One of the main points of contention in the whole Yasukuni Shrine flap has been whether Koizumi (among other high-level government officials) is making his pilgrimages in his capacity as a public servant or as a private citizen. It matters, naturally, because the separation of church and state argument doesn’t wash at all if he and his cabinet are just tradition-minded Japanese paying their respects. The latest development internal to Japan is that a court in Chiba has ruled that the visits are, in fact, official.
Reasonable enough. Also reasonable was this part (lower two paragraphs):
A court here Thursday ruled that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine in 2001 in his official capacity, but it skirted the issue of whether the trip violated the constitutional separation of the state and religion.
The Chiba District Court also rejected a compensation claim from 63 plaintiffs who demanded the state and the prime minister pay 100,000 yen to each member for inflicting mental pain from the Aug. 13, 2001, visit.
The plaintiffs, including Christian and Buddhist priests, had argued Koizumi’s homage to the Shinto shrine was an act to give privileges to a specific religion, thereby violating the Constitution as well as their rights.
America has many wonderful things to give to the world. Surely something we might consider keeping to ourselves until it mercifully dies off, however, is the habit of deeming any collision with an opposing idea “mental pain,” which is a violation of one’s “rights.” There is nothing I am aware of to prevent Christian and Buddhist Japanese from performing their own kinds of prayers unobtrusively at the memorial, or from setting up their own memorial on dedicated ground of their own. The legitimate issues surrounding the Japanese government’s treatment of its World War II conduct, which still has a major influence on its relationships with its neighbors, are only obscured by these shenanigans. And that’s unfortunate, because they really need dealing with.
26 November 15:25 EST