JAPAN: PM to visit Yasakuni war dead shrine


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-29-2001

UA-29-2001 – PM to visit Yasakuni war dead shrine

JAPAN: Glorification of war criminals and past imperialism


The Japanese Prime Minister, Koizumi Junichiro, has vowed to visit to the Yasakuni Shrine – which is dedicated to Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals – this Wednesday, August 15, which is the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the Second World War. This comes amidst the furore created by the decision of Mr. Koizumi to back the controversial new history text-book that glosses over the wartime atrocities committed by the Japanese during the 1910-1945 Korean occupation, the 1937 Nanjing massacre in China and crimes such as the use of 100,000 ‘comfort women’ as forced sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Following is a letter to Mr. Koizumi from Bishop Goro Matsuura (head of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace) and the leaders of 13 other Christian churches/associations in Japan. The letter is entitled: \”WE REQUEST THAT YOU CALL OFF YOUR PLANNED VISIT TO YASUKUNI SHRINE ON AUGUST 15,\” and follows a previous \”Declaration of Opposition to the Visit to Yasukuni Shrine,\” issued by the Bishop on 29 June.


Please read the ecumenical letter below. We are requesting you to send your own protest letter to the Japanese Prime Minister to urge him to abandon his planned war shrine visit, as such a visit – along with the introduction of history-distorting textbooks – would send a clear message that his government is ready to abandon 50 years of work towards reconciliation with other Asian nations. You can do this by going to the following website:


Alternatively, you may take up our previous suggestion to consider organising some kind of action on August 15 at your Japanese embassy to help the Japanese government remember the history they are trying to deny; or write to Mr. Koizumi directly:

Prime Min. Mr. Koizumi Junichiro,

1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN,100-8914

TEL: +813-3581-2361

FAX: +813-3581-3883


August 10, 2001

Mr. Junichiro Koizumi

Prime Minister


Dear Prime Minister Koizumi:

We understand that you are busy with state affairs these days.

On behalf of Christian world in Japan, we request that you not pay an official visit to the Religious Corporate, Yasukuni Shrine on August 15. Yasukuni Shrine was protected by the nation as State Shinto until the end of the Asia Pacific War and served as the spiritual foundation for the Emperor’s military forces sent to invade the countries in Asia and Pacific; Yasukuni enshrined war dead as ‘spirits’ for their devotion to the Emperor. The State, on the basis of State Shinto, forced not only Japanese people but also other people in Asia to bow towards the Imperial Palace and worship at Shinto shrines, depriving them of their rights of freedom of religion and conscience. Reflecting deeply upon this past history, it was Article 20 of the Constitution, which stipulated the separation of religion and the state, ensured freedom of religion, and prohibited the interference or the protection of any particular religion by the state. The Article 89 also prohibits the use of public money for a religious institution.

Whatever the reasons and feelings may be for visiting the Shrine, if you, a high political leader of the nation, pay a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, it will definitely be an act of political interference in a particular religion (Religious Corporate, Yasukuni Shrine) and an act of violation against freedom of other religions including Christianity. We adamantly believe that your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine is a critical issue that relates to our freedom of religion. We also fear, taking this opportunity, that voices to uphold the Yasukuni Shrine by the State will increase more and will continue to gain more momentum. There have been strong voices of protest raised against your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine from neighboring countries such as China and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) which suffered greatly during the war. It is said that the person who slapped will easily forget what he did but the person who was slapped will never forget the pain. The relationship between Japan and Asia will exactly apply to this proverb.

Your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrined those who were responsible to promote the war of invasion into Asia, will result in slapping again people in Asia. \”The Prime Minister respects Japanese Constitution and owes a duty to defend the constitution \” (Article 99). We believe that you should not pay a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, in order for Japan to gain trust as a peace loving country from other Asian countries. We sincerely request that you give up the idea of paying a visit to Yasukuni Shrine.


BP. Goro Matsuura (Bishop in charge, Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace)

Rev. Tadashi Tsutada (President, Japan Evangelical Association)

Ms. Reiko Suzuki (Moderator, National Christian Council in Japan)

Rev. Seishi Ojima (Moderator, United Church of Christ in Japan)

Rev. Junichiro Furumoto (Primate, Anglican Church of Japan)

Rev. Jun Koizumi (President, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church)

Rev. Eiji Ando (President, Japan Baptist Convention)

Rev. Kunihiko Amano (President, Japan Baptist Union)

Rev. Kim Duk-Hwa (Moderator, Korean Christian Church in Japan)

Rev. Yoshinobu Kubo (Moderator, Church of Christ in Japan)

Rev. Shizuo Ono (Moderator, Reformed Church in Japan)

Ms. Keiko Aoki (President, National YWCA of Japan)

Ms. Kikue Takahashi (President, Japan Women’s Temperance Union)

Dr. Kenji Hara (Chairman, Executive Committee, Japan Christian Medical


Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-29-2001
Countries : Japan,