Category Archives: History

Self Defeating Soft Power – Revisiting the ghost of Yasukuni

Only one step could have made conditions worse among Japan, China, and South Korea, with spillover effects on America. That is the step Japan’s prime minister has just taken.

 DEC 25 2013, 8:56 PM ET, The Atlantic

Main hall of Yasukuni Shrine, via Wikipedia.                 

At first I didn’t believe the news this evening that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe had visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. I didn’t believe it, because such a move would be guaranteed to make a delicate situation in East Asia far, far worse. So Abe wouldn’t actually do it, right?

It turns out that he has. For a Japanese leader to visit Yasukuni, in the midst of tensions with China, is not quite equivalent to a German chancellor visiting Auschwitz or Buchenwald in the midst of some disagreement with Israel. Or a white American politician visiting some lynching site knowing that the NAACP is watching. But it’s close. Continue reading

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