Yasukuni Shrine

Last updated
Yasukuni Shrine
靖国神社
Yasukuni Jinja
Yasukuni Shrine 201005.jpg
The haiden (hall of worship)
Religion
Affiliation Shinto
FestivalShunki Reitaisai (Spring)
Shuki Reitaisai (Autumn)
Type Chokusaisha
(Former bekkaku-kanpeisha)
Location
Location3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda, Tokyo 102-8246
Japan location map with side map of the Ryukyu Islands.svg
Shinto torii icon vermillion.svg
Shown within Japan
Geographic coordinates 35°41′39″N139°44′35″E / 35.69417°N 139.74306°E / 35.69417; 139.74306 Coordinates: 35°41′39″N139°44′35″E / 35.69417°N 139.74306°E / 35.69417; 139.74306
Architecture
Style Shinmei-zukuri,
Copper roofing (dōbanbuki)
Founder Emperor Meiji
Date establishedJune 1869
Website
www.yasukuni.or.jp/english/
Icon of Shinto.svg Glossary of Shinto

Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 or, Yasukuni Jinja, lit. Peaceful Country) is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo. It was founded by Emperor Meiji in June 1869 and commemorates those who died in service of Japan from the Boshin War of 1868–1869 through the First Indochina War of 1946–1954. [1] The shrine's purpose has been expanded over the years to include those who died in the wars involving Japan spanning from the entire Meiji and Taishō periods, and the earlier part of the Shōwa period. [2]

Contents

The shrine lists the names, origins, birthdates, and places of death of 2,466,532 men, women, children, and various pet animals. Among those are 1,068 convicted war criminals, 14 of whom are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of the war). This has led to many controversies surrounding the shrine. Another memorial at the Honden (main hall) building commemorates anyone who died on behalf of Japan, but includes Koreans and Taiwanese who served Japan at the time. In addition, the Chinreisha ("Spirit Pacifying Shrine") building is a shrine built to inter the souls of all the people who died during WWII, regardless of their nationality. It is located directly south of the Yasukuni Honden.

Various Shinto festivals are associated with the shrine, particularly in the spring and autumn seasons when portable Mikoshi shrines are rounded about honoring the ancestral gods of Japan. A notable image of the shrine is the Japanese Imperial Chrysanthemum featured on the gate curtains leading into the shrine. The current 13th High Priest incumbent of the shrine is Tatebumi Yamaguchi, who was appointed on 1 November 2018 after Kunio Kobori.

History

Foundation for the dead in the Boshin War and Meiji Restoration

Tokyo Shokonsha in 1873 Tokyo Shokonsha.JPG
Tōkyō Shōkonsha in 1873

The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tōkyō Shōkonsha (東京招魂社, "shrine to summon the souls"), was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor. [3] The shrine was established in 1869, in the wake of the Boshin War, in order to honor the souls of those who died fighting for the Emperor. It initially served as the "apex" of a network of similar shrines throughout Japan that had originally been established for the souls of various feudal lords' retainers, and which continued to enshrine local individuals who died in the Emperor's service. Following the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, the Emperor had 6,959 souls of war dead enshrined at Tōkyō Shōkonsha. [4] In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. The name Yasukuni, quoted from the phrase「吾以靖國也 in the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan (Scroll 6, 23rd Year of Duke Xi), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor. [5] The name is formally written as , using the kyūjitai character forms common before the end of the Pacific War.

From First Sino-Japanese War to Second Sino-Japanese War

The enshrinement of war dead at Yasukuni was transferred to military control in 1887. As the Empire of Japan expanded, Okinawans, Ainu, and Koreans were enshrined at Yasukuni alongside ethnic Japanese. Emperor Meiji refused to allow the enshrinement of Taiwanese due to the organized resistance that followed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, but Taiwanese were later admitted due to the need to conscript them during World War II. [4] In 1932, two Sophia University (Jochi Daigaku) Catholic students refused visit to Yasukuni Shrine on the grounds that it was contrary to their religious convictions. [9] In 1936, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide) of the Roman Curia issued the Instruction Pluries Instanterque, [10] and approved visits to Yasukuni Shrine as an expression of patriotic motive. [11] This response of the Catholic Church helped the Jesuit university avoid a fateful crisis, but it meant its bowing down to the military power and control by Emperor system. [ clarification needed ][ opinion ]

