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Yasukuni Shrine on book cover no trivial matter

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-16 07:52

Visitors stand in silent tribute at the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, Sept 18, 2020. People from Nanjing and other places commemorated the 89th anniversary of September 18 Incident, which marked the outbreak of Japan's large-scale invasion of China.[Photo/Xinhua]

Dalian University of Technology Press issued a statement on Tuesday acknowledging its mistake while selecting the cover of a tourism book on Japan. They said the book will be recalled and the editor held responsible.

The acknowledgement came after a snapshot of the cover, showing the Yasukuni Shrine — where 14 Class-A war criminals of the then imperialist Japan are worshipped — was circulated online. It was a folly to include the photograph of what is to all victims of the war a symbol of imperialist aggression on the cover page.

The incident should make the publishing house more vigilant in selecting photographs for book covers, as such insensitivity can prove costly.

Some people said Chinese residents were being oversensitive, even calling them "nationalistic". However, they must bear in mind that China was the main target of imperial Japan's aggression during World War II, suffering the heaviest losses among all nations, and the Yasukuni Shrine symbolizes that militant past. Japan's refusal to acknowledge that past only adds insult to injury.

Those blaming the publishing house for the mistake and saying it should not be equated with "nationalism" should imagine how the world, especially Europe and the United States, would have reacted had the publishing house instead put the Nazi swastika on the book's cover. It is therefore an exaggeration to call the Chinese people's move "nationalistic".

On Aug 15, 2022, the 77th anniversary of Japan's unconditional surrender, hundreds of Japanese people protested in Tokyo, calling for the closure of the Yasukuni Shrine. As long as the war criminals are still honored at the shrine, there is no reason why carrying an image of the place will not trigger anger.

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