 14 judged to be war criminals by the allied powers following the Second World War. Beijing's point of contention is the 14, and Yasukuni has become the central issue symbolizing Sino-Japanese friction.

Masaru Tamamoto also notes that the major national dailies - Yomiuri, Nikkei, Mainichi, and Asahi - have come to take a critical stance against the Yasukuni visits; Sankei newspaper is the exception.

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