During World War II and the GHQ occupation period

By the 1930s, the military government sought centralized state control over memorialization of the war dead, giving Yasukuni a more central role. Enshrinements at Yasukuni were originally announced in the government's Official Gazette so that the souls could be treated as national heroes, but this practice ended in April 1944, and the identities of the spirits were subsequently concealed from the general public. [4] The shrine had a critical role in military and civilian morale during the war era as a symbol of dedication to the Emperor. [12] Enshrinement at Yasukuni signified meaning and nobility to those who died for their country. During the final days of the war, it was common for soldiers sent on kamikaze suicide missions to say that they would "meet again at Yasukuni" following their death. [13] [14] After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities (known as GHQ) issued the Shinto Directive, which ordered the separation of church and state and forced Yasukuni Shrine to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. Yasukuni Shrine has been privately funded and operated since 1946, when it was elected to become an individual religious corporation independent of the Association of Shinto Shrines. [15] [16] The GHQ planned to burn down the Yasukuni Shrine and build a dog race course in its place. [17] However, Father Bruno Bitter of the Roman Curia and Father Patrick Byrne of Maryknoll insisted to GHQ that honoring their war dead is the right and duty of citizens everywhere, and GHQ decided not to destroy the Yasukuni shrine. [11] Moreover, the Roman Curia reaffirmed the Instruction Pluries Instanterque in 1951. [10] [11]

Post-war issues and controversies

The shrine authorities and the Ministry of Health and Welfare established a system in 1956 for the government to share information with the shrine regarding deceased war veterans. Most of Japan's war dead who were not already enshrined at Yasukuni were enshrined in this manner by April 1959. [13] War criminals prosecuted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East were initially excluded from enshrinement after the war. [13] Government authorities began considering their enshrinement, along with providing veterans' benefits to their survivors, following the signature of the Treaty of San Francisco in 1951, and in 1954 directed some local memorial shrines to accept the enshrinement of war criminals from their area. [18] No convicted war criminals were enshrined at Yasukuni until after the parole of the last remaining incarcerated war criminals in 1958. The Health and Welfare Ministry began forwarding information on Class B and Class C war criminals (those not involved in the planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of the war) to Yasukuni Shrine in 1959, and these individuals were gradually enshrined between 1959 and 1967, often without permission from surviving family members. [13] [18] Information on the fourteen most prominent Class A war criminals, which included the prime ministers and top generals from the war era, was forwarded to the shrine in 1966, and the shrine passed a resolution to enshrine these individuals in 1970. The timing for their enshrinement was left to the discretion of head priest Fujimaro Tsukuba, who delayed the enshrinement through his death in March 1978. His successor Nagayoshi Matsudaira, who rejected the Tokyo war crimes tribunal's verdicts, enshrined the Class A war criminals in a secret ceremony in 1978. [13] Emperor Hirohito, who visited the shrine as recently as 1975, was privately displeased with the action, and subsequently refused to visit the shrine. [19] The details of the enshrinement of war criminals eventually became public in 1979, but there was minimal controversy about the issue for several years. [13] No Emperor of Japan has visited Yasukuni since 1975, although the Emperor and Empress still continue to attend the National Memorial Service for War Dead annually. The head-priest Junna Nakata at Honzen-ji Temple (of the Shingon sect Daigo-ha) requested the pontiff Pope Paul VI to say a Mass for the repose of the souls of all people in the Yasukuni, which would include the 1,618 men condemned as Class A, B and C war criminals, and he promised to do so. In 1980, Pope John Paul II complied, and a mass was held in St. Peter's Basilica for all the fallen civilians and fallen dead worshiped in the shrine. [11] The museum and website of the Yasukuni Shrine have made statements criticizing the United States for "convincing" the Empire of Japan to launch the Attack on Pearl Harbor just in order to justify war with them, as well as claiming that Japan went to war with the intention of creating a "Co-Prosperity Sphere" for all Asians. [20]

Chronology

[6] [7] [8] See details on related controversy in Controversies surrounding Yasukuni Shrine.

