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August 15

15 Aug

Today is August 15. 終戦記念日 (Anniversary of the War’s End) in Japan.
In America and other Western countries it’s called “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan Day) and celebrated on August 14 (due to the time difference).
Anyways, on August 15, 1945 (Japan Time) Japan surrendered and the World War 2 ended.

So, every year on August 15, many people go to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) in Tokyo to pay respects to those who died in the war. Among these people are numerous Japanese politicians (including, usually, the Prime Minister of Japan)…this angers Japan’s neighboring countries, because among the war dead enshrined at Yasukuni are the military officers that were found guilty of war crimes by the war trials held in Tokyo by America shortly after the war.

Because Japan colonized much of Asia before and during WW2, and committed war atrocities in those countries. They protest the annual visits to the shrine by the Prime Minister of Japan.

Today, former-Prime Minister Koizumi visited the shrine, as he did when he was the Prime Minister. But the current Prime Minister (Fukuda) didn’t want to upset Japan’s neighbors, so he didn’t go.

It’s a tricky decision for a Prime Minister to make whether to visit Yasukuni on August 15th or not. If he goes, Korea, China and other countries will see it as Japan “glorifying their war-time past” and strongly protest. But if the Prime Minister doesn’t go (as P.M. Fukuda did), then the descendants of those who died fighting for Japan will feel offended.

Speaking of the descendants, Hideki Tojo who was the Prime Minister of Japan during World War 2 was found guilty of war crimes by the war trials held in Tokyo by America shortly after the war and executed.
His grand-daughter, Yuko Tojo believes her grandfather was innocent and the trial was unfair. She also believes that Japan was only defending itself and Asia in general during WW2.
She visits Yasukuni Shrine every year on August 15 and gives a speech to like-minded listeners.

I saw her when I visited 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) on August 15th a few years ago.

I put this post up today not to try to get angry, political responses. I hope noone posts any comments that are rude or insulting toward any nationality.

I’m not saying that the grand-daughter of former Prime Minister Tojo is wrong or right.

There are some right-wing extremists who say shocking things about Japan and other countries (especially on occasions such as V-J Day), but most Japanese people admit that Japan did terrible things during the war (as did other countries) and they want the world to just be a peaceful place.
War is no good. But today’s Japan is quite different from the Japan of over sixty years ago.

Let’s all get along.

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Anyways, let’s change the subject.
Are you watching the 北京オリンピック (Beijing Olympics)?

Right now, China has the most medals.

The top seven countries (as of 2008/8/15):

  1. China – 22 gold medals (35 total)
  2. USA – 13 gold medals (40 total)
  3. Germany – 8 gold medals (13 total)
  4. Korea – 6 gold medals (16 total)
  5. Italy – 6 gold medals (13 total)
  6. Australia – 5 gold medals (18 total)
  7. Japan – 5 gold medals (11 total)

You can see the most up-to-date listing (and all countries) at the Official Beijing Olympic Website. (Click here for the Olympics’ medals page.)

Have you seen the logo for the 北京オリンピック (Beijing Olympics)?

The red mark at the top of the logo is a 印鑑 (name stamp) that is used in lieu of a signature in China and Japan. The white mark inside looks like a man running…but it’s also the second 漢字 (Chinese / Japanese character) in the name of the city 北京 (Beijing (or Pekin, as it’s still called in Japan)).

The character is 「京」 (can your computer show it?) and, if manipulated, resembles a person running…as in the logo above. But I guess only people familiar with the Chinese or Japanese writing system can see the meaning in the logo.

By the way, the name of the Chinese capital, 北京 (Beijing (or Pekin, as it’s still called in Japan)), translates to “Northern Capital“. And the capital of Japan (where I live), 東京 (Tokyo), translates to “Eastern Capital“.

The written characters are often the same in China and Japan…but the pronunciation is usually quite different.

Also, the 東京マラソン (Tokyo Marathon) logo is the character for “big” (looks like: 「大」) arranged to look like a man running also.

Here’s the Tokyo Marathon 2007 logo (it’s the same one every year):

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Here’s another slideshow of some photos I’ve taken at various times and places around Tokyo:


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