Journal 2

Race relations in the US are so complicated that we have to consider them from various points of view. Especially, the Richmond Confederate statues are controversial and I’d like to investigate this problem in comparison to the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan.

Richmond was a capital of the Confederate States of America, so Confederate symbols were created there to honor those who fought for the Confederacy. Since the South supported slavery, some people argue that the fact that they keep having those statues means they miss slavery and support racism, and therefore they should destroy the symbols. In contrast, other people claim that in order not to forget that racism still exists, or to preserve heritage, they should keep the statues.

In my opinion, they should not take down the Confederate monuments, since I think the removal means that they leave the past in the past. I rather suggest constructing a new stone monument, in front of the Confederate symbols, engraved with the messages which show that they never forget the past and do not support racism. I think it is possible to change the meaning of the statues by adding the historical context about why they were built, as the Richmond’s current mayor said.

This issue relates to the problem that my country currently has about the Yasukuni Shrine. The Shrine is a national religious institution in Japan and it has honored the souls of those who have died in the service of Japan since 1869. It mostly contains military men from the Second World War who were convicted and executed by Allied war tribunals, or who died in jail. A few Japanese politicians including prime ministers have visited the Shrine, which is problematic particularly to Japan’s neighbor countries, since it means that Japanese people admire and revere those who committed horrendous racism crimes. Some people argue, however, it is natural for Japanese people to show great admiration to the war dead. They think the tribunals were treated unfairly, which is a sort of victory’s justice, as no Americans were prosecuted for atomic bombing of Japan and firebombing of Japanese cities.

This problem about the Yasukuni Shrine involves many different aspects and we should not simplify it. What is obvious is that it is used mostly in political contexts for politicians to show their beliefs. I think this is similar to the issue about the Confederate monuments. I believe what we should consider the most is the feelings of people neglected and denied freedom. In order to build peaceful society, we should learn from the history and understand the culture deeply from various perspectives.

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