King of Thailand, King Rama VII (Prajadhipok)'s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine (May 1931) King Rama VII and his suite visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.jpg
King of Thailand, King Rama VII (Prajadhipok)'s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine (May 1931)
Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh visiting Yasukuni Shrine (October 1931) Charles Lindbergh and his wife visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.jpg
Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh visiting Yasukuni Shrine (October 1931)
French Navy officers' visit to Yasukuni Shrine (May 1933) French Navy personnel visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1930s.jpg
French Navy officers' visit to Yasukuni Shrine (May 1933)
The United States Navy officers' visit to Yasukuni Shrine (July 1933) US Navy personnel visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1930s.jpg
The United States Navy officers' visit to Yasukuni Shrine (July 1933)
German Navy officers' visit to Yasukuni Shrine (March 1937) German Navy personnel visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1930s.jpg
German Navy officers' visit to Yasukuni Shrine (March 1937)
Hitler Youth visit to Yasukuni Shrine (October 1938) Hitlerjugend visit to Yasukuni Shrine State Shinto wreath procession kannushi 1938.jpg
Hitler Youth visit to Yasukuni Shrine (October 1938)
Eirei ni kotaeru Kai (Society for Honoring the Glorious War Dead) members (August 15, 2001) Eirei ni kotaeru Kai members.jpg
Eirei ni kotaeru Kai (Society for Honoring the Glorious War Dead) members (August 15, 2001)

A January 2014 poll by the conservative-leaning Sankei Shimbun found that only 38.1% of respondents approved of the most recent visit by Abe, while 53% disapproved, a majority of whom cited harm to Japan's foreign relations as their reason. At the same time, 67.7% of respondents said they were not personally convinced by Chinese and Korean criticism of the visit. [39] However, another poll in 2015 by Genron NPO found that 15.7% of respondents disapproved of visits in general by Prime Ministers while 66% of respondents saw no problem, particularly if they were done in private (which was a decrease from 68.2% the year before). [40]

Annual celebrations

The Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine Yasukuni Mitama Night.JPG
The Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni Mitama Lanterns Yasukuni Mitama Lanterns.JPG
Yasukuni Mitama Lanterns
Haiden with purple curtains in the Niinamesai YasukuniJinja 23November.JPG
Haiden with purple curtains in the Niinamesai

[50] [51]

Enshrined deities

There are over 2,466,000 enshrined kami (deities) listed in the Yasukuni's Symbolic Registry of Divinities. This list includes soldiers, as well as women and students who were involved in relief operations in the battlefield or worked in factories for the war effort. [2] There are neither ashes nor spirit tablets in the shrine. Enshrinement is not exclusive to people of Japanese descent. Yasukuni Shrine has enshrined 27,863 Taiwanese and 21,181 Koreans. [52] Many more kami – those who fought in opposition to imperial Japan, as well as all war dead regardless of nationality – are enshrined at Chinreisha. [53]

Eligible categories

As a general rule, the enshrined are limited to military personnel who were killed while serving Japan during armed conflicts. Civilians who were killed during a war are not included, apart from a handful of exceptions. A deceased must fall into one of the following categories for enshrinement in the honden:

  1. Military personnel, and civilians serving for the military, who were:
    • killed in action, or died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty outside the Home Islands (and within the Home Islands after September 1931)
    • missing and presumed to have died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty
    • died as a result of war crime tribunals which have been ratified by the San Francisco Peace Treaty
  2. Civilians who participated in combat under the military and died from resulting wounds or illnesses (includes residents of Okinawa)
  3. Civilians who died, or are presumed to have died, in Soviet labor camps during and after the war
  4. Civilians who were officially mobilized or volunteered (such as factory workers, mobilized students, Japanese Red Cross nurses and anti air-raid volunteers) who were killed while on duty
  5. Crew who were killed aboard Merchant Navy vessels
  6. Crew who were killed due to the sinking of exchange ships (e.g. Awa Maru )
  7. Okinawan schoolchildren evacuees who were killed (e.g. the sinking of Tsushima Maru )
  8. Officials of the governing bodies of Karafuto Prefecture, Kwantung Leased Territory, Governor-General of Korea and Governor-General of Taiwan

Although new names of soldiers killed during World War II are added to the shrine list every year, no one who was killed due to conflicts after Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty that formally ended World War II in 1951 has been qualified for enshrinement. Therefore, the shrine does not include members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces which was established after the peace treaty.

Enshrinement is carried out unilaterally by the shrine without consultation of surviving family members and in some cases against the stated wishes of the family members. Some families from foreign countries such as South Korea have requested that their relatives be delisted on the grounds that enshrining someone against their beliefs in life constitutes an infringement of the Constitution. [54] The Yasukuni priesthood, however, has stated that once a kami is enshrined, it has been 'merged' with the other kami occupying the same seat and therefore cannot be separated.[ citation needed ]

Conflicts

Japan has participated in 16 other conflicts since the Boshin War in 1869. The following table chronologically lists the number of people enshrined as kami at the honden (as of October 17, 2004) from each of these conflicts.

