Of the four arch-revisionist Friends of Shinzo in the Cabinet -- Inada Tomomi, Shindo Yoshitaka, Furuya Keiji and Shimomura Hakubun -- all except Shimomura had paid their respects at Yasukuni. It took Inada a little bit longer to make the trip. However, she eventually made it, turning the event into a minor plug for her minor effort at organizing young reactionaries into a movement.
Until yesterday it seemed as though Shimomura, for all the horrible, authoritarian, illiberal nonsense he has sworn to inflict upon the primary-through-high-school education system, had the strategic sense to follow a less provocatively ideological line than the Terrible Trio.
Yesterday, Minister Shimomura stopped the seeming:
Minister reveals visit to Yasukuni Shrine(Link)
Education minister Hakubun Shimomura revealed Friday that he has visited war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo since he took office in December.
"I've already visited there [Yasukuni Shrine]. I have also visited as a minister," Shimomura said at a press conference. He did not explain when he visited the shrine or the style of prayer he made...
This revelation, on the heels of Aso Taro's brilliant attempt to convince an audience of revisionists to look to the undoing of the Weimar Republic, will do little to reassure folks outside of Japan that the barking mad within the Abe entourage are any less in lock-step than they were during the last Abe Cabinet.
As to the possibility of Shimomura's revelation of a clandestine visit's being a part of efforts to provide the proper atmospherics for an Abe climbdown on his vow to visit Yasukuni (Link) -- of that I would not be surprised. I would not be surprised if it turns out that Shimomura lied -- that he indeed has not paid his respects at Yasukuni since becoming a minister -- but was willing to say that he did in order to make it look as though the excursions into national pride malarkey the Abe administration can take are not as constrained by geo-politics and economics as they really are.
Later - Yes, I agree. Having the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology claiming he makes Yasukuni visits on the sly is not helpful to Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics.
Then again, given some of the illiberal governments of recent winners in the Olympics beauty pageant (Beijing 2008; Sochi 2014), having a lousy international reputation does not necessarily hurt one's standing among the Olympic villagers.