This morning I apparently posted in the single nanosecond between Prime Minister Koizumi’s paying of respects at the Yasukuni Shrine and the resulting Asiawide condemnation (both links are to the Mainichi):
Critics, especially in China and the Koreas, say that the shrine glorifies Japanese militarism, but Koizumi says that he is only mourning the country’s war dead.
China in particular has taken a hard line with regard to Koizumi’s Yasukuni visits, halting all meetings between the heads of government in both countries since he began attending the shrine.
Koizumi had said he would visit the shrine to attend its autumn festival, which runs from Monday to Friday.
What Koizumi is thinking when at the shrine is an open question. Whether the shrine glorifies Japanese militarism is somewhat easier to assess. The Asahi has a quotation from a PRC official I hadn’t seen elsewhere:
“The Chinese government will staunchly oppose Prime Minister Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine where the Class-A war criminals are enshrined–regardless of how the visits are made,” said Wang Yi, the Chinese ambassador to Japan. “The fact that the prime minister has done such a thing on the day when the Shenzhou 6 made a successful return to Earth is a challenge to all Chinese people. The prime minister should accept historical responsibility for destroying China-Japan relations.”
South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Shotaro Oshima in Seoul. Ban said the South Korean government felt “deep regret and disappointment” over Koizumi’s actions.The leaders of China and South Korea have repeatedly called on Koizumi to refrain from visiting Yasukuni this year, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
I’m not entirely sure what the Shenzhou 6 has to do with anything. Japan has a history of botched rocket launches, but the ambassador doesn’t seem to be getting in even a veiled dig about that.
What’s likely to happen is that Korea will do its grit-its-teeth-and-bear-it thing, and China will do its still-no-official-head-of-state-visits thing while continuing to try to use Japan as a target for domestic restlessness that’s actually at least partially directed at the CCP. Today’s visit didn’t happen at a moment that was any more strategic than any other of late–there’s no specific tricky development in the dispute over oil and gas deposits in the East China Sea, say, or trade relations. But as always, today’s visit will be a convenient thing to bring out later as an indication that Japan cannot be trusted to have dealt with its misdeeds during the occupation of Asia.