Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to a shrine memorializing Japan’s war dead have sparked protests from the Chinese and South Korean governments who accuse the Japanese of whitewashing history.
The Yakusuni shrine was built in 1869 and houses the spirits of some 2.5 million war dead. Among the war dead are those that carried out the occupation of China and Korea by Japan as well as 14 convicted war criminals from WWII. The Chinese and Koreans say by enshrining these soldiers the government is in essence condoning their actions and ignoring the suffering of those under the various occupations.
The U.S. has been silent on this issue to date despite the fact that one exhibit at the shrine says that America forced Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor. Why would we do that? Because we wanted to shake off the Depression and that our economy made a complete recovery after we entered the war. A granddaughter of the prime minister during the war, Tojo, even goes as far as to say “It was a war of self defense. Nothing like defending the family to the bitter end.
In the U.S. our history has been subjected to far too much revisionism. The efforts by the Chinese and Koreans is targeted at doing the same thing. So far Japan has resisted going the politically correct route. Yet it may eventually have to alter it’s history books if their Asian neighbors manage to exert enough economic pressure.