I take issue with the assertion in your editorial ("TSU's shrine visit was honorable,"April 6, page 8) that "any country in the world, particularly China, has no right whatsoever to criticize the TSU's actions."
Of course the Taiwanese should be able to honor their war dead. However, it is absolutely not necessary to go to a controversial shrine used by the extreme Japanese nationalists as a rallying place in order to honor Taiwan's fallen World War II soldiers. While such a visit may accomplish its likely intended goal of angering people in China, it discounts the strong feelings of other Asian victims of Japanese militarism about such visits. It also ignores the strong feelings of most Americans about war criminals enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine. It is a place, after all, where fanatical Japanese revisionists display paintings and sell postcards showing American soldiers being decapitated by gleeful sword-wielding Japanese.
While the TSU may have "succeeded" in annoying Beijing, a pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine simply does too much collateral damage to Taiwan's closest friends. These Asian neighbors who suffered under the Japanese during World War II are a strong economic and moral force for the prevention and alleviation of needless cross-straits tensions, while someday the Americans may be called upon to fight and die to protect Taiwan.
Home is where the heart is, and the best way to honor the fallen Taiwanese soldiers of World War II is to do so at their home, in Taiwan. These Taiwanese died tragically on behalf of a foreign nation, but at least let their spirits be honored in ways familiar to their true homeland. I do hope that a local memorial worthy of their sacrifice can someday be built so that this sort of insensitivity to Taiwan's best allies is not repeated.
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