The Japanese Prime Minister's Visits to the Yasukuni Shrine Analyzed Under Articles 20 and 89 of the Japanese Constitution
18 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2015
Date Written: 2014
The focus of this essay is specifically on visits by the Prime Minister of Japan to the Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to the Kami (spirits) enshrined there, but the analysis may be applicable to visits by other government officials. The analysis would also apply to visits by the Prime Minister and other government officials to other religious sites if those visits also have the religious elements that visits to the Yasukuni Shrine have. This article does not address the involuntary enshrinement of the spirits of people, even when the government tacitly aided the shrine in gaining the information necessary to determine whom to enshrine. This issue, while exceptionally important, is well beyond the limited scope of this essay.
Part I of this essay will briefly set forth the history and cultural meaning of the Yasukuni Shrine and visits by the Prime Minister to the Shrine. Part II will discuss the current state of the law relating to Articles 20 and 89 of the Japanese Constitution, which address freedom of religion. Part III will look specifically at the legal implications of visits by the Prime Minister to the Yasukuni Shrine in light of the information discussed in Parts I and II, as well as court cases in Japan that have directly addressed the issue.
Keywords: Japan, Yasukuni Shrine, Constitutional Law, Comparative Law
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