Tuesday, April 22, 2008

See AP Spin the Latest Yasukuni Visit

It’s on the CNN, WaPo, and NYT (but not the BBC) websites under the headline Japanese Officials Visit War Shrine. According to the AP wire:

Eight top government officials and more than 150 lawmakers prayed at the Yasukuni Shrine, which reveres 2.5 million war dead, including executed war criminals, said organizer Yoshinobu Shimamura.

It goes on to say that:

The pilgrimage marking an annual spring festival comes at a sensitive time -- the day after the South Korean president's visit and only two weeks before a planned trip by the Chinese president. Provocative, no?

The AP report does tell you that “Prime Minister Fukuda did not attend”. What it doesn’t tell you, though, is that Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, and Shigeru Ishiba also didn’t go. Call them the Big Four--the Chinese authorities told the Koizumi administration that if they stayed away, it would be okay with them (if not with the South Koreans). Prime Minister Koizumi wouldn’t listen, but the Abe administration did. So has the Fukuda administration, but that’s no surprise; there aren’t that many people in the LDP to Mr. Fukuda’s left, as far as foreign relations is concerned. No. The real news is that no Cabinet member joined the Yasukuni-fest, and how often do you see that happen?

The Fukuda administration is floundering, and the last thing that it needed was a distraction involving China and South Korea. Unable to do anything about the timing of the spring rites or the two heads-of-state visits aand the Japan leg of the Olympic torch run, Mr. Fukuda must have made sure that no one in his Cabinet - mostly handpicked by Mr. Abe - would step out of line. That's the real story.

And I had thought that wire services were above that sort of trick. Fooled me once.


Anonymous said...

The report on saw on Japanese TV only mentioned 62 diet members.

Where did the AP get the 150 figure? Are they including members of local governments?

MTC said...

No, the AP is stupidly including the political secretaries and other dairinin of absent parliamentarians.

Since when is a Parliamentary Secretary a top government official anyway?

As for your question, Okumura-san, it is probably the first time in a very, very long time that no Cabinet members attended. I remember the panic at lunchtime on August l5 last year when top leaders realized no member of the Cabinet had visited Yasukuni in the morning. The powers that be had Takaichi Sanae slip into something appropriate and make a dash for the shrine in the afternoon. From my memory of the reporting at the time, her solitary attendance had set a new record low in the number of Cabinet officers attending a Yasukuni festival day.

MTC said...

Okumura-san -

Oooops. Looks like I blogged about this last year.


The graphic does not provide information on the Spring Festivals of yore, though.

Jun Okumura said...

Alas, 'tis the last days of the Empire! Heaven's curse shall befall those faithless curs!

Re your 2007 post, MTC, 1975 is the last year that the Emperor visited Yasukuni. Many other things happened in the immediate years after that. Perhaps that's why Yasukuni began to realize the importance of the political visitors and began recording the Prime Minister's visits, then all the Cabinet Ministers'. After all, it's hard to believe that none of the Ministers except the Prime Minister bothered to go before the Suzuki administration. And yes, I remember Ms. Takechi, the Minister who first did not go, then did.