Japan still maintains a culture and tradition of worshipping the deceased. The Japanese people have long believed that the spirits of the deceased remain eternally on this earth and guard their descendants. Even in today’s Japan, people who carry on these traditional beliefs and the Shinto faith consider their ancestors to be their “guardian deities,” and thus objects of worship.
In addition, traditional Japanese religious practices also include the worship of the spirits of those who have made significant contributions to their regional and national communities－not only one’s own family. Yasukuni Jinja is an example of this Japanese tradition.
Yasukuni Jinja is a place to commemorate the dead according to Shinto, the traditional Japanese faith, and for all Japanese people to show their respect for those who died to protect their country. The spirits of these deceased are the object of worship at Yasukuni Jinja. Therefore, the shrine has a completely different nature from that of tombs where bodies or bones of fallen soldiers are buried.
Yasukuni Jinja is a place for Japanese people to show their appreciation and respect for those who died to protect their country, Japan, not unlike similar facilities that foreign visitors may find in their home countries.
The main difference between Yasukuni Jinja and memorial institutions for war dead in other countries is that Yasukuni Jinja is a religious institution that enshrines the spirits of those who died to protect their homeland. This difference may cause misunderstanding. However, the shrine has its origin in the traditional Japanese religious practice of commemorating the deceased eternally by enshrining them as objects of worship. In this regard, it is a normal institution in accordance with traditional Japanese beliefs.
People who cherish their own culture and respect the cultures of others will understand this difference, and the importance of Yasukuni Jinja in showing respect to those who dedicated their precious lives to their homeland.
Today, many people visit Yasukuni Jinja regardless of their religion, beliefs, or nationality. That is because the shrine is a public place to show respect for those who have died to protect their country.