The Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is dedicated to the kami of Japanese soldiers who died fighting for the Emperor of Japan. Currently, the names of nearly 2.5 million dead people are registered there.
The prime ministers of Japan regularly come here to pay their respect to the dead. As a number of the people registered there are known war criminals from World War II, this upsets the victims of Japanese aggression in World War II, especially China and Korea. However, it is worth remembering, especially in the face of ill informed knee-jerk criticism by the Western Media, that most of the dead commemorated here were not war criminals and that this is Japan's equivalent of, say, the London Cenotaph - their nation's state war memorial - so it is not unsurprising for it to be venerated by Japanese dignitaries … or, indeed, those visiting from other nations.
Note also that, like many national war memorials, this one commemorates more that WW2 - the Yasukuni Shrine honours the dead of wars back into the 19th century and will continue to be used for Japanese war dead as required.
More contravertially, some of those memorialised here are not Japanese but in fact Koreans or other nationals conscripted into the Japanese forces. That they are claimed as heros by a nation that could justly have been called their enemies is bad enough, but if you happen to be an animist or a practitioner of a similar religion, does this mean that your spirit is conscripted by the Japanese in life just as they conscripted you in death?
Game and Story Use
- If the worship at Yasukuni Shrine ever stops, will the kami be offended? And if so, what will they do in retaliation?
- From an animist perspective, perhaps the "misappropriated" kami of Korean conscripts would make effective "angry ghosts", haunting Japan in revenge for being forced away from their homeland by being recorded on the monument.
- Similar shrines to the dead could be as politically controversial in other settings. One side insists on worshiping there out of religious piety. The other side perceives some of the people interred or worshiped there as monsters (justified or not).
- This doesn't even have to be between two different nations - different factions in a former civil war work just as well.
- In a magic system where handling of spirits is important, this could potentially be an immensely effective place of power for a practitioner involved in the right sort of working (especially those related to Japanese national ambitions, warfare or the like).