A reader, in whose presence I quake, sends an email:
You praised Patrick Smith for his article on Yasukuni but Smith wrote that Japan was about to face up to its Yasukuni problem.
The Yomiuri on page 2 of its Aug. 9 morning edition carried the results of a poll it took about the Yasukuni issue.
After examining the poll results, to the contrary of Mr. Smith, I noticed, with a bit of surprise, that even after the comment by the Emperor Showa not visiting Yasukuni because of the enshrining of the 14 war criminals, public opinion remains hopelessly divided.
The Yomiuri poll showed that the COMBINATION of "support" (for Yasukuni visits by the next prime minister) and "dochira ka to ieba, support) amounts to only 40.4%, compared with the opposite combination of "oppose" and "dochira ka to ieba, oppose) of 50.3%
[NOTE: "Dochira ka to ieba" means "If I have to say one or the other."]
If you eliminate the "dochira ka to ieba" Japanese who can't bring themselves to express a clear opinion, you're left with just 22.2% on the "sansei" (support) side, 30.1% on the "hantai" (opposed) side and 47.8% who are biting their fingernails or haven't thought enough about the issue to answer the question.
It's enough to make you want to sympathize with the leaders of Japan! With nearly half the people unable to enunciate a clear opinion, I find it hard to believe Japan is about to face up to the problem of Yasukuni.
In raw figures, the answers to the question about support or opposition to visits by the next prime minister were:
dochira ka 18.2%
dochira ka 20.2%
"no reply" 9.4%
If you look at the 9.4% of those polled who had no answer and take away the 38.4% whose replies only expressed an inclination (not a commitment), you wind up with only 22.2% supporting visits by the next prime minister and 30.1% opposing them.
Straight support or opposition 52.3%
"Dochira ka" (on both sides) plus "no reply" 47.8%
In support of my erudite reader's argument, I reproduce below, in jpeg format, the image of the Yomiuri Shimbun poll cited.
Just click on the image for an enlarged view in a new window.