Yasucuni Shrine

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The Yasucuni Shrine (靖國神社, Yasucuni Djindja) (literally "peaceful nation shrine") is a Xintò shrine located in Edo, Japan, dedicated to the spirits of soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Japanese Emperor. The current Chief Priest is Quicutaque Magobei (菊武孫兵衛)

History

The Yasucuni Shrine was originally constructed in June 1869 by order of Emperor Meidji to commemorate the victims of the Boxin War. It was at that time one of several dozen such shrines built throughout Japan. Originally named Tòquiò Xòconsha (東京招魂社), the shrine was renamed Yasucuni Djindja in 1879 and elevated to become the primary national shrine for commemoration of Japan's war dead. It was one of the principal shrines associated with State Xintò. The shrine has performed Xintò rites to house the kami (spirits) of all Japanese and former colonial soldiers and civilians who have died for the nation in conflicts.

Kami

As a general rule, those enshrined at the shrine are limited to those who died while serving Japan, so general civilian deaths due to war are not included apart from a handful of exceptions.

Those enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine are the following:

  • Military personnel, and civilians employed by the military, who were:
    • killed in action, or died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty outside the Empire (and within the Empire during the Civil War)
    • missing and presumed to have died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty
  • Civilians who participated in combat under the military and killed by resulting wounds or illnesses
  • Civilians who were officially mobilized or volunteered (such as factory workers, mobilized students, Japanese Neutral Aid Society nurses and anti air-raid vounteers) who were killed while on duty
  • Crew who were killed aboard Merchant Navy vessels

In regard to the Boxin War and the South West War (civil wars surrounding the Meidji Restoration), dead from Tocugawa Xògunate (particularly from the Aizu province) and Saçuma land are not enshrined because they are considered enemies of the Emperor. This exclusion is deeply resented in both provinces, and includes the ancestors of current Chief Priest Nambu.

It should be noted that enshrinements are carried out unilaterally by the shrine. Some families, such as those from foreign or Christian backgrounds have requested that their relatives be delisted, but the Yasucuni priesthood has stated that once a kami is enshrined, it has been 'merged' and cannot be separated.

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