I am in Tokyo and it is snowing and cold. I am an Okinawan softy but off I go for a tramp to have a look at the Yasukuni Shrine. It is not far from my hotel. This is the place that, when visited by a Japanese Prime Minister , becomes the center of diplomatic storm. As usual I have no idea what is going on, but I think people er think that Japan should not honor its war dead because some of them got up to no good and also they lost.
Luckily the country in which I was born was on the winning side and as a boy and youth I engaged in a lot of honoring our war dead, usually in November. Our Queen and all politicians, like everyone did so. In fact not doing so was unthinkable.
Here is a video.
There is a museum at the shrine that I found very moving. The story of Japanese warfare is explained from medieval days, through military stagnation, Western incursion, through Russo-Japanese war, First World War during which the Japanese were on the allied side and indeed sent a fleet to the Mediterranean, which I did not know. There are a couple of rooms on the wars in China in the 1930s, which clearly have more significance to Japan’s entry to the Second World War than I can understand.
Anyway, you finally get to rooms on the Great East Asian War. Basically after a great first half the Japanese get smashed. Smashed big time. The losses in the armed forces are horrendous, Okinawa is grotesque, the destruction of Japanese cities is on a different scale to Coventry, then the atomic bombs. The Japanese had a really bad time. The walls of the last rooms of the exhibit are covered with thousands of little passport photos of men who died in the war. It is awful. Many people are openly weeping and I also feel close to blubbering.
Another video from outside the museum.
“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Ah, but major respect to Kasai – what a boy