Statements Archive
Dec 27, 2013 - In Strong Protest against Prime Minister Abe's Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
Peace Boat has been serving as one of the coordinating organizations for the "Lighting Peace Candles to the Darkness of Yasukuni!" Candle Action since 2006, organizing international symposiums, public actions and more on the issue of the Yasukuni war shrine. On December 27, we sent the following letter of protest to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, in regards to his visit to Yasukuni Shrine on December 26 - the first visit by a sitting Japanese Prime Minister in 7 years.

The Japanese language version of this statement is available here, and

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This photograph is from an action held in Tokyo on August 14, 2006, in protest of then Prime Minister Koizumi's declaration to visit the Yasukuni war shrine the following day.

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On December 26, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies Japan's past wars as "holy wars" and enshrines Class A war criminals. This visit took place officially, the first by a Japanese Prime Minister in 7 years, as Abe approached the main shrine and also recorded his name formally as "Prime Minister Abe Shinzo." We strongly protest the Prime Minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

Prime Minister Abe claims that "it is natural to pay respect to the spirits of the war dead." However, the Prime Minister's act of visiting a shrine which honors Class A war criminals responsible for leading the war of invasion of Asia goes against any peaceful principles based on remorse for past wars of invasion, as well as Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution, which separates religion and the State. Not only this, but the visit is also an act of violence, trampling both internal and international agreements such as the San Francisco Peace Treaty which came into force in 1952 and built Japan's post-war international relations, the 1972 Joint Communique between the Governments of Japan and China, the 1995 Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the Basis of Lessons Learned from History ("Murayama Statement") issued on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the 1998 Japan-Korea Joint Declaration towards the Partnership Agreement. No summit meeting has been held between the leaders of Japan and Korea since December 2011, and tensions continue between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute. Prime Minister Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine amidst this situation undermines the position Japan wishes to hold within the international community.

Prior to World War II, Yasukuni Shrine's head priest was the Meiji Emperor, and the shrine was a site for concealing the real tragedy of war and forcing the sadness of bereaved families to be changed to joy through honoring the war dead. It was also a military facility under the jurisdiction of the Army Ministry of Japan, and the spiritual basis for sending citizens to the battlefield.

After World War II the Yasukuni Shrine became a religious entity by law, however as made clear by the enshrining and honouring of Class A War Criminals and the displays at the Yushukan museum on the site, the institution continues today to glorify the war dead and justify the wars of invasion. Furthermore, the many war dead housed at the shrine include approximately 28,000 Taiwanese and 22,000 Koreans who were sent to participate in Japan's war of invasion as part of Japan's colonial rule. Their families in Taiwan and Korea are making compelling requests for the names of their deceased relatives to be removed from the list of those enshrined at Yasukuni. Yet, the shrine is refusing to pay heed to the voices of these bereaved families. Prime Minister Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine will be seen around the world as the Japanese Government's affirmation of the inaccurate recognition of history portrayed at Yasukuni. This is unacceptable.

During this extraordinary Diet session, the Abe administration has created a National Security Council (NSC), strengthening his office's command functions in relation to diplomacy and security. Through the enactment of the state secrets protection law at this same session, the Abe government has deprived the people of the 'right to know.' Furthermore, at the next regular Diet session Abe aims to revise the interpretation of Article 9, the peace clause of Japan's constitution, through the establishment of a Basic Law on National Security. When this series of measures is considered together, it is apparent that Prime Minister Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine at this particular timing will appear to be a denial by Japan of its pacifism, and an expression of the will to return to being a country which will once again send its people to war.

We strongly oppose and protest the Prime Minister's visit of Yasukuni Shrine, in order to create a forward-looking and peaceful Japan, and a peaceful Asia.

December 27, 2013
The "Lighting Peace Candles to the Darkness of Yasukuni!" Candle Action Organizing Committee

Endorsed by:
The Women's Active Museum on War and Peace (wam)
Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21
Association for the Issue of Forced Labour of Chinese People
Peace Boat
Citizens' Association Against Revision of the Constitution
All Solidarity Network for Resolution of the "Comfort Women" Issue

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Contact: Nohira Shinsaku (Peace Boat / Yasukuni Candle Action Committee), +81-90-6015-6820

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Download this statement as a
PDF here, or view the Japanese version or Korean version.