Pokemon Studio Criticised After Visiting Controversial Shrine

When Japanese politicians visit the Yasukuni Shrine, the country’s most controversial Shinto shrine, it causes an international incident. The same is true for Pokémon developers.

In Japanese, the first Shinto shrine visit of the year is called hatsumode. People visit Shinto shrines that are close to either where they live, or if they are going as a company, near where they work. The enshrine kami or deity looks over and protects the surrounding areas.

As popular Japanese game site My Game News Flash notes, staff from Creatures Inc., the studio behind Pokémon games, toys and cards, came under fire for visiting their local shrine, the Yasukuni Shrine. It’s about a ten-minute walk from their office.

Screenshot: Twitter

The Yasukuni Shrine dates from 1869. The Meiji Emperor, under whom the country modernised and Westernised, originally established the shrine to honour those who died fighting to return the Emperor to power in what was essentially a Japanese civil war. Among those enshrined are Shoin Yoshida and Ryoma Sakamoto, who not only supported to the restoration of Imperial Power but also pushed for the country to look to Westward.

Since then, however, the shrine has enshrined those who fought and died for Imperial forces, whether they be Japanese or those living in the Empire of Japan, including Koreans and later Taiwanese. (This is also controversial with some Korean descendants now demanding that the souls of their ancestors be removed.) In total, over 2.5 million souls are enshrined at Yasukuni.

It wasn’t until 1978 that fourteen Class A war criminals were secretly enshrined. Of course, there are also a large number of Class B and C war criminals also enshrined at Yasukuni, which has since become synonymous with Japanese military aggression.

Basically, it’s everything you want to stay away from if you’re an international company that typically avoids courting controversy.

On its official Twitter, Creatures Inc. posted that staff did its hatsumode at Yasukuni Shrine to ring in the year of the boar. The visit appears apolitical, but with the controversy swirling around Yasukuni, it’s hard to separate politics and history.

Immediately, Chinese and Korean fans criticised the company, pointing out how controversial the shrine is and how insensitive such a decision.

Creatures Inc. deleted the tweet after some Chinese fans called for a boycot. The word “Yasukuni” also began trending on Twitter in South Korea.


    It really does seem like the Chinese and Koreans have no intention of moving past the history and just plan on hating Japan forever.

    So because a few bad guys are enshrined their you can't visit the others?

      So because the shrine became a symbol of Imperial Japan that created untold pain suffering for millions of people, people who still live with the legacy and shame of having a rape baby in the family, those that were enslaved by Imperial Japan calling for the release of their relatives spirits, and also a place of rest for some of the most evil people to ever exist, and you think this can be summed up in such a superficial sentiment as "So because a few bad guys are enshrined their you can't visit the others"? You are the type of scum that would look away when your own neighbours are being massacred, and STILL be surprised when its your time to become the next victim.

        The world isn't so black and white. Because these terrible things have happened, innocent souls at that shrine can't be visited? They have to suffer even more for the sake of a moral stance on something they themselves were a victim of? That's like people attacking anyone who puts flowers at the site of a car crash "because the person who caused the car crash is buried there too".

          You have a point. Maybe they shouldn't be tweeting it though? I guess it's the age we live in now, people seem to do things in order to show others rather than for their own personal reasons.

          Adding to that the willful ignorance Japan seems to have in regards to it's history of atrocities and it gets more uncomfortable.

            Yeah, I'm not too familiar with the culture surrounding shrine visits in Japan but it does seem like it was a bad idea to promote the activity on the company Twitter as opposed to their personal accounts. However, that's not really what's being discussed in this specific comment thread. guestwhowould raised a valid point that this backlash is ignoring the need for innocent people to mourn their dead.

              Yes that's true I agree with that part but it appears that they went to that shrine because it was the closest to work rather than for visiting specific people or loved ones. I'm not saying they were intentionally doing something nefarious, just rather ignorant. Obviously being the internet there will be people going overboard (there always is) but exposing the issue is, I think, a good thing. It's not a backlash about anyone visiting the place but a big company posting about it on social media. So I guess I would say that guestwhowould is misrepresenting or misunderstanding the problem/issue.

                The tradition is you visit your local shrine. That's exactly what they did.it just turns out that particular one is their local.

    "When Japanese politicians visit the Yasukuni Shrine, the country’s most controversial Shinto shrine, it causes an international incident. The same is true for when Pokémon developers."

    The fact that the author got paid to write this and an editor was paid who didn't fix it is disappointing.

    It's always the tweets they highlight that make me exasperated with these things. Why do they always come across so overdramatic and entitled? It's like the overreactions you see on reddit threads...

    In regards to the issue; if they had gone out of their way to travel there I'd be far more understanding, but they didn't. Either it's okay for everyone, or it's not okay for anyone.

    Last edited 10/01/19 8:38 pm

    It's a shame that this shrine gets so many haters. I found it and the surrounding grounds to be quite tasteful quite despite being in the middle of Tokyo.

    Sorry, but its a shrine. Ok, it has some of the worst war criminals in it, but it ALSO has a lot of other people there too, and so to be up in arms over this for a small amount of people who are 'honored' there is kind of stupid.

    I remember going there when it was just shy of over 2 million people being enshrined there. On one hand I can sort of understand the political nature of it but on the other hand the number of class A criminals is 14... out of 2 million that is literal drop in the ocean.

    Granted off course these controversy always reminds me of the people that thinks the swastika was invented by the Nazi. sometimes it's a lack of understanding history, sometimes it's just people being stupid.

      It isn't really a number thing but if you want to go down that road, how many people died or suffered horribly due to the actions of those 14?

      Not sure how the swastika thing relates to this situation? Seems like a real understanding of the history is what is causing the outrage not the other way around. Many people in Japan have long downplayed, ignored or flat out denied the atrocities committed in China and Korea and elsewhere so honoring those same war criminals seems like spitting in the face of the victims. An acknowledgement of those crimes y people doesn't seem all that stupid to me really.

      I get that there 2 million+ other people enshrined but perhaps if you are going to that particular shrine don't post it on twitter?

    What a lot of people are missing here is that this particular shrine is a rallying point for the current Japanese Nationalist movement. A firmly entrenched group of political elites who routinely deny Japanese war crimes and are actively fighting to deny compensation for the Korean and Chinese women who were used as sex slaves during WW2.

    This isn't just history and it isn't just about one or two bad guys interred there. It's a powerful and current system of Japanese indifference to crimes they committed and a symbol of a powerful group of Japanese people who consider other Asians to be sub-human.

    The same is true for when Pokémon developers.

    You may wish to correct that sentence.

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