Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Masaharu Gotoda on Official Visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the Prime Minister and Other State Ministers on August 15 of this year

August 14, 1986

  1. On August 15, 1985, the "day to express mourning to the war dead and pray for peace," which was a milestone in history as the fortieth anniversary of the end of the war, the Prime Minister made a so-called official visit to Yasukuni Shrine together with like-minded Ministers, in response to the strong requests of the people and bereaved families over many years. The objective was to mourn for the people in general who became the victims of war for the sake of their homeland and their comrades and to renew Japan's determination for peace of Japan and the world. It was unrelated to any individual deities enshrined at Yasukuni. The related statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary on August 14, 1985, remains true today, and there has been no change at all in the Government's opinion expressed in that statement.
  2. However, for such reasons as the enshrinement of the so-called "class-A war criminals" at Yasukuni Shrine, criticism on the official visit last year has been raised by the peoples of neighboring countries who experienced tremendous suffering and damage as a result of Japan's acts in the past, questioning whether the Ministers worshipped these "class-A war criminals" who were responsible for such acts of Japan. In addition, it is even possible that they come to misunderstand and mistrust Japan's remorse on the past war and the determination for peace and friendship which were expressed on various occasions. This would not be either the interest of Japan, which hopes to promote friendship with other nations, or the ultimate wish of the war dead.
  3. It is a matter of course for politicians to respect the feelings of the people and bereaved families, who wish for the implementation of official visits, is a natural responsibility of politicians. On the other hand, considering that Japan, as a pacifist state, should be more heavily responsible for the peace and prosperity of the international community, it is necessary to place importance on international relations and give due consideration to national sentiments of neighboring countries.
  4. As a result of a comprehensive consideration about these circumstances and a careful and independent examination, the Government has decided that the Prime Minister will refrain from making an official visit to Yasukuni Shrine tomorrow, August 15.
  5. As I have repeatedly made clear, since the official visit has not been an institutionalized practice, whether it should be conducted or not should be judged on each occasion. It is thus natural that this decision itself does not deny or abolish official visits themselves. The Government intends to maintain good international relations and to continue to make its maximum effort to improve the situation.

    Regarding official visits by other Ministers, I think that each Minister will make an appropriate decision after giving due consideration to the points that I have mentioned above.


Back to Index