JIN-380 -- The Heart of Koizumi

The J@pan Inc. Newsletter
Commentary on the Week's Business, Technology and Cultural News
Issue No. 380
Friday August 18, 2006 TOKYO
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@@ VIEWPOINT: The Heart of Koizumi

====Experience Japanese traditional culture. See "Noh" ====

Noh, a major form of traditional Japanese musical drama
dates back to the 14th century. Now you can experience
Noh first-hand at the Cerulean Tower Noh theatre.

Place: Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
Date: September 3, 2006
Time: 13:00, 16:30
Ticket: S seat (Front) JPY12,000 / A seat (Side) JPY10,000
/ B seat (Corner) JPY8,000
Language: Japanese

Noh Packages: Ask about our traditional Japanese
“Ryoutei” lunch or dinner packages, and accommodation
packages also available (email shouzou.kita@tkk.tokyu.co.jp for details).

For ticket information contact Mr. Shozo Kita at shouzou.kita@tkk.tokyu.co.jp
or call Ticket PIA on 0570-02-9988

== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - September 12th ==

Speaker: Alex Serge Vieux, Publisher of Red Herring and CEO
of Red Herring Inc. Presentation Title: "Building great
companies in the face of adversity"

Mr. Vieux has kindly offered to fly out from California to
speak at EA-Tokyo's September seminar. He will be drawing
on his extensive expertise as a high-tech journalist,
entrepreneur, professor, and advisor to the French
government. Mr. Vieux is currently responsible for steering
the growth of the organization and guiding the publication's vision.

Date/Time: September 12th 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room (Canadian Embassy
Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com
Email: info@ea-tokyo.com
@@ VIEWPOINT: The Heart of Koizumi

When I turned on the news Tuesday morning, I was surprised
to see a live telecast of a motorcade.
The broadcaster's helicopter hovered over the black
limousines as they traveled through streets empty because of
hour and season, this being O-Bon, when Tokyoites return to
hometowns to welcome the spirits of their ancestors. It was
the sort of bird's-eye view coverage afforded O. J.
Simpson's flight from the law, the transport of Asahara
Shoko in a police van to prison, or the release from jail
of ex-Livedoor president and entrepreneur wunderkind
Takafumi Horie. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I heard the
NHK announcer mention Yasukuni. So that was it! Prime
Minister Koizumi was en route to Yasukuni Shrine.

His visit should have come as no surprise. He had been
dropping broad hints that he would visit Yasukuni Shrine on
August 15, the anniversary of the end of the Second World
War. Yet nothing could have prepared me or many others for
the reality of his actually going to Yasukuni on the 15th.

Before becoming Prime Minister he had promised to visit
Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, the anniversary of the end of
the Second World War, The promise helped his Liberal
Democratic Party garner the support of the association of
bereaved families. Since his election as president of the
LDP, ipso facto, his election as prime minister, in 2001,
he has made six visits to Yasukuni. The last was the first
on August 15.

The visits have deeply offended the Chinese and Korean
peoples, because Yasukuni enshrines 14 executed Class A war
criminals. They interpret the Japanese Prime Minister's
visits as an acts of non-repentance for Imperial Army
atrocities during the war. Koizumi remonstrates that he
praying for the souls of those who gave their lives for their
country and for world peace. For a shrine so fraught with
symbolism (an attached museum even gives a revisionist
history of the war as war of liberation), Koizumi's stance
seems disingenuous. When it was revealed that the late
Emperor had apparently stopped visiting Yasukuni after its
enshrining the Class A war criminals in 1978, Koizumi was
unfazed, commenting that whether to visit or not was a
matter of "kokoro," or heart.

Let's retrace the road to the end of the Second World
War in 1945.

In January US forces landed on Luzon in the Philippines.
In February Allied forces bombed the ancient German
city of Dresden. In March B-29 bombers incinerated a
wide swath of Tokyo. In April US forces invaded the
main island of Okinawa, Mussolini was killed, and
Hitler committed suicide. In May Germany surrendered
unconditionally. In June a supreme war council with His
Imperial Majesty in attendance adopted a policy of
fighting a decisive battle on the main Japanese islands.
In July the Allied Powers issued the Potsdam Declaration,
which Prime Minister Suzuki ignored. In August atomic
bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the
Japanese Government accepted the Potsdam Declaration.
On the 15th the Emperor announced via radio that the
war was over.

The above is only a fraction of the events in the final
stage of the Second World War. Many other Japanese cities
were fire bombed with tremendous loss of life. Elsewhere
in Asia and the rest of the world countless other people
were victims of the war.

In countries near Japan the Imperial Army turned villages
and towns into battlefields, and there are alive today
people who saw their families killed and their homes
torched. In time they regained peace of mind, although
they never forgot, and they certainly can't forgive the
perpetrating nation's behaving as if it has forgotten.

Koizumi explained that the decision to pray at the shrine
was a matter of "kokoro," or heart. Even if the dictates of
his own heart hold sway, is there no room in his heart
for the feelings of those who suffered at the hands of
his country's military? As one expected to be the
representative of his nation, his small-mindedness
is striking.

In the world there are things that won't be forgotten
even if a 100 years elapse. Is it too much to ask
Japanese leaders to remember that?

Let's hope Koizumi's successor is a man with a bigger
heart, and a politician with an appreciation of symbolism.
Would it be to much to hope for a statesman?

-- Burritt Sabin

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