Ise Jingu, Meiji Jingu Okay; But Not Yasukuni Jinja
On January 4th, Prime Minister Abe paid his respects at the Ise Jingu, the shrine of the imperial household. On the 6th, he visited the Meiji Jingu, where the Meiji Emperor and Empress are enshrined. Interestingly, Junichiro Koizumi never visited the Meiji Jingu during his five-year tenure. Of course, nobody knows if or when Mr. Abe is going, and he's not going to tell us either. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, will most likely be visiting Japan in March. The Big Kahuna will be on hold for another year.
In the meantime, the joint history commission has been rolled out, and calm waters prevail over the East China Sea gas fields. (Mssrs. Abe and Aso talked joint development with their counterparts at the November APEC Summit in Hanoi, and that was it). Nary a peep except a Chinese complaint over what Shisaku thinks is a red herring.
Hisahiko Okazaki, Mr. Abe's foreign policy guru, insists that Mr. Abe will go to Yasukuni. I continue to believe that there is a tacit deal. In any case, it's the undecided vote Mr. Abe needs in the Upper House general election later in the year, and mismanagement of external relations is a distraction that he cannot afford. After the election, he will be holding on to a diminished coalition majority, and the Komeito doves will become even more valuable to the LDP. My money is definitely on no Yasukuni visit during the Abe administration, and Hu in Tokyo in 2008.
Speaking of Yasukuni, I hope somebody bothered to snap photos at the exhibits before they changed the captions. No matter where you stand on the issues, the captions themselves had historical value. Not that the changes address Chinese complaints, if I have been informed correctly.