Similar to places in other parts of the world, Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine is a place dedicated to the memory of those who died fighting for their country, with its current Symbolic Registry of Divinities listing the names of some 2,466,000 enshrined men and women.
The problem with Yasukuni, however, is that included in that number are 1,068 Class-B and Class-C war criminals, plus, even more controversially, 14 suspected Class-A criminals. A situation that not surprisingly makes the shrine a political issue in Japan itself, and a far bigger problem when it comes to the country’s already fractious relations with its Asian neighbours — especially so when top ranked politicians, whether in an official or unofficial capacity, make high profile visits to pay their respects to those enshrined there.
And yet that said, on most occasions, Yasukuni is a peaceful place, with the only activity being a relatively steady stream of generally older visitors. People who are quite possibly there to offer prayers to family members or fallen comrades.
But on politically sensitive days, or those with national significance, it can be a very different place indeed, as it’s the destination of choice for Japan’s black truck-borne, uniform-clad, nationalists. Like on Friday for example, as it was National Foundation Day. Photographs of which, without any further comment from me, are posted below.