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U.S. Lawmaker Condemns Japanese Visits to Yasukuni Shrine

U.S. Lawmaker Condemns Japanese Visits to Yasukuni Shrine

Posted October. 24, 2005 03:03,   


Henry Hyde, the U.S. House International Relations Committee Chairman, wrote a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, condemning his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. He has been a critic when it comes to the North Korean nuclear crisis and the U.S.-Korea alliance, and conveyed his message through letters.

In a letter to Ryozo Kato, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., on October 20, Hyde wrote, “The Yasukuni Shrine is also dedicated to war criminals in World War II. I feel uncomfortable with Japanese government officials paying repeated visits to the shrine.”

In the letter, Hyde declared that the Yasukuni Shrine has become a “symbol of unresolved disputes over the war atrocities during the World War II and of militarism demonstrated in the Pacific War (as the spirits of war criminals are, too, worshiped at the shrine).” The shrine honors 14 Class A and around 1,000 Class B and C war criminals.

Hyde’s letter is a second reminder of the Japanese government’s failure to put its own history into the right perspective. The first reminder came when the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution in July to commemorate the country’s victory over Japan.

Unlike Congress, the U.S. government has maintained its neutrality over historical disputes between South Korea and Japan, two allies of the U.S. The administration’s position has been so neutral that it was unusual when John Thomas Schieffer, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, in an interview with a Japanese paper on October 20, somewhat tentatively said, “It (high-profile figures’ visits to Yasukuni) worries Korea and China to a great extent.”

In his letter, Chairman Hyde underscored the legitimacy of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials set up by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in which Hideki Tojo, former Japanese prime minister, was found guilty of war crimes. He mentioned the trials, saying, “Just as the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the Tokyo trials, too, were not only for winners of the war.”

By mentioning the Nuremberg trials, Rep. Hyde must have intended to highlight the contrast between Germans and the Japanese. While Germans accepted the Nuremberg ruling, displaying maturity, some right wing figures in Japan refuse to accept the ruling. They say the trials were carried out only by the authority of being winners of World War II.

Chairman Henry Hyde is a 16th-term congressman from Illinois. From 1944 to 45, he served in combat in the Philippines under General Douglas MacArthur.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com