Tag Archives: yasukuni

Silly political games again …

16 Aug

Yesterday (2012 August 15), was the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II.

And, as is done every August 15th in Tokyo, some Japanese politicans went to the 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)… which is the shrine in Japan that honors all who died defending Japan in war… to pay tribute.

All who died in Japan’s defense are enshrined there … including those who were found guilty of war crimes by the U.S. war tribunals.

For that reason, many of Japan’s neighboring countries don’t like Yasukuni Shrine … and get upset when Japanese politicans visit it.

But really, the shrine doesn’t exclude war dead based on another country’s war court verdict … in the same way that all of America’s soldiers who die in battle can be buried at Arlington Cemetary, all of Japan’s soldiers are honored at Yasukuni Shrine.

But that isn’t the only political debate neighboring countries have with Japan.
China, Russia and South Korea have border disputes with Japan.

After their victory over the Japanese team at the Olympics,  a player on South Korea’s Olympic soccer team held up a sign declaring that the disputed Takeshima Island is Korean territory.  The Korean team almost lost their medal because of that.
Then, the South Korean president visited the island – – unannounced visits to disputed land by a political leader isn’t probably a wise move.
And then, yesterday … the anniversary of the end of World War II, some Korean men attempted to swim to the island. They didn’t make it there, so Japan didn’t need to take any action … but their attempt made the news.

And then yesterday, a Chinese boat was intercepted by the Japanese Coast Guard as it tried to head to the Senkaku Islands … which is disputed land between Japan and China.
The Chinese people onboard are currently in a Japanese jail. China is demanding that they be freed.

This seems to happen every year at this time.

Advertisements

VJ Day

15 Aug

Today is 「終戦記念日」 (lit. “Anniversary of the end of the war”), or, as it’s referred to in the West, VJ Day.

So today is the 65th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Unfortunately it’s not the anniversary of war completely.

I’m not going to write a lot of this today because last year I wrote a post about the 64th anniversary that included an English translation of part of the Japanese Emperor’s speech to the people of Japan (click here to read it).

And the year before, I wrote a post about the 63rd anniversary that explained a bit about 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) and it’s relevance to this day. (click here to read that post).

This year 「終戦記念日」 (VJ Day) is on a Sunday (today), so I’m sure 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) was crowded today.

**

Also today was the last day of this year’s 「深川八幡祭り」 (Fukagawa Hachiman Festival)…also called the 「水かけ祭り」 (“Water Tossing Festival“) because people watching the festival throw water on the people carrying the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines). Even firefighters hose them down.

Two years ago I participated in this festival by helping to carry a 神輿 (portable shrine).

It was fun…but carrying that heavy thing all day and also tossing it up and catching it many times…my arms and legs were aching the next day!

This festival occurs every August in the 門前仲町 (Monzen-Nakachou) area of Tokyo…but the big main festival only occurs every three years.

When I participated two years ago it was a “big, main festival”…and next year when the big festival is scheduled again, I am invited to join again.

Click here to see photos and videos of this festival from two years ago when I was a member of one of the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines) teams.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

14 Oct

The day before yesterday (Monday, 12 October) was a Japanese holiday…「体育の日」 (“Sports Day“).
Click here to read my short FAQ about it.

Every year on this day, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) has an archery ceremony called 「草鹿式」 (“Kusa-jishi-shiki“).

靖国神社の「草鹿式」

靖国神社の「草鹿式」

My wife and I watched this ceremony last year and I wrote a post about it.

This year, a French couple who visited and commented on my blog many times are in Tokyo until next week.
This is their first visit to Japan, so I met up with them and took them to watch the 「草鹿式」 (archery ceremony) at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

I didn’t take many photos of it this year, but please read my post about last year’s ceremony. On that post, there are photos and videos that I took (click here to read it).

==================================

As I wrote in an earlier post (click here), Tokyo was a candidate city to host the 2016 Olympic Games but lost out to Rio De Janeiro.

Well, it has been announced that Tokyo plans to submit a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games!

But Tokyo isn’t the only Japanese city that wants to host the 2020 games.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki have announced their plan to submit a bid to co-host the 2020 Summer Olympics!

Other cities that have expressed interest in hosting the 2020 games are South Africa, Busan (Korea), Delhi (India), Rome (Italy), St. Petersburg (Russia), Warsaw (Poland), Toronto (Canada), Boston (America), and a number of others.

The candidate cities for the 2020 Olympics will be decided next year and the host city will be chosen in 2013.

==================================

Speaking of 「広島」 (Hiroshima, Japan) and 「長崎」 (Nagasaki, Japan), the city council of Rome, Italy announced their plan to rename a street in their city “Hiroshima Nagasaki Street“!

Their reason is because a 78-year old Japanese man named Hiroshi Nishioka gave a speech in Rome recently that left much of the audience in tears.

Mr. Nishioka is a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. He was only fourteen at the time of the bombing and in his recent speech in Italy he recalled how he refused to share the water in his canteen with any of the dying people in the streets of Nagasaki for fear that he wouldn’t have enough left for himself.

Even now, the memory of that, he said in his speech, is “like a splinter in my heart.”

靖国神社の桜祭り

8 Apr

Today my wife and I went to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is a beautiful shrine in Tokyo that is dedicated to all who have died defending Japan in battle.

Some of the WW2 veterans enshrined at 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) have been classified as war criminals by Allied courts. So, for that reason, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is a controversial place, especially with neighboring Asian countries.

To me, 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) is Japan’s equivalent to America’s Arlington Veterans Cemetery in Washington D.C..
Nothing wrong with honoring those who sacrificed their lives for their country. (I’ve written a few other posts about 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)…click here to read one.)

Anyways, the reason we went to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) was to see the 桜祭り (Cherry Blossom Festival) there.

The (Cherry Blossoms) in Tokyo are close to the end of their short life. They are beginning to fall to the ground. Soon they’ll be gone until next year…so, as we do every year, we’re appreciating them before they’re gone.

Whenever the wind gently blew today, the 桜の花びら (petals of the Cherry Blossom flowers) would fall to the ground. It was like a beautiful pink snowfall!

Here are some of the photos we took today (in many of them, you can see the falling 桜の花びら (petals of the Cherry Blossom flowers)):

Entrance to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)

Entrance to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)

dscf4857

dscf4859

Can you see the falling petals in this photo?

Can you see the falling petals in this photo?

You can see the falling petals in this picture too!

You can see the falling petals in this picture too!

Sakura petals are floating in the lake.

Sakura petals are floating in the lake.

dscf48791

dscf4881

dscf4885

dscf4888

dscf4889

屋台 (Festival food booths)

屋台 (Festival food booth

Entrance to the world-famous 日本武道館 (Nippon-Budokan)

Entrance to the world-famous 日本武道館 (Nippon-Budokan)

dscf4894

Statue of a 19th century Japanese politician 品川弥二郎 (Shinagawa Yajirou)

dscf4896

dscf4899

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.

++++++

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):

++++++

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

[rockyou id=120311129]