Every year August 15th rolls around, and politicians flock in droves to Yasukuni. Why? Does it serve any useful purpose, other than to piss everyone off both domestically and abroad, and give more fodder to the people who worry that Japan was a big, bad aggressor once, so they might do it again? I could understand if they were trying to do a show of contriteness -- a kind of "we're sorry about the war that caused you all to be dead". But choosing this date in particular makes the gesture seem more like an international slap in the face, a sort of "ha, ha, you only think we're sorry but we actually had our fingers crossed so we didn't really mean it." These people disturb me.
Isahara, the mayor of Tokyo, disturbs me even more. There is a separate article on his visit to Yasukuni here. He makes no bones about what he's doing -- his anti-foreigner message seems pretty clear to me. I sometimes wonder how much of his rhetoric is because he's really sincere, and how much of it is because it generates controversy (and hence media time) for him. The flamboyant way he goes about his business makes it almost seem more like the latter.
For the final in one of my Japanese government classes I had to respond to an essay question stating the reasons for and against the re-militarization of Japan. In the course of the essay, I came to the conclusion that the reasons against were all rather emotional, and not terribly logical, while the reasons for all seemed to have very solid, reasonable thought behind them. But behavior like this on the part of Japan's top lawmakers makes me wonder if the knee-jerk emotional reaction might not be more reasonable than it seems.