Chinese demonstrations hastily manipulated by Beijing
central hard liners. Media adore it... without
carefully looking at PRC humanitarian poor records,
A euphemism is a word or phrase used in place of a term
that originally could not be spoken aloud or, by
extension, terms which the speaker considers to be
disagreeable or offensive. "Euphemism" derives from
Greek words "well" + "speaking," words that in an
ancient Greek context enjoined the "right silence" that
suited some religious topics. Examples of the original
religious taboo embodied in a eupheme are unspeakable
names for a deity, such as Persephone, Hecate, Nemesis
or Yahweh. Rumpole of the Bailey speaks of his wife
only as "She Who Must Be Obeyed".
When a phrase is used as a euphemism, it becomes a
metaphor whose literal meaning is often dropped.
Euphemisms are also used to hide unpleasant ideas, even
when the literal term for them is not necessarily
offensive. This type of euphemism is used in public
relations and politics, where it is known as
The converse of a euphemism is a dyslogism, literally a
Back to our story.
The Telegraph: "The cherry blossom is reaching the peak
of its splendour in Tokyo, and the gardens of the
Yasukuni shrine have been turned into cheerful festival
ground, with a pink stage for musicians and rows of
stalls selling anything from food to potted plants.
But for millions of people across Asia, Yasukuni stands
for something more sinister than love of botany: it is
the supreme symbol of Japan's former love of war.
Sixty years after the Second World War, the wounds may
have healed in Europe, but they remain all too raw in
In recent days China and South Korea have been in uproar
over the publication of new Japanese textbooks which,
they say, justify the militarism of the Japanese empire
and its aggression during the Second World War. The
books are accused of glossing over atrocities committed
by Japanese troops in the region.
Amid calls in China for a boycott of Japanese imports,
and sporadic mob attacks on Japanese stores, diplomats
in Tokyo warned Chinese citizens to stay away from large
anti-Japanese protests planned in Beijing today.
China has accused Tokyo of spreading "poison for Japan's
future generations", while South Korea has warned Tokyo
that "our people are greatly enraged".
The refurbished military museum at Yasukuni does nothing
to dispel the impression that Japan has not fully atoned
for the past.
The main hall displays an Ohka or "Cherry Blossom", the
rocket-powered glider-bombs that kamikaze pilots flew
into American warships and a "Kaiten" suicide torpedo.
Display cabinets show letters written by the suicide
pilots vowing to "meet again at Yasukuni", a flag with
the Rising Sun painted in the blood of Japanese
schoolgirls, and a section of wall with a message
written in the blood of suicide motorboat crews
declaring: "Even though we were defeated in war, in our
spirit we have not been defeated."
Historical panels describe how Japan sought peace and
had "no choice" but to go to war to avoid being
strangled by an American-inspired economic embargo.
Although Japan lost, the display explains that Japan
kindled the spirit of independence among other Asian
people who later cast off their European colonial
There is little recognition that Japan colonised Asian
lands, often brutally; no acknowledgement of massacres
carried out by Japanese troops and the enslavement of
"comfort women" as prostitutes.
The spirits of 2.46 million people who died in Japan's
wars in the service of the Chrysanthemum Throne since
1853 are enshrined at Yasukuni. In 1978, the spirits of
14 "Class A" war criminals, including the wartime prime
minister Hideki Tojo, were among those "called" to the
shrine. Yasukuni's website bemoans the fact that more
than 1,000 martyrs "were cruelly and unjustly tried as
war criminals by a sham-like tribunal of the Allied
This unabashed nationalism has been given respectability
by Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has
pointedly made annual visits to Yasukuni since his
election in 2001 despite denunciations from China and
Taiwan, which was also colonised by Japan, has
traditionally made less fuss. But this week there were
protests against a visit by a Taiwanese member of
parliament to Yasukuni, ostensibly to honour 28,0000
Taiwanese enshrined there.
The outcry over Japanese school textbooks is only the
latest issue to plague Japan's relations with its
neighbours. Territorial disputes over far-flung islands
are a constant source of tension with Russia, China and
Officials in Tokyo maintain that Japan has repeatedly
apologised for its past misdeeds, and has offered
generous development aid and investments in lieu of
"reparations". For them the problem is not Japanese
militarism or lack of repentance, but "nationalism" and
bigotry that is being deliberately stoked by
neighbouring leaders to shore up their popular support.
"Japanese people are getting tired of 'apology
diplomacy'. If China puts pressure on Japan, the
Japanese just get angry," said Prof Ryosei Kokubun, an
expert on China at Tokyo's Keio University.
Alarmed by China's rapid re-armament, and a North Korean
missile test over Japan in 1998, Japan is shedding
another legacy of the Second World War, its doctrine of
It has stretched the war-renouncing Article Nine of its
constitution to the limit by sending Japanese forces to
help with humanitarian reconstruction in Iraq, where
British and Australian troops now provide security for
their former Japanese enemies.
The Japanese parliament is debating constitutional
amendments that would allow Japanese troops to take part
in United Nations-sponsored operations.
At Yasukuni's museum, visitors seemed ready for Japan to
resume a more "normal" military role.
Taguchi Ito, 31, said: "Japan should have nuclear
weapons because our neighbouring countries have them. We
need to be strong so that other countries do not attack
In today's Japan, the only country to have been attacked
with atomic weapons, even the nuclear taboo has started
to break down.
end of quotes.
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