Skip to comments.Wave of ‘dangerous’ nationalism sweeps Japan-(tora tora tora)
Posted on 08/28/2006 3:18:10 PM PDT by Flavius
Koichi Kato is understandably upset.
Earlier this month, a man armed with a knife and copious supplies of kerosene burnt down Mr Katos family home in Yamagata prefecture and then tried to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide, on the premises. Only by chance was Mr Katos 97-year-old mother out for a stroll.
The attack on Mr Katos home by a suspected right-wing fanatic followed repeated warnings by the veteran Liberal Democratic party politician against the wisdom of prime ministerial visits to the Yasukuni shrine. Yasukuni is the Shinto shrine that honours 2.5m war dead, as well as a handful of leaders including Hideki Tojo, the wartime prime minister convicted of war crimes by the Tokyo tribunal. Visits by Junichiro Koizumi, prime minister, have angered China and South Korea, which say Japan is refusing to face up to its wartime past.
Although the assailant, still recovering from burns and slashes to his stomach and wrists, has not yet spoken, police are working on the assumption that he was outraged by the suggestion of boycotting Japans most treasured nationalist symbol.
In spite of the advice from Mr Kato, once Mr Koizumis righthand man, the prime minister visited the shrine on August 15, the anniversary of Japans wartime surrender and the most offensive date for the countrys former adversaries.
For Mr Kato, this series of events is a sign that Japan is lurching towards unhealthy nationalism. What I am concerned about is the very strong anti-Chinese, anti-Korean and sometimes anti-American nationalism that is prevailing in Japan.
He blames politicians, including Shinzo Abe, for reopening the debate about whether Japan fought a just war in the 1930s and 1940s and whether it was forced into conflict by American trickery. This kind of nationalism is very hard to calm down once leaders ignite it. This is a dangerous nationalism. Politicians should not try to use it.
Things could get worse, Mr Kato says, if, as is almost universally expected, Mr Abe succeeds Mr Koizumi as prime minister next month. Koizumi-san admitted that Tojo and others were war criminals, he says. But Abe does not accept that notion.
Mr Abe, he argues, is very influenced by the thinking of his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who became a postwar prime minister after being arrested, but never convicted, on suspicion of being a war criminal.
Mr Abes advisers say the would-be prime minister is merely trying to draw a line under six decades of self-flagellation under which, they say, schools have taught successive generations that Japan was uniquely wicked in the war. Mr Abe, they say, wants to restore a healthy nationalism in which people are proud of their countrys culture and achievements.
He also wants to clarify Japans right to defend itself, by changing the pacifist constitution banning a Japanese military and by spelling out Japans right abandoned for half a century to participate in collective self-defence.
As things stand, the US is pledged to defend Japan if it comes under attack but if the US is attacked in the region, Japan cannot come to its aid. Hisahiko Okazaki, an adviser to Mr Abe, says: Theres good nationalism and bad nationalism. If you raise the flag and sing the national anthem, thats good nationalism. But if you tear down the flag of another nation, thats bad nationalism. Mr Abe is promoting the good kind, he says.
However, Mr Kato says politicians are leading the nation into unhealthy territory, actively promoting a historical amnesia.
He also blames books and films for encouraging such sentiments, adding that the man who burnt down his home was believed to have been reading a rightwing comic before the attack.
Masahiko Fujiwara, author of the recent blockbuster A Nations Dignity, and a poster boy for Japanese conservatives, says: The concept of an A-class criminal doesnt mean anything, because winners dont have the right to judge the losers, not just in Tokyo but also in Nuremburg.
If Tojo was an A-class criminal, then so was Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Mao and Truman, who bombed us with atomic bombs.
Mr Kato regards such views as dangerous, saying that Japan should face up to what he considers its prewar arrogance and colonialist ambitions. Some people want to erase all these past mistakes.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
US: You nuke us, who will hold the Japanese back next time?
Me thinks the same. Let Japan take care of their own History on their own. We do not need to baby sit Japan anymore and/or impose our own views upon them.
They are a very proud nation, rich History and perfectly capable to right the wrongs in their past.
We should leave Japan completely, for they are fully capable to protect themselves.
We should release them out of the contract drafted and signed in 1945 when the war ended, and let the Japanese decide their own fate on their own, the way they see fit.
There's a difference between nationalism and extremism...I don't see a problem with having pride in your nation, and honoring those who gave their lives in your country's wars. Let's not blame the masses for the sins of the few.
Don't know about leaving them alone...mutual-defense pact would be fine with me. Let them take primary responsibility for their defense, keep our basing rights for the carrier group, move the Marines from Okinawa to Guam, agree we'll help each other in an emergency.
And more directly, some of it is a direct result of having a frizzy-haired punk whose country has absolutely nothing but misery to offer either the world or its own citizens, loft missiles their direction and on one occasion over their territory. It'd tick me off too.
First, the French do not have a seven thousand year old history of unified spirituality. The Romans conquered a variety of primitive tribes holding forth a variety of earth gods. Only when Christianity flowed through the communication systems of the Roman Empire was there any sort of consistent spirituality. Into the Middle Ages there was really no nation of France even though the Pope about 900 AD blessed one faction . An area was colored the same on a map long before the age of tribal warfare ended. We called the contending factions ducies, principalities, etc. Second, I stand by my comment which says Japan will move to re-establish its national independence. It is a severe stretch on your part to say I implyed Japan would contemplate an attack on both countries. Again they have a millenial perspective on there position of dominance.
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