The past is present everywhere, but Japan is an unusually history-haunted nation. Elsewhere the Cold War is spoken of in the past tense. Japan, however, lives in a dangerous neighborhood with two communist regimes—truculent China and weird North Korea. For Japan, the fall of the Berlin Wall did not close an epoch. Even World War II still shapes political discourse because of a Shinto shrine in the center of this city [Tokyo].
Young soldiers leaving Japan during that war often would say, "If I don't come home, I'll see you at Yasukuni." The souls of 2.5 million casualties of Japan's wars are believed to be present at that shrine. In 1978, 14 other souls were enshrined there—those of 14 major war criminals.
—George F. Will “The Uneasy Sleep of Japan's Dead” Washington Post, August 20, 2006