From the Sankei Shimbun of August 18:
On Sunday, Katō Ryōzō began his 2124th day as Ambassador to Washington, making him the longest-serving Ambassador to the United States in the post-1945 era.
With the humiliating unanimous House vote for passage of House Resolution 121 last month--this despite the Ambassador's very visible and energetic lobbying against the measure--can Katō come home now, or does he have to stay on and take a make-up year?
From the Mainichi Shimbun of August 18:
The number of persons paying their respects at Yasukuni Shrine in on August 15, 2006 = 250,000
Number paying their respects on August 15, 2007 = 165,000.
The Mainichi posits a relationship between the 33% drop in the numbers of attendees and the recent intense heat. While the weather was likely a factor in keeping down the number of visiting ojiisan and the obaasan legions, I would hazard a guess that the countdown to Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichirō's visit last year and the near-certainty of an Abe no-show this year were more important determinants of crowd numbers.
Koizumi showed that a PM could go the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, if willing to face China's wrath over the issue. Now that it the point has been proven, and Japanese hurt national pride mended, Yasukuni may be less a national issue and more an obsession of a recalcitrant, recidivist fringe with an occasional penchant for silly cosplay.