George Soros Visits Yasukuni Shrine


We needed to see it for ourselves.
Today, George Soros, a few others, and I visited Yasukuni Shrine — both the war memorial and the adjacent museum.
The museum seemed to me to be a spectacularly done exercise in historical denial about the matters that led up to World War II — and to Japan’s conduct during that war. What is presented is a heavily loaded version of history that casts Japan as a hapless victim.
More on Yasukuni and the controversies it represents in Asia another time.
I just wanted to let folks know that Soros felt it important to get a sense of the shrine and treatment of history — and he publicly acknowledged his visit in interviews today.
More later.

— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “George Soros Visits Yasukuni Shrine

  1. francis peintre says:

    Fantastic article covering some points I really enjoyed.


  2. RadicalRon says:

    January 21, 2009
    AP – Washington DC
    President Hillary Ilyich Clinton announced today the capitulation of the US government to the New Caliphate.
    Shaking from abject fear, Clinton, accompanied by First Whoremonger Bill and daughter Chelsea Hubbel, then boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for transport to an unknown secure location to await announcement of their fate by the newly established Sharia’ court. It is thought that Miss Hubbel will be spared, perhaps even pardoned, by the court.
    With yesterday’s public beheading in front of the Eiffel Tower of billionaire George Soros immediately following his conviction by the Sharia’ court in the Republic of Francistan, President Clinton, three hours after her inauguration, said that the Islamists “cannot be trusted” and that they had “explicitly lied” to her when she accepted their assistance during the presidential campaign against Rudy Giuliani.
    Clinton said that “representatives of al-Qaeda had promised” that they would “leave America alone” if she defeated Giuliani.
    Asked if she had any regrets about betraying her country, Clinton said, “I’d never do that! I was only trying to protect myself.”


  3. harris says:

    I think I would have felt better about the post if you had stated that the photograph of the shrine was not one taken by you took but lifted from it’s web page.


  4. Frank says:

    The truth is no friend of self esteem. Whether a nation or an individual, whether a concept or an actual historical fact, acknowledging what “was”, stunningly explains Clinton’s question of what the definition of “is” is.
    The Bush administration has continuously morphed that word in the context of what is happening in Iraq. The “is” will shortly be distorted to justify the “was” by the Baker/Hamilton commission report. The report will be framed within the justifcation of the loss of lives and assets. It is a challanging exercise. Hamiliton has experience in framing a report that exonerates all, e.g. the 9/11 commission report. Self esteem will thus be preserved for those who lost loved ones in this war of Bush’s choice, and I speculate that it will raise the self esteem of those who would do us harm. The report will be one milestone touch stone for historians in their study of the criminaly psychotic nature of the Bush administration.


  5. glib says:

    Finest left off the last part ……
    Mr. Bush was accompanied by his transgendered ‘wife’, Herb, “and never mentioned the hanging of disgraced President Bush II in 2008 for the treason of lying the United States into an internationally disaterous war in Iraq that unnecessarily claimed the lives of 313,666.”


  6. Robert Morrow says:

    Whitewashing in Japan is likely more necessary than elsewhere considering their preoccupation with saving face and shame. Mass hiri-kiri or at least national psycho-depression may result if the whole truth be common knowledge.
    That’s pretty funny. Can’t deal with reality, can they?


  7. Arun says:

    Speaking of people in denial, this is from way back when, on this blog:
    “George Bush has just taken a first step, a big step in my view, in bringing America a notch back towards democracy by bringing all of America’s “off the books” prisoners into the daylight and towards a more transparent legal process.”
    This is from TPM, today:
    “Didn’t President Bush, in a much ballyhoed press conference in September, declare that the CIA’s secret prisoners were being transferred to Gitmo for trial by military tribunals? That is what he said, right?
    So what’s this about?
    A suspected al Qaeda leader, accused of being involved in September 11 and planning the 2004 Madrid train bombings, has been imprisoned in a secret U.S. jail for the past year, Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported on Sunday.”

    No further comment is needed. How many lies are needed before trust is withdrawn?


  8. Finest says:

    Bulletin from 2054:
    President Bush IV laid a wreath today at the grave of the Unknown Liberal, the last member of a little known sect, like the Whigs, Bull Moose, and Green Party before them, left on the ash-heap of history. An outcry was heard from many who felt sympathy for such an outmoded way of thought was missdirected. But President Bush explained it was better to mollify the spirts of past onerous movements than to ignore them. Mr. Bush was accompanied by his transgendered ‘wife’, Herb.