ConflictDescriptionYear(s)Number of enshrinedNotes
Boshin War and Meiji Restoration Japanese civil war 1867–18697,751 [55]
Satsuma Rebellion Japanese civil war 18776,971 [55]
Taiwan Expedition of 1874 Conflict with Paiwan people (Taiwanese aborigines)18741,130 [55]
Ganghwa Island incident Conflict with Joseon Army 18752 [55] [56]
Imo Incident Conflict with Joseon Rebel Army over Korea 188214 [57] [58] [59]
Gapsin Coup a failed 3-day coup d'état in the late Joseon Dynasty of Korea18846 [55] [60]
First Sino-Japanese War Conflict with Qing China over Korea 1894–9513,619 [55]
Boxer Uprising Eight-Nation Alliance's invasion of China19011,256 [55]
Russo-Japanese War Conflict with Russian Empire over Korea and Manchuria 1904–0588,429 [55]
World War I Conflict with German Empire (Central Powers) over Mediterranean Sea and Shandong, a Chinese province 1914–19184,850 [55]
Battle of Qingshanli Conflict with the Korean Independence Army over Korea 192011 [55]
Jinan Incident Conflict with the Kuomintang of China over Jinan, the capital of Shandong province1928185 [55]
Wushe Incident The last major uprising against colonial Japanese forces in Taiwan 1930Unknown [55]
Nakamura Incident The extrajudicial killing of Imperial Japanese Army Captain Shintarō Nakamura and three others, on 27 June 1931 by Chinese soldiers in Manchuria193119 [61]
Mukden Incident Leading to the occupation of Manchuria 1931–193717,176 [55] [62]
Second Sino-Japanese War Conflict with China 1937–1941191,250 [55] [62]
World War II Pacific theatre
(including Indochina War [63] )
Conflict with the Allied forces and involvement in the Pacific theater (including Class A, B, & C War Criminals, and Forced labor of Japanese in the Soviet Union)
(Conflict with France [63] )
1941–1945
1945–
2,133,915 [55] [62]
 Total2,466,584 [55]

The Yasukuni shrine does not include the Tokugawa shogunate's forces (particularly from the Aizu domain) or rebel forces who died during the Boshin War or Satsuma Rebellion because they are considered enemies of the emperor. They are enshrined at Chinreisha. [53] This exclusion, which includes the ancestors of former Chief Priest Toshiaki Nanbu (2004–2009), is deeply resented in both areas.[ citation needed ]

Precinct

Yasukuni Shrine's haiden Yasukuni shrine honden.jpg
Yasukuni Shrine's haiden

There are a multitude of facilities within the 6.25 hectare grounds of the shrine, as well as several structures along the 4 hectare causeway. Though other shrines in Japan also occupy large areas, Yasukuni is different because of its recent historical connections. The Yūshūkan museum is just the feature that differentiate Yasukuni from other Shinto shrines. The following lists describe many of these facilities and structures.

Shrine structures

On the shrine grounds, there are several important religious structures. The shrine's haiden , Yasukuni's main prayer hall where worshipers come to pray, was originally built in 1901 in styles of Irimoya-zukuri , Hirairi , and Doubanbuki (copper roofing) in order to allow patrons to pay their respects and make offerings. This building's roof was renovated in 1989. The white screens hanging off the ceiling are changed to purple ones on ceremonial occasions. [64]

The honden is the main shrine where Yasukuni's enshrined deities reside. Built in 1872 and refurbished in 1989, it is where the shrine's priests perform Shinto rituals. The building is generally closed to the public. [65]

The building located on the right side of haiden is the Sanshuden (参集殿) (Assembly Hall), which was rebuilt in 2004. Reception and waiting rooms are available for individuals and groups who wish to worship in the Main Shrine. [66]

The building located directly behind the Sanshuden is the Tochakuden (到着殿) (Reception Hall). [67]

The building located directly behind the honden is known as the Reijibo Hōanden (霊璽簿奉安殿) (Repository for the Symbolic Registers of Divinities) built in styles of Kirizuma-zukuri, Hirairi, and Doubanbuki. It houses the Symbolic Registry of Divinities (霊璽簿, Reijibo)—a handmade Japanese paper document that lists the names of all the kami enshrined and worshiped at Yasukuni Shrine. It was built of quakeproof concrete in 1972 with a private donation from Emperor Hirohito. [68]

In addition to Yasukuni's main shrine buildings, there are also two peripheral shrines located on the precinct. Motomiya (元宮) is a small shrine that was first established in Kyoto by sympathizers of the imperial loyalists that were killed during the early weeks of the civil war that erupted during the Meiji Restoration. Seventy years later, in 1931, it was moved directly south of Yasukuni Shrine's honden. Its name, Motomiya ("Original Shrine"), references the fact that it was essentially a prototype for the current Yasukuni Shrine. [69] The second peripheral shrine is the Chinreisha . This small shrine was constructed in 1965, directly south of the Motomiya. It is dedicated to those not enshrined in the honden—those killed by wars or incidents worldwide, regardless of nationality. It has a festival on July 13. [70]

Torii and Mon (gates)

There are several different torii and mon () gates located on both the causeway and shrine grounds. When moving through the grounds from east to west, the first torii visitors encounter is the Daiichi Torii (Ōtorii). This large steel structure was the largest torii in Japan when it was first erected in 1921 to mark the main entrance to the shrine. [71] It stands approximately 25 meters tall and 34 meters wide and is the first torii. The current iteration of this torii was erected in 1974 after the original was removed in 1943 due to weather damage. This torii was recently repainted. [72]

The Daini Torii (Seidō Ōtorii) is the second torii encountered on the westward walk to the shrine. It was erected in 1887 to replace a wooden one which had been erected earlier. [71] This is the largest bronze torii in Japan. [73] Immediately following the Daini Torii is the shinmon (神門). A 6-meter tall hinoki cypress gate, it was first built in 1934 and restored in 1994. Each of its two doors bears a Chrysanthemum Crest measuring 1.5 meters in diameter. [74] West of this gate is the Chumon Torii (中門鳥居) (Third Shrine Gate), the last torii visitors must pass underneath before reaching Yasukuni's haiden. It was recently rebuilt of cypress harvested in Saitama Prefecture in 2006. [75]

In addition to the three torii and one gate that lead to the main shrine complex, there are a few others that mark other entrances to the shrine grounds. The Ishi Torii is a large stone torii located on the south end of the main causeway. It was erected in 1932 and marks the entrance to the parking lots. [76] The Kitamon and Minamimon are two areas that mark the north and south entrances, respectively, into the Yasukuni Shrine complex. The Minamimon is marked by a small wooden gateway.

Yasukuni 1st Torii 20050201.jpg
Daiichi Torii (Great Gate)
Yasukuni Shrine 2012 II.JPG
Daini Torii
Yasukuni Shrine Sinmon 2010.jpg
Shinmon
Yasukuni Shrine 2012.JPG
Chumon Torii

Memorials

Irei no Izumi at yasukuni shrine.jpg
Irei no Izumi Sculpture
Yasukuni Bronze Women and Children.JPG
Statue of War Widow with Children
Japan 280316 Kamikaze Yasukuni 03.jpg
Kamikaze Pilot Commemoration Statue
Yasukuni Bronze Horse.JPG
Horse Commemoration Statue
Yasukuni Hitachi-Maru Memorial Stele.jpg
Hitachimaru Junnan Kinenhi

Other buildings and structures

Syago Hyo YasukuniJinsha-Entry01 1991.jpg
Syagō Hyō
Nogakudo Yasukuni Shirine Nogakudo 01.jpg
Nōgakudo
The nameboard of Nogakudo Yasukuni Shirine Nogakudo 03.jpg
The nameboard of Nōgakudo
The entrance to the Yushukan Yasukuni Yushukan.JPG
The entrance to the Yūshūkan

(from Kudanshita Station)

Shokonsaitei Shokonsaitei.jpg
Shōkonsaitei
Kountei Xing Yun Ting .jpg
Kōuntei

List of priests

[6] [7] [8]

Guji (Chief priests): term of office

Gon-guji (associate chief priests): term of office

Organization

Yasukuni shrine is an individual religious corporation and does not belong to the Association of Shinto Shrines. [104] Yasukuni shrine has departments listed below. The Gūji (宮司) controls the overall system, and the Gon-gūji (権宮司) assists the Gūji. [7]

Cultural references to Yasukuni shrine

Bank notes

Postage stamps

Scenic postmarks

Plays

Books

Posters

Swords

In 1933, Minister of War Sadao Araki founded the Nihon-tō Tanrenkai (日本刀鍛錬会, Japanese Sword Forging Association) in the grounds of the shrine to preserve old forging methods and promote Japan's samurai traditions, as well as to meet the huge demand for guntō (military swords) for officers.[ citation needed ] About 8,100 "Yasukuni swords" were manufactured in the grounds of the Yasukuni Shrine between 1933 and 1945.[ citation needed ]

See also

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References

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Sources

Further reading

Regarding its controversy