TOKYO – The left-wing group Anti-Emperor Activities Network said this week that it will once again hold a protest march near the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on August 15th, the anniversary of the conclusion of World War II.
The group, which takes a firm anti-war stance, will provide an opposing view to the nationalist celebrations that take place on that day at the central Tokyo shrine, said the group’s representative, Tomoyuki Nomura.
“On this day, many events are held, such as memorial rites for the war dead,” said Nomura in an email dispatch to The Tokyo Reporter. “Most of them glorify the Emperor system and old Japanese military traditions. Yasukuni has become an important symbol for those who support these political points of view.”
Originally constructed as Shokonsha in 1869 by the Meiji Emperor, Yasukuni memorializes around 2.5 million airmen, soldiers, and seamen, many of whom were inspired by the belief that their spirit would be enshrined should they die in battle while fighting bravely for the Emperor. It also memorializes 14 Class-A war criminals, among them is wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.
Similar to last year, the protest group of roughly 150 members plans to depart Nishi Kanda Park in Chiyoda Ward. The march will then move down Yasukuni-dori and toward the gates of the shrine.
One year ago, the demonstration was hampered by hundreds of members of uyoku (right-wing) groups. Assisted by their large black buses, from which military music and nationalist messages are blasted at ear-splitting volumes, the uyoku members violently hassled and threatened the protesters.
Though hundreds of police provided a line of defense, Nomura feels that they are of little assistance against the uyoku.
“The police has a large enough budget, equipment, and staff to repress the organized violence of the right-wing groups but they never execute that. The police waits for us to retaliate or protect ourselves when the right-wing sets upon us. In that way, they can propagandize that the ‘left-wing is armed and attacking.’”
Nomura, however, will not be intimidated. He said his group will maintain its protest plans no matter the circumstances. “We will make it happen,” he said.
Note: Nishi Kanda Park can be accessed via subway Jimbocho station (exit A1 or A2) or subway Kudanshita station (exit 5 or 6). The demonstration starts at 2:30 p.m.