  9. hobbes says:

    Whitewashing in Japan is likely more necessary than elsewhere considering their preoccupation with saving face and shame. Mass hiri-kiri or at least national psycho-depression may result if the whole truth be common knowledge.
    How’s the US finally going to deal with its defeat in debacle Iraq? Are Americans going to erect a Christian shrine in Kansas where their excuted War Criminals are buried? We have got to think about this now and make sure Bush & Co. are planted, after hanging, in unmarked graves in the Mojave desert, and be over and done with what needs to be done as Peace and Justice demand it.


  10. Greg Diamond says:

    Joe: You’re right that we all do it to an extent, but trust me, it’s worse here. Much worse.
    I remember basic US history in elementary and middle schools. Sure, they taught us about Pearl Harbor, but they also taught us about the Trail of Tears, our expansionist wars with Mexico, and how the Hearst newspapers practically started the Spanish-American war on their own. Hell, by high school we were even discussing whether or bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been the right thing to do, and our textbook covered things like the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
    A lot of the approved textbooks (everything’s gotta get the OK from the national educational ministry) completely omit stuff like that here. The chemical experiments on Chinese civilians, the rape of Nanking, the assasination of the last Korean emperor, this is all stuff that just doesn’t come into play in the books here.
    Contrast that with Germany. The first time I was there, in high school, I hadn’t been in town a week before my German hosts took me to visit Buchenwald. When I returned in college, easily half the classes in the “Deutsch als Fremdsprache” (German as a foreign language) section covered something relating to WW2.
    That’s the kind of contrition Korea and China are looking for (though both those countries have honesty problems of their own), and relations out here in East Asia won’t be completely normal until Japan swallows its pride and gets rid of this innocent-victim meme.


  11. Joe says:

    It’s easy to criticize Japan for historical whitewashing, but it’s a “crime” committed by every country in the world, including the United States. *Nobody* likes to tell the whole story of *any* war. It always gets distilled down to broad concepts of good and evil, and the appropriate graphic images of destruction (Americans remember Pearl Harbor; Japanese remember Hiroshima).


  12. Greg Diamond says:

    I haven’t been to Yasukuni, but I can say that the Hiroshima bomb memorial exhibits a similar sense of denial. While the descriptions of the horrors of the bombings are indisputable, the museums attempt at historical context is essentially “these mean people bombed us for no reason!”
    For Linkmeister: It’s not just museums and shrine’s like these that piss off the neighbors out here in East Asia. I teach in an elementary school outside of Narita, Japan. The history textbook my sixth graders use is pretty loaded too.


  13. Linkmeister says:

    “The museum seemed to me to be a spectacularly done exercise in historical denial about the matters that led up to World War II”
    Well, that explains why Japan’s neighbors are so infuriated by the PM’s visits to the place. In all the years I’ve been hearing about China/Korea’s anger at those visits, it’s never been explained like that. All I’ve heard (even from the BBC!) is something like “nine war criminals buried there,” which made it seem like the rest of Asia might be a little too sensitive.
    Your impression helps. Thanks.


  14. parrot says:

    In all politeness, can you remind us of what has been mislabelled at the museum? Anyone else have a website to go to that would go over the museum’s full faith assumption of Japanese National honor restored? I find it troubling for any culture, our own included that the stupidity of the past is not acknowledged in the present. It may not be immediately helpful but, in the longer struggle for sanity that humanity seems constantly fighting with itself, honesty of action and intention is the only likely way to present victory.


  15. Jaded says:

    “Soros felt it important to get a sense of the shrine and treatment of history” says Steve
    One desperately clings to hope Soros or anyone else appreciative of history would then think twice about leveling the irreplaceable, timeless mosques in peaceful Isfahan. What could be the point of smashing structures equivalent to the Pyramids? Exquisite mosaic structures pieced together from trillions of tiny particles of colored glass and tile that have withstood centuries and hold deep mysteries of sound and silence?


  16. Tim says:

    The most amazing part of the museum is the dolls given by women who promise to marry the kamikaze pilots etc in the next world. The visitors book is filled in by these now elderly ladies in traditional kimonos who wait politely in line to write extremely explicit (frankly porographic) account of what the are going to get up to once they are together with their intended. A truly weird experience.
    On the other hand the shrine and surrounding gardens are very beuatiful and the sight of groups of ex soldiers and sailors gathered under the cherry blossom drinking to their dead buddies was actually a bit moving and not at all about the glory of war


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