FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Poppy, the Yasukuni Shrine and Remembering 

Photo Source Ari Helminen | CC BY 2.0

It’s that time of year again–when the British remember those who have died fighting for Britain in modern times. It’s a sinister spectacle. It’s in-your-face British militarism, at a time of in-your-face British war crimes. It’s a war dance. Red poppies are everywhere in the streets and media. What looks like symbolic blood is held up high and the British genuflect and chant. The dead and the half dead are on parade. They’re not protesting but celebrating killing and being killed for the queen. The promise is more war and more dead. And Britain loves it.

The rest of the world doesn’t have a say. Targets rarely do. However there’s a parallel out there which is instructive. And could possibly shame and even reverse Britain’s religion of war. The parallel case is Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine.

In the middle of Tokyo, a few hundred meters from the imperial palace, there’s a discreet and aesthetically pleasing shinto temple dedicated to those who died fighting for the Japanese emperor between the years 1867-1951: the Yasukuni Shrine. It operates under the radar screen most of the time. But in the last two decades it hit the headlines when Japan’s neoliberal leaders (Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe) began to visit and otherwise connect with the shrine. It was and is an open display of solidarity with imperial Japan’s war dead.

Japan’s New Right don’t wear poppies like their British counterparts but their message is the same: it’s great to kill and die for the Empire. Unlike the British, however, the Japanese aren’t getting off scot-free with this blatant act of revisionism. The victims of Japanese imperialism protested against this in-your-face embrace of the Yasukuni Shrine. And Japan’s born again imperialists had to back off. In no uncertain terms, China and the two Koreas opposed this new Japanese attitude towards Japan’s old wars. The past and present victims of British imperialism should do likewise.

And before someone objects to the association of British wars and Japanese wars – compare Britain’s present military campaign in the Middle East with Japan’s old military campaign on mainland Asia. Like Japan’s actions in Asia (starting with Korea – 1905) Britain’s actions in Asia (starting with Afghanistan – 2001) are rolling affairs, involving one war of aggression after another. Moreover, the end point of Japan’s past invasions was World War. Similarly, the end point of Britain’s present invasions looks more and more like World War.

The difference today is that Japan’s victims make Japan feel shame and guilt, whereas Britain’s victims do not or cannot. Japan’s New Right (Shinzo Abe, etc.) hesitates before pursuing policies that recall the wars of the past. China and the Koreas will never let them forget. Britain, on the other hand, forgets everything – even though it says that it is remembering everything. And so it blindly pursues war, again and again.

Before it is too late. Before the next British world war kicks off for real – Britain’s victims should follow the example of the Chinese and Koreans. And force a real remembrance upon the guilty Empire. Ireland and India, for example, could start the process. And they could continue it by speaking up on behalf of the voiceless Afghanis and Arabs.

Alas – who are we kidding – the victors write history, while the vanquished live history. Maybe Britain will only remember its victims when it is vanquished.

 

More articles by:

Aidan O’Brien lives in Dublin, Ireland.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 17, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Anti-BDS Laws Violate Our Freedom
John Horning
NEPA is Our National Defense System

Evelyn Leopold
How the UN’s Middle East Peace Plan Was Trounced by Its Own Members
Stephen Cooper
“Just Mercy” and Justice Don’t Exist in Alabama
Patrick Cockburn
Sinn Fein’s Victory is Ireland’s ‘Brexit Moment’ When Left-Out Voters Turn on the Elite
Ralph Nader
“Democratic Socialism” – Bring it on Corporate Socialists!
Phillip Doe
Every Day’s a Holiday for the Oil Business in Colorado
Binoy Kampmark
Fashion Fetishism, Surgical Masks and Coronavirus
Cesar Chelala
The Democrats’ New Chapter
Robert Koehler
The Wall: Separating Democracy From Voters
Peter Cohen
Time to Retire the “He Can’t Beat Trump” Trope
Sr. Kathleen Erickson
Lessons From Ministering on the Border
Alvaro Huerta
Another Five Lessons for Democrats to Defeat Trump in 2020
Wim Laven
Donald Trump’s Plan for America: Make it Ignorant
Christopher Brauchli
You Tube’s Trump Predicament
Steve Klinger
Trump Shoots Romney at Prayer Breakfast; GOP Shrugs
Elliot Sperber
Ode to the City Bus 
James Haught
Megachurch Mess
Weekend Edition
February 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete
Bruce E. Levine
“Sublime Madness”: Anarchists, Psychiatric Survivors, Emma Goldman & Harriet Tubman
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack
Jennifer Matsui
The Doomsday Cuckoo Clock
Paul Street
Things Said in Confidence to 4000 Close Friends This Week
Jonathan Cook
Even With Corbyn Gone, Antisemitism Threats Will Keep Destroying the UK Labour Party
Thomas Klikauer
Cambridge Analytica: a Salesgirl’s Report
Joseph Natoli
Vichy Democrats vs. the Master Voice
David Rosen
Sanders vs. the Establishment Democrats: McGovern All Over Again?
Louis Proyect
Marx, Lincoln and Project 1619
Robert Hunziker
Amazon Onslaught
Russell Mokhiber
NPR and the Escalating Attack on Single-Payer Health Care
Ramzy Baroud
Breaking with Washington: Arabs and Muslims Must Take a United Stance for Palestine
Mike Miller
Race and Class: Overcoming the Divides
Michael Brennan
Timeline: How the DNC Manipulated 2016 Presidential Race 
Jacob G. Hornberger
U. S. Lies and Deaths in Afghanistan
Rev. William Alberts
Trump Served Up Projection at the National Prayer Breakfast
Nick Pemberton
The Overwhelming Sex Appeal Of Bernie Sanders
David Swanson
Why This Election Is Different
Dan Bacher
Western States Petroleum Association Tops CA Lobbying Expenses with $8.8 Million Spent in 2019
Christopher Ketcham
The Medium Warps the Message Straight to Our Extinction
Erik Molvar
Trump’s Gutting of NEPA Will Cut the Public Out of Public Lands Decisions
William Kaufman
Tulsi Gabbard: A Political Postmortem
Colin Todhunter
Menace on the Menu in Post-EU Britain
Gregory Elich
Mnangagwa’s Neoliberal Assault on the Zimbabwean People
Ron Jacobs
The Lies of Industry and the Liars Who Sell Them
Binoy Kampmark
Subverting the Blacklist: Kirk Douglas’s Modest Contribution
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail