Mr. Junichiro Koizumi
August 10, 2001
We request that you call off your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine on August 15.
Dear Prime Minister Koizumi:
We understand that you are busy with state affairs these days.
On behalf of Christian world in Japan, we request that you not pay an official visit to the Religious Corporate, Yasukuni Shrine on August 15. Yasukuni Shrine was protected by the nation as State Shinto until the end of the Asia Pacific War and served as the spiritual foundation for the Emperor's military forces sent to invade the countries in Asia and Pacific; Yasukuni enshrined war dead as "spirits" for their devotion to the Emperor. The State, on the basis of State Shinto, forced not only Japanese people but also other people in Asia to bow towards the Imperial Palace and worship at Shinto shrines, depriving them of their rights of freedom of religion and conscience. Reflecting deeply upon this past history, it was Article 20 of the Constitution, which stipulated the separation of religion and the state, ensured freedom of religion, and prohibited the interference or the protection of any particular religion by the state. The Article 89 also prohibits the use of public money for a religious institution.
Whatever the reasons and feelings may be for visiting the Shrine, if you, a high political leader of the nation, pay a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, it will definitely be an act of political interference in a particular religion (Religious Corporate, Yasukuni Shrine) and an act of violation against freedom of other religions including Christianity. We adamantly believe that your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine is a critical issue which relates to our freedom of religion. We also fear, taking this opportunity, that voices to uphold the Yasukuni Shrine by the State will increase more and will continue to gain more momentum. There have been strong voices of protest raised against your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine from neighboring countries such as China and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) which suffered greatly during the war. It is said that the person who slapped will easily forget what he did but the person who was slapped will never forget the pain. The relationship between Japan and Asia will exactly apply to this proverb. Your planned visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrined those who were responsible to promote the war of invasion into Asia, will result in slapping again people in Asia. "The Prime Minister respects Japanese Constitution and owes a duty to defend the constitution " (Article 99). We believe that you should not pay a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, in order for Japan to gain trust as a peace loving country from other Asian countries. We sincerely request that you give up the idea of paying a visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
BP Goro Matsuura (Bishop in charge, Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace)
Rev. Tadashi Tsutada (President, Japan Evangelical Association)
Ms. Reiko Suzuki (Moderator, National Christian Council in Japan)
Rev. Seishi Ojima (Moderator, United Church of Christ in Japan)
Rev. Junichiro Furumoto (Primate, Anglican Church of Japan)
Rev. Jun Koizumi (President, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church)
Rev. Eiji Ando (President, Japan Baptist Convention)
Rev. Kunihiko Amano (President, Japan Baptist Union)
Rev. Kim Duk-Hwa (Moderator, Korean Christian Church in Japan)
Rev. Yoshinobu Kubo (Moderator, Church of Christ in Japan)
Rev. Shizuo Ono (Moderator, Reformed Church in Japan)
Ms. Keiko Aoki (President, National YWCA of Japan)
Ms. Kikue Takahashi (President, Japan Women's Temperance Union)
Dr. Kenji Hara (Chairman, Executive Committee, Japan Christian Medical Association)