Yasukuni, the War Dead and the Struggle for Japan's Past

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John Breen
Columbia University Press, 2008 - History - 202 pages
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Located in the heart of Tokyo, Yasukuni is a controversial shrine dedicated to the Japanese war dead. It holds the remains of twelve convicted and two suspected Class A war criminals, and its museum features an account of Japan's involvement in the Second World War that many would describe as revisionist. Visits to Yasukuni by cabinet members often spark protests in Japan and abroad, especially in China, Korea, and Taiwan, and the shrine's existence continues to foster a sense of mistrust between the Chinese and Japanese governments. As the first authoritative volume in English on Yasukuni, John Breen has edited a book that neither commends nor condemns the monument. Instead it renders more complex an issue that, in the media at least, has been portrayed in starkly simplistic terms. Breen presents authoritative yet divergent views on the shrine and its place in postwar Japanese diplomacy, ideology, and history. Critical contributions are written by leading Yasukuni and anti-Yasukuni Japanese intellectuals, as well as Chinese and Western commentators. Yasukuni is a provocative symbol of Japan's nationalist past.With this book, English-speaking readers can now access a full portrait of the shrine's significance and its unique position in the highly contested history of Japan.

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About the author (2008)

John Breen is senior lecturer in Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. With Mark Teeuwen, he has coedited Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami and coauthored A Brief History of Shinto.

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