TOKYO, Aug. 16 -- On the day that marked the 69th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, the notorius Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo turned into a center stage for a freak show of Japan's unrepentant right-wing extremists.
Among the thousands of visitors to the shrine on Friday, some familiar faces attracted attention.
Early that morning, Chairman of National Public Safety Commission Keiji Furuya walked into the main shrine and paid homage to the place that honors 14 convicted Class-A war criminals and glorifies Japan's history of aggression.
Later, Yoshitaka Shindo, the internal affairs minister, and Tomomi Inada, the administrative reform minister, followed suit.
In fact, the three cabinet members have been the shrine's most frequent visitors since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government was formed in late 2012, and they have long ignored the fact such visits repeatedly anger neighboring countries which suffered from Japan's wartime aggression and atrocities.
In particular, Furuya has never missed the opportunity for such a visit during the shrine's spring and autumn festivals since assuming his current position.
Although the trio, like other right-wing figures in Japan, claimed that their visits were meant to pay respect to the war dead, there is an apparent link between the visits and their rightist political agenda.
Furuya, a college classmate of Abe, is one of the group of prime minister's supporters who brazenly deny that the Japanese military forced foreign women into sexual slavery during WWII.
Such disregard for history is shocking given the fact that Japan has already admitted the crime and apologized to those "comfort women" in the 1993 Kono declaration, and furthermore, the United Nations has urged the country to take legal responsibility for it and make state compensation available to surviving victims.
Moreover, Furuya and his fellow rightists also seem to forget that those they honor at the shrine include war criminals whose hands were covered with the blood of innocent people in countries invaded by Japan during WWII.
If they really feel sorry for the war dead, they should try their best to avoid a repeat of Japan's past mistakes and crimes, instead of fanning up nationalist sentiment to serve short-term political needs.
But sadly, what we have been witnessing recently in Japan is an epidemic of historical amnesia and right-wing swagger, evident in political speeches, erroneous history textbooks and, of course, the shrine visits.
If Japan continues to describe itself as a victim of war and conceals the truth about why it was defeated in WWII, there is good reason to worry that the country may repeat its horrific mistakes.