Friday, September 30, 2005

Church, State and Privacy in Japan

All one can say to this article about Japan's impending post office privatization is that the people are people everywhere. Read and enjoy. This article is courtesy of the Daily Mainichi Newspaper.

However, on a more serious side, the Japanese High Court has ruled Prime Minister Koizumi's annual pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社) unconstitutional on the grounds that it is a religious activity and that the Constitution forbids to the government on grounds of separation of Church and State.

These pilgrimages have been a constant for Japanese Prime Minister's for at least the last thirty or forty years, though they have been increasingly controversial, even inside Japan. The Court did, however, leave open the door for him to continue visiting if he clearly states that it is in a personal capacity.

Personally, I think that this is pussyfooting around the real issue. Should Japan's Prime Minister be allowed to pay visits to the shrine where Japan's war dead are memorialized? Yes. Should fourteen Class A war criminals from WWII be enshrined there (which is the real root of the controversy)? Probably not. However, as the shrine refuses to allow their removal, there seems to be no easy resolution to this problem. Perhaps only a true and full Japanese admission for their many atrocities during the Second World War (which they call the Pacific War) would really answer the critics.

On a side note, how long will it be before the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State or some other left-wing group manages to convince an activist judge somewhere (along the lines of the out-of-control judge who recently declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional) to use this decision as a precedent to bar the President from visiting the National Cathedral? Or maybe even swearing to uphold the Constitution 'so help me, God'?

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