John Nelson - Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco
What motived over 80 senior politicians and 80 senior staff to make an official visit on October 19, 2004 to one of Japan’s most controversial and important religious sites–Yasukuni Shrine? Although expressly prohibited by the postwar constitution, the current Prime Minister and his allies continue to make visits to express what they say is their “sincere desire for peace.” But what else is going on at this site? John Nelson’s talk will be accompanied by his new 25-minute film on the shrine made for university audiences. Using rare video footage from within the shrine–showing rituals carried out for spirits of the military dead, military personnel, and bereaved families–as well as exhibits from the shrine’s museum of war memorabilia, we will explore just how the “invented traditions” of this Shinto shrine have served the interests of the Japanese state from 1868 to the present day.