14 May 2007

Global Human Rights- A Stark Reminder

In Tokyo, just outside the school where I currently work, is the infamous war shrine visited every year by the emperor and other top Japanese officials on the anniversary of Japan's WWII defeat. It essentially houses internationally condemned war criminals from Japan's WWII campaign.

After having lived in China the previous year (perhaps the greatest victim of Japan's "expansion") the irony is not lost on me. Japan is considered one of the safest and most advanced countries of the modern world, yet in this quiet shrine, religion, politics, government and international relations all collide.

It represents a continued rift in the Asian world with China, Taiwan, South and North Korea protesting the enshrinement of class A war criminals as a subtle affirmation and blessing of Japan's aggressions. And while the shrine operates independently of the Japanese government, it is reminiscent of Japan's State Shinto, with the palace sending an official emmisary every year.

This is why we need global human rights organizations. The idea of impartiality protects us as humans without regard to the country to which we belong. Though Japan has reject militarization and done so much on behalf of environmental issues, the shrine is a reminder that any country can become an aggressor. And any one of us could be the target.

No comments: