Comment on Visit of Prime Minister to Yasukuni Shrine
Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan, visited Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, 2006, the anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II, following through on his campaign pledge. Under the circumstances widely reported in the media, he used his official car as transportation, had the Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister accompany him, signed the Yasukuni guest book as "Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi" and paid for floral tributes. Considering these facts, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) must regard this visit as an official visit he made as the Prime Minister.
The state’s nationalization of the Shintoizm of Yasukuni Shrine played an important role in supporting militarism during the last world war and led to the ravages of the war. The Japanese people learned from this experience and established the Constitution of Japan which upholds the principle of separation between state and religion as a systemic safeguard as well as supports pacifism. By establishing the Constitution, Yasukuni Shrine was removed from the state’s administrative control, lost special privileges afforded it and became one of religious institutions.
The principle of separation between state and religion stipulated in the latter part of paragraph 1 of Article 20, paragraph 3 of Article 20, and the former part of Article 89 of the Constitution requires an exacting separation between the affairs of state and religion and should be strictly observed. Visits by the Prime Minister, who is the chief of state affairs, in his official capacity to Yasukuni Shrine, which is a religious institution, has the effect of supporting, encouraging, and promoting the shrine. It obviously violates paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Constitution prohibiting religious activities by the state.
The Prime Minister is obliged to respect and uphold the Constitution as imposed by Article 99 of the Constitution. The Prime Minister shall observe the Constitution in upholding the principles of separation between state and religion and make his utmost efforts to implement the Constitution. It goes against the principle of separation between state and religion and infringes the constitutional obligations mentioned above if the Prime Minister, the chief of state affairs, visits Yasukuni Shrine in his official capacity.
The JFBA has consistently requested that the Prime Minister refrain from officially visiting Yasukuni Shrine by pointing out the above-mentioned constitutional problems concerning his visits. The JFBA extremely regrets that Prime Minister Koizumi officially visited Yasukuni Shrine today despite our continuous requests.
Therefore, the JFBA, an organization of lawyers who stand for protecting the Constitution, again strongly requests that any person who holds the position of Prime Minister never conduct activities which could be censured for violation of the Constitution.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
August 15, 2006