Saturday, October 01, 2005


Yasukuni trials

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is being filed lawsuits for his visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo--where the country's war dead are enshrined.

Osaka high court rules Koizumi's Yasukuni visits unconstitutional
Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 07:20 JST

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court on Friday ruled that Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi's visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine were "official" acts and
"religious activities" done in violation of the Constitution that provides for
the separation of state and religion.
But the court rejected damages demands filed by the plaintiffs, some from Taiwan, who said that the state, Koizumi and the Shinto shrine should compensate them for what they say is their mental anguish caused by the visits. The court said the visits did not harm the plaintiffs' freedom of thought or belief. The judgment was the first by a high court ruling the visits unconstitutional.

To be exact, "unconstitutional" was not in the text of a judicial decision but in a marginal note. And the judgment was a dismissal of an appeal.

The Tokyo high court handed down its ruling on the previous day without touching on the issue of constitutionality.

Tokyo high court dismisses damages claim for Koizumi's Yasukuni visit
Friday, September 30, 2005 at 08:05 JST

TOKYO — The Tokyo High Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by 39 plaintiffs who sought a total of 3.9 million yen in damages from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the state for psychological stress caused by his visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
The high court thus supported a ruling by the Chiba District Court in November 2004 that rejected the plaintiffs' damages claim in connection with Koizumi's August 2001 visit to the war-related shrine in Tokyo. The high court, however, ruled that Koizumi's visit was personal, reversing the district court's ruling that the visit was in an official capacity.

In Japan, the state and religion are separated by article 20 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court's judicial precedent on the article is the following.

Concerning Article 20--which stipulates that "the State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity"--the judge referred to a 1977 Supreme Court ruling in connection with the municipal government of Tsu's official involvement in a Shinto-style ground-breaking ceremony prior to construction of a gymnasium.
At that time, the top court said Article 20 banned religious activity that "is of religious significance and whose effect either helps or suppresses religion." This definition is known as "the purpose and effect criterion."

PM's visits to Yasukuni ruled illegal

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