When Japanese suicide pilots (known as kamikaze in Western countries or tokkōtai in Japanese) bid farewell to their comrades before their final missions, they would say: “See you at Yasukuni!”
A bronze statue of a tokkōtai pilot at Yasukuni commemorates the numerous young men who died this way during the final months of the already lost war.
For close to 140 years, Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo has been a place where the souls of dead soldiers were venerated. Neither a secular war memorial like numerous tombs of the unknown soldier or national cemeteries, nor a Shinto shrine like any other, it is a place of hero worship and historical white-wash. A museum on the shrine grounds promotes a revisionist version of history, claiming that Japan was not an aggressor but was fighting in self-defence and to liberate Asia from Western colonialism. In the parallel universe of that museum, the rape of Nanjing in China that cost 100,000-300,000 lives never happened. The more than 2.4 million souls whose names on the shrine’s books also include the names of 14 class A war criminals sentenced to death in the Tokyo trials after World War 2. These criminals were originally excluded, but then enshrined decades later. It was at that point that Emperor Hirohito (referred to as “the late Emperor Showa” by the Japanese) stopped visiting the shrine. His son, the present emperor has not visited it either.
In 1945 the Occupation administration issued a ban against the Japanese government forcing citizens to attend state -sponsored Shinto rituals and against promoting militarism. Four years later the Japanese government then issued a ban against school excursions by public schools to Yasukuni and other Shinto shrines for the purpose of worship.
On May 23, 2008 the Japanese government declared this ban null and void, explaining that the original occupation ban had expired when Japan regained its sovereignty in the 1952 San Francisco peace treaty and that it was now OK for schools to organize trips to Yasukuni.
In other words, because an American prohibition against violating the separation of church and state and against militaristic propaganda was no longer in force, both were now apparently acceptable as far as the Japanese government was concerned.