The Yasukuni Shrine Conundrum: Japan’s Contested Identity and Memory

  • Mike M. Mochizuki
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)


For most countries, remembering and mourning the war dead is natural and uncontroversial. In Japan, however, how to venerate those who lost their lives fighting in wars has been contentious because of the Yasukuni Shrine issue. During the pre-1945 period, the shrine was the central military institution for honouring the war dead; in the post-World War II era, it became a key symbol in the passionate conflict over historical memory and national identity. The dispute was especially intense in 2001–2006, when Prime Minister Koizumi Junichirō made annual visits to the shrine despite protests from Japan’s neighbouring countries as well as significant segments of Japanese society. After Koizumi stepped down as prime minister, the controversy subsided because his successors have so far refrained from making the Yasukuni pilgrimages. Nevertheless, the Yasukuni problem and the question of how to mourn the war dead remain unresolved in Japan.


Prime Minister Liberal Democratic Party Historical Memory Yasukuni Shrine State Patronage 
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© Mike M. Mochizuki 2010

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  • Mike M. Mochizuki

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