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Yasukuni issue

Why on all days did Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visit the disputed Yasukuni Temple again this week?

Monday this week it happened again: For the fifth time since coming to power in 2001, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the much-contested Yasukuni Temple in Tokyo.

And this despite the fact that a court in Osaka no later than a few weeks ago issued a ruling that Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni is contrary to the constitution's distinction between religion and state.

As expected, it led to immediate protests from China and South Korea, which in strong terms characterized the visit to Yasukuni as a "serious provocation" and "a diplomatic disaster".

Yasukuni is a symbol of Japan's aggressive militarism before and during World War II, neighboring countries believe, pointing out that the temple honors the memory of 2,5 million Japanese soldiers who died in war, including 14 who were convicted of war crimes in 1948.

"The Yasukuni problem," the Japanese themselves call this inflamed issue. And it has its origins in the time when the emperor was the son of the sun goddess and Shintoism was the country's state religion.

Yasukuni is the temple where the "heroic souls" – all in the military complex who lost their lives in modern Japanese wars – are remembered and honored.

In the period from the Sino-Japanese War to the Second World War, it was the noblest a soldier imagined to die fighting for his emperor, being divinized in Yasukuni and receiving visits from the emperor.

However, a US-enforced constitution forced through a separation between religion and state after the war. Accordingly, Yasukuni lost its state status. Since then, strong forces have sought to restore the temple under state protection.

Strong opposition among Japanese in the 1970s torpedoed the increase in achieving this through legislative changes. Instead, the political leadership aimed to draw Yasukuni back into the heat through official visits to the temple.

It was not until 1985 that Yasuhiro Nakasone took the chance and became the first post-war prime minister to pay an official visit to the temple. It sounded loud. . .

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