Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et al. on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization


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Hi Blog.  There’s a case that can be made nowadays that Japan is not only in decline, it’s falling back on jingoism (beyond the standard nihonjinron and historical revisionism) to support the image of a Japan that was once better when it had fewer foreigners (or none, which was historically never the case).  As my current research (more on this in future) has sought to demonstrate, Japan’s (Postwar, not Prewar, cf. Oguma Eiji) national narrative of “monoculturalism, monoethnicity, and homogeneity” has sponsored an ideological ethnic cleansing of Japan, thanks in part to revolving-door visa regimes and all manner of incentives to make sure that few “visibly foreign” foreigners stay here forever (hence the prioritizing of the Nikkei) for they agitate for more rights as generational residents (consider the visas that can be cancelled or phased out pretty much at government whim; we’ve seen it before with, for example, the Iranians in the late 1990s).  And if you ever thought “the next generation of younger Japanese will be more liberal”, we now have Osaka Gov Hashimoro Touru (younger than I) also supporting historical revisionism (see below) and forming the “Japan Restoration Party” (the poignantly and ominously named Nihon Ishin no Kai) on September 12, 2012.  With the recent saber-rattling (which nation-states indulge in periodically to draw public attention away from larger social problems, in Japan’s case the issues of nuclear power and the irradiating food chain) and the overblown flaps over the Takeshima/Tokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu ocean specks, we have an emerging vision of Japan as a remilitarized power in Asia, courtesy of Debito.org Reader JDG.  I thought we’d have a discussion about that here.  Take a look through the resource materials below and consider whether or not you share the apprehension that I (and some major academics overseas, including Ted Bestor and Harumi Befu, at the very bottom) have about Japan’s future.  Arudou Debito


August 23, 2012
Hello Debito, I hope that you are well, and enjoying your sumer break.  I was wondering if I might suggest a JBC topic for you?

The Economist link I sent to you before, combined with the earlier war-crimes denial by the mayor of Nagoya, the ever-irritating blinky [Ishihara Shintaro], and now this:

The Japan Times Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012
No evidence sex slaves were taken by military: Hashimoto
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer (excerpt)
OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said there was no evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army forced Korean women and girls into sexual servitude at wartime military brothels.

In response to a question Tuesday about South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s visit to the disputed Takeshima islets, which are called Dokdo in South Korea, which controls them, Hashimoto touched on Lee’s recent demands for Japan to apologize to the forced sex workers — now often described as “sex slaves” by the media — who were euphemistically called “comfort women” by the Japanese.

“There is no evidence that people called comfort women were taken away by violence or threat by the (Japanese) military,” Hashimoto said. “If there is such evidence, South Korea should provide it.”…

In August 1993, after more than 1½ years of government research into the issue, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement saying the Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of “comfort stations” and the transfer of comfort women.

“The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments,” the statement said.

“It is deeply regrettable that the politician (Hashimoto) made remarks that run counter to the official position of the Japanese government,” said a South Korean government spokesman in an email to The Japan Times. “Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono issued a statement acknowledging the forcible recruitment of the so-called comfort women, sexual slavery victims drafted for the Japanese Imperial Army. As such, we believe the Japanese government has already acknowledged the forced nature of the recruitment of comfort women.”
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120823a6.html

Hashimoto denying J-war crimes is giving me massive pause for thought about the future of Japan. J-politicians have done this since the reverse course, but the fact of Hashimoto doing it proves that even the ‘next’ generation of J-politicians can’t stop the denial, and abandon Imperial era ideology.

Why does this bother me (beyond the obvious)?

Power is (as I am sure you know) based on three ‘legs’ in international relations terms. The first is political power (you can influence countries because they agree with your policies). Post-war Japan has never had any clout in this area. The second form is economic power (you can influence other countries with cash incentives). Until now Japan has been quite adept at quelling ruffled neighbors feathers with large amounts of ODA. But now China and Korea are ‘catching up’ economically, and Japan is falling behind, so this economic power is seen to be escaping from Japan’s grasp.

The third type of power in international relations is military power (when you can’t convince or buy concordance, smack them in the face). Recent comments by J-politicians named above, the continued visits to Yasukuni by the insensitively flippantly named ‘Let’s Visit Yasukuni!’ group of Diet members, the recent changing of the constitution to ‘ensure Japan’s nuclear safety’ (a move that specifically does not exclude the development of nuclear weapons- ‘Self Defense