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Japanese Foreign Minister Opposes Separate Services for A-class War Criminals at Yasukuni Shrine

Japanese Foreign Minister Opposes Separate Services for A-class War Criminals at Yasukuni Shrine

Posted October. 05, 2004 21:50,   


Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, who became the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan during a Cabinet reshuffling last month, is being credited with stringent comments about issues related to Japan-North Korea relations day after day.

Machimura appeared on a debate program on Asahi TV on October 3 and made clear his position about his opposition to performing separate services for A-class war criminals enshrined together in the Yasukuni Shrine. He insisted, “It would not be a problem if the shrine itself was voluntarily willing to perform the services, but political powers asking them to perform separate services for A-class war criminals is an intervention of power and politics upon religious freedom.”

Performing separate services for A-class war criminals was a plan that the Japanese government considered as a compromise in response to Korean and Chinese protests over Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Yasukuni shrine. The new foreign minister’s opposition can be interpreted as a statement that he won’t pay attention to the criticism of neighboring countries.

He also has experience in actively defending Koizumi’s previous visits to Yasukuni shrine by saying, “It is most proper to mourn for people who were sacrificed for the nation,” right after his appointment.

Machimura also said, “Japan should make clear that it can also play a trump card if North Korea does not fulfill certain conditions,” as Korea-Japan working level consultations for solving the Japanese abduction issue ended with no accomplishments, raising the issue about applying economic sanctions against North Korea. The Japanese media said, “Despite how this comment may appeal to the general public’s sentiment, it does not go along with the basic politics of the present government, which is pushing for diplomatic normalization with North Korea,” concerned that this might evoke confusion.

Machimura, who has held various posts in succession such as Education, Science and Technology minister, is an individual who has shown an inclination towards the right wing by taking an active part as a member of the “Meeting of Assemblymen For Visiting the Yasukuni Shrine Together.” Diplomatic officials of Tokyo are saying that he may be leaning towards the extreme in fear of his political ground being weakened, as former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and former Vice President of the United Liberal Democrats Taku Yamasaki were nominated as the prime minister’s assistants. The Nihon Geizai Shimbun reported, “There is a fear within this aggressive comment of the new foreign minister that he might be deprived of his diplomatic initiative against the prime minister’s official residence.”

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com