Monday, August 14, 2006

Every year, somebody writes it...

and every year, it's still wrong.

Mari Yamaguchi from AP, your moment in the sun:
Japan debates war shrine anew
Associated Press

TOKYO - Its name means ``peaceful nation,'' but the Yasukuni shrine to Japan's war dead generates a lot of rage. Asian neighbors attack it as a promoter of militarism, Japanese have filed a slew of lawsuits against official visits there, and the United States, Japan's main ally, finds its take on history disturbing.
I suppose you could call it the Curse of Nelson's. My ancient edition of Nelson's Dictionary defines ( 靖 ) as "peaceful". Mayhap the present edition still does.

If Yasukuni means "peaceful country " it means it in sort of the Pinochet-Chile/Assad-Syria sense--quiet, without conflict, but not exactly due to a outbreak of brotherly and sisterly love.

Perhaps the FCCJ and the Foreign Press Center could put out a little explainer note for the benefit of the newbies and the lazy:

"Yasukuni" does not mean "Peaceful Nation". It means "Pacified Nation" -- a conflicted land brought under control. The shrine was built to to house the agitated kami of the dead fighters of the Boshin War--as a preventative against those kami coming back to plague the imperial government from beyond the grave. It was named "Yasukuni" after the addition of the kami who died in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. (See Tenjin-sama and Kanda Daimyojin for other examples of this phenomenon.)

A Pacified Nation, not a Peaceful One.

Oh, but who the hell will care about semantics and philology, right?

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