THE YASUKUNI SHRINE PROBLEM IN THE EAST ASIAN CONTEXT: RELIGION AND POLITICS IN MODERN JAPAN
The problem of issues surrounding Yasukuni Shrine is one of the main topics in religion and politics in contemporary Japan. This paper tries to approach the Yasukuni Shrine problem, first by contextualizing this problem in the East Asian settings, then by reviewing the recent court cases surrounding Yasukuni Shrine, and finally by commenting on two documentary films focusing on this problem. Examining the reactions by the Chinese government to the visits paid by Japanese politicians since the mid-1970s shows that these visits, to the place where the class A war criminals are enshrined, has been regarded in the Chinese official view as offensive to the victims of the aggressive wars of Japan. The recent court cases targeting mainly the former Prime Minister Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine are worth special attention because they have involved Koreans and Taiwanese besides Japanese as the plaintiffs. These cases have presented constitutional points of dispute for both Japanese and other Asian people. These situations have set the backdrop of the production and screening of the documentary films, Annyong, Sayonara (2005), and Yasukuni (2007). These two films illustrate not only the current problem of Yasukuni Shrine but also the surrounding setting of this problem in East Asia.
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