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PacNet #4 – Honor the Dead, Not the War

He did it again. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro visited Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan honors its 2.5 million war dead. His visit, the third of his tenure as prime minister, set off the usual storm in Northeast Asia. The prime minister’s motives were both banal and brave; he was driven by domestic political considerations as well as a desire to “normalize” patriotic sentiment in Japan. The fear that such visits are a prelude to renewed Japanese militarism is misplaced. Still, the sensitivity that surrounds visits to Yasukuni is a compelling reason to build a new war memorial, one that allows Japan to honor war victims without honoring war.