Note reveals Hirohito was against war criminals at Yasukuni
By Channel NewsAsia's Japan Bureau Chief Michiyo Ishida | Posted: 20 July 2006 1844 hrs
TOKYO : The first proof has surfaced to show that Japan's wartime emperor was against enshrining the country's top war criminals at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.
His view was recorded in a note written by a top palace official and obtained by a leading Japanese newspaper, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
A voice from the past is dominating news headlines in Japan.
It states that Emperor Hirohito, who ruled during World War II, was displeased that 14 Class A criminals were secretly enshrined at the Yasukuni shrine.
Emperor Hirohito visited the Yasukuni shrine eight times, according to reports, but he had stopped visiting since it was reported Class A criminal were honoured here.
He never explained why, but there had been speculation; now, there is evidence to support what historians have suspected for decades.
The late Grand Steward recorded that Emperor Hirohito criticised the shrine's head priest, Nagayoshi Matsudaira, for honouring top war criminals in 1978, three years after the ruler's last pilgrimage.
He noted that Emperor Hirohito declared that Matsudaira did not understand peace, unlike his father, who was head priest before him.
A scholar who has written about the emperor's role in World War II supports the monarch, who had been in danger of being executed as a war criminal himself.
Said Daisaburo Hashizume, Professor of Sociology at Tokyo Institute of Technology, "I think the memo shows his perfect loyalty and understanding of our current constitution. Our constitution regulates perfect separation of politics and the position of the emperor, so he restrained (himself) from any involvement in any political issues."
The Japanese public, however, is divided over the revelation.
"Executed criminals should be kept apart. Separate Class A criminals from the others," one man said.
"I understand the emperor's feelings but my brother died in the war, so it's a complex issue," a woman said.
"I often walk through Yasukuni, but I've never prayed here. I don't really care about it but the biggest problem is that it has caused a rift between Japan and other countries," another Japanese man said.
South Korea and China, victims of Japan's wartime atrocities, have objected strongly to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to the shrine.
But Mr Koizumi has continued his visits, as well as turned down calls for a separate shrine for Class A war criminals.
Political observers hope this disclosure will add weight to the movement to either shift the war criminals out, or shift all other war dead to a new shrine. - CNA /ct
私は 或る時に、Ａ級が合祀されその上 松岡、白取までもが、
松平の子の今の宮司がどう考えたのか 易々と 松平は 平和に強い考があったと思うのに 親の心子知らずと思っている
だから 私あれ以来参拝していない それが私の心だ
（共同通信） - 7月20日20時26分更新