Yasukuni shrine and Princess Mononoke
It is still controversial that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi keeps visiting Yasukuni Shrine. It's obvious that it draws protests from China and South Korea, but the purpose of his stubbornness is not understandable. You may wonder there's something more, so let me discuss two points from now.
1. What makes people support him? newspapers or TV? Neither do they!
Knowing his visit in Oct. 2005, Japanese mass media took it up as a big headline, broadcasted it as a live news, interrupting normal TV programs. On the contrary to your guess, Japan's mass media are VERY concerned that Koizumi visited the shrine.
Looks like almost all of the TVs and newspapers are the one who attempt to undermine Koizumi, except Sankei group. Most of the mass media are supported by companies venturing into China, and we have too many pacifists and Marxists in mass media. Obviously they don't like having a conflict with China.
It's a typical tug-of-war between Japanese press and silent majority.
2. The historical positioning of shrines
A friend of mine at work told me that major Chinese newspapers write the shrine as a war shrine and it worships the war criminals. I wasn't surprised that Chinese media is not mature as well as Japan's, being one-sided tone. I want to trace the historical positioning of shrines and try to explain why they honor the war criminals.
Did you ever watch "Princess Mononoke"? It is one of famous Japanese animes, and you can rent it every video rental shops. The reason I bring it up is you can see the mentality of Japanese people in that movie and it can be strongly related to the Yasukuni Shrine. For those who don't know the gist, I'll briefly follow it here. It's from a very old time when people lived along the nature, Princess Mononoke vowed revenge against human being for the destruction of the nature. At the beginning, a big boar became demoniac and assaulted a village for his injury by guns. The village people killed the boar, and one suggested that they commemorate the boar.
This is what I want to focus on; the way of the typical Japanese is that they can't help commemorate someone who died with anger or sorrow. This is simply because they fear the curse from the dead spirit on the live people. Dazaifu Tenmangu in Fukuoka is one of the typical shrines that were build for such a reason. So was Goryo Shrine near my hometown in Kyoto. I've heard a prince was killed for a power game in ~10th century. Not that he was a great person because he was dead in his youth. It's just because he must be resentful at this world and died. They are so many shrines in Japan, but the more the resentful the honored person is, the longer the shrine tend to survive. People say that they possess more magic power so they need longer time to be calm down in the shrine. I think it's just people believe so.
Let's get back to Yasukuni Shrine. The logic of what people thought was the same. Not only the war criminals, but many dead soldiers are commemorated in Yasukuni because as you know by now, people fear the revival of the dead as a demon. So we can now easily guess what the mundane people think. They vow revenge against China? NO!
I attached simple F.A.Q. in the following.
A. It's his belief, and his freedom of religeon must be guaranteed.
Q. Why does the shrine commemorate war guilts ? They must attempt to whitewash their crime.
A. Look at the Japanese culture of building shrines. Many shrines commemorate those who died in a poor way. People believe from very old time that death souls in anguish turn to daemon to curse people and the world. Yasukuni shrine commemorates "war guilts" not to turn them to daemons.
Q. Why does Koizumi go to the shrine ? He pledges to avenge a defeat.
A. Yasukuni shrine commemorates many deaths. For instance, a deplomat killed in Iraq is in Yasukuni. His body should be visited by Koizumi because he died while Koizumi was the Prime Minister.
Q. Then why doesn't Yasukuni separate the "war crime" from normal deaths ?
A. It's what Yasukuni shrine can decide, not citizens or Koizumi can do.
Q. Does yellowpeep support his visit ?
A. If I was a Chinese, I don't support it. That way, I can sneak into East China Sea and suck the gas up while grabbing other countries attention. Plus at least Korean remains a loyal. If I was a Japanese PM, I can maintain a high approval rate by just going to Yasukuni, and able to do a drastic reformation as Koizumi did. So I support his visit. If I was from some place else, really don't care.