10/30/2014, 00.00
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Tokyo, the families of Yasukuni war victims: remove criminals from the sanctuary

The site is one of the "hot spots" of Asian geopolitics. Among the 2.5 million Japanese war dead honored in the temple is the names of 14 war criminals who have committed atrocities in China and Korea. Prime Minister Abe has always gone there, while the emperor has never gone.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Members of an influential group that represents families of Japanese war dead are asking managers of the Yasukuni shrine to remove the names of 14 war criminals from the list of the fallen commemorated in the temple. The inclusion of these officers - who committed crimes against humanity during World War II - has made the sanctuary one of the "hot spots" of Asian geopolitics. The Chinese government, for example, has always reacted angrily to visits by Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni. Beijing sees any homage paid to the occupiers as "a hostile act".

According to the Association, which has overwhelmingly approved the motion presented by a chapter of war bereaved, changes were necessary "for the emperor and the empress, the prime minister and all Japanese people to visit the Yasukuni Shrine without any discomfort". Yasukuni commemorates about 2.5 million people who have died.

Japanese nationalists, who have become increasingly influential in national politics in recent years consider the shrine, "one of the many war memorials." The same Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, considered a "hawk", has repeatedly visited the place. For historians, however, the Yasukuni "is not a common place. And it has been proven that the addition of the 14 indicted names - including the then Prime Minister and General Hideki Tojo - took place in secret." Because of this, the current Emperor Akihito has never paid homage to the victims commemorated there.

The issue is likely to trigger a wider debate in the country and in neighboring countries. At Abe's  last visit to Yasukuni in 2013, even the United States (historical allies of Tokyo) distanced themselves from the government. And this is also why the Prime Minister has never met the Chinese leader Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye since coming to office two years ago. Both China and Korea were occupied by Japan in the years before the Second World War.


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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”