A great post over at ESWN about a Taiwanese pro-independence politician, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強), who visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan. What is the Yasukuni Shrine?
Yasukuni Shrine, for those who don’t know, is the place where the spirits of Japanese war dead are enshrined and worshipped as gods. Tojo Hikeki, who, as Japan’s war-time prime minister, ordered the attack on Pearl Habor, is one of the spirits installed at Yasukuni.
Since the war, Yakasuni has been the center of Japan’s growing nationalist resurgency. Until the 1980’s, no Prime Minister visited the Shrine officially, since doing so would enrage the anti-war elements of Japanese society and damage relations abroad, especially with Asian countries like China that has suffered at the hands of Japanese invaders.
All of that has since changed, and now, Japanese ministers and members of government routinely visit the Shrine.
So you can see why Shu Chin-chiang visiting the shrine is a tad controversial. As ESWN says:
Given the annual row with China and Korea over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visiting this shrine, this is clearly provocative action.
That’s an understatement. But, it isn’t just China and Korea that Shu provoked, but also Taiwanese whose families were forced into military service for the Japanese, Aborigines who were massacred by the Japanese, and “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese.
It is certainly true that Taiwan’s experience under Japanese colonial rule was much more benign than what China and Korea experienced, but Shu’s visit clearly crossed a line beyond what is politically acceptable in today’s Taiwan.
Interestingly, one of the major figures in this controversy has been Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝), about whom Scott has written a fair amount.