By Rhea Grover
Edited by Madhavi Roy, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
People all over the world marvel at Japan’s dedication and spirit, so much so that we have Hindi chapters urging Indians to be more like the Japanese. Japan’s ability to pick itself up to great heights every time it falls is renowned, but what is known to a only a few though is Japan’s ability to steer clear from any international controversy, finding its place in everyone’s good books and garnering allies from all across the globe. Japan has always compromised its political superiority to maintain its economic superiority and with ‘Abenomics’, it’s unstoppable in its path to become an economic superpower.
Now that we have a little background on where it’s situated, let’s see what the Yasukuni Shrine is. It commemorates the Imperial forces in Japan during World War II. So what’s the problem? The problem arose when the shrine was supposed to include the names of the soldiers who committed atrocious war crimes by raping women in the entire village of Nanking, and even killed thousands of civilians. This is the worst of the worst war crimes seen till today and is seen as being akin to Hitler’s anti-semitic politics.
In the light of the above information, the question of enshrining the perpetrators of such grave atrocities is something that doesn’t go down one’s throat. In a way it goes against everything that today’s peaceful Japan stands for. An act as heinous as rape is looked down at by the entire Japanese society, and is completely antithetical to the ideals of equality and non-violence enlisted in the Japanese constitution. The whole purpose of an enshrinement is to take pride in the acts of the soldiers of the nation and when such shameful acts are committed by the soldiers themselves, there really remains no point.
But if you look a little deeper, you will realize that at the end of the day, the soldiers only did what was ordered, what was considered to be in the ‘best interest’ of their nation at the time. It was a time of immense struggle and it culminated into the biggest disaster that Japan has ever seen, which lead to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the end of the day, they were just soldiers who gave their life for their country and displayed exemplary valour in times of war.
This brings two questions in my mind. First, whose fault is it actually? Second, where do you draw the line as to what is legit in a war? These are extremely mind boggling questions that disturb me deeply, because at the end of the day no country can win a war without taking the lives of thousands, which is antithetical in itself.
The following poem by Siegfried Sassoon displays this irony in the best possible manner:
No doubt they’ll soon get well; the shock and strain
Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk.
Of course they’re ‘longing to go out again,’ –
These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk.
They’ll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed
Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died,-
Their dreams that drip with murder; and they’ll be proud
Of glorious war that shatter’d all their pride…
Men who went out to battle, grim and glad;
Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.
Rhea Grover is a commerce student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women who considers writing as an escape from her daunting course-work and often seeks outlets to express her routine reverie, obstinate opinions, tenacious thoughts and impromptu ideas. The idea of penning down her thoughts has always appealed to her and she believes it is a good get away from her mundane schedule filled with accounts classes and law books. She likes world politics, economics, mysteries and good food and dislikes people.