Tokyo’s Yasukuni Jinja is often referred to as the capital’s ‘war shrine’, and, as 14 Class-A war criminals are enshrined there, it’s a moniker not exactly unwarranted. An element that makes any official visit hugely controversial, resulting in increased tension between Japan and its Asian neighbours.
At the same time, however, it is where almost two and a half million of Japan’s war dead are also enshrined. Young soldiers and citizens who, like countless others all over the world, served their country. Many not because of ideology or desire, but out of duty. Men and women who quite rightly deserve the respect of their families, comrades and country people.
The only trouble is, the aforementioned controversy that surrounds the shrine, and the far-right groups that use it as a rallying point, often make it difficult to distinguish between honour and hostility, prayer and propaganda.