Right-wing activist commits suicide in front of Japanese parliament

5 March, 2008

 Imperial Japanese WWII-era propaganda poster

A suspected right-wing activist arrived at the Japanese parliament building by taxi, got out and shot himself this morning, in an apparent protest against Japan’s warming ties with China.

Police discovered two letters on the dead man’s body: one addressed to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and one to the Japanese media.

Fukuda is known for his willingness to forge stronger links with near-neighbour China, and his refusal to visit Yasukuni, a shrine dedicated to Japan’s war dead. Prime Ministerial visits to Yasukuni are a particularly sensitive issue for Chinese and Koreans, as 12 convicted World War II class A war criminals are enshrined there.

For the right-wing nationalists (uyoku), Yasukuni remains a rallying point and symbol of Japan’s imperial past, despite former Emperor Hirohito’s to visit the shrine from 1978 until his death because of the enshrinement of war criminals. The current Emperor, Akihito, has never visited Yasukuni.

(See Wikipedia’s pages on Yasukuni Shrine and  Japanese nationalism for history and background information to supplement this story.)

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