Today began with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visit to Yasukuni Shrine. The memorial service for the war dead is held every year from noon. After the Emperor’s speech, the Prime Minister and speakers from both Diet houses make speeches to console the souls of the war dead at the war memorial, and each offers flowers. I have attended this memorial service for four years, every year, as the President of the Science Council of Japan and offers flowers on behalf of Japanese scientists.
I think this is a wonderful thing. Three years ago, a friend of mine, a scientist, told me that he was very moved and impressed by this tradition. I too believe that countries that treat the representatives of “scholarly thoughts” in this manner on such an occasion have insight.
Last year we had an international conference with the radical theme of "Dynamism and Uncertainty in Asia" under the auspices of the Science Council of Japan. We invited leaders of science community from China, Korea, India, Indonesia and several more. From Japan, political science leaders among others, Professors Makoto Iokibe, Akihiko Tanaka, Takashi Inoguchi participated. We limited this conference to only one hundred people because as you know, it was obvious that the question of the visit to Yasukuni Shrine would come up in the discussion. Ultimately, as expected, the issue was raised and discussed.
In the conference, Jusuf Wanandi, Vice Chair of a distinguished Indonesian think-tank, CSIS, stated that the Japanese official memorial service for the war dead is the ceremony of August 15th , as above, which the Japanese Emperor and Empress attend. This ceremony is different from visiting Yasukuni Shrine bu political leaders including Prime Minister. I told them that the president of the Science Council of Japan attends this official ceremony every year and offers flowers, recognizing the very high status of the science community. Everybody in attendance was impressed by the idea.
These are the kinds of things that may show a sense of national dignity and quality of Japan. Not many people consider these types of issues in any depth, but Japan cannot remain the way of dealing with Yasukuni Shrine as a political agenda. Please think about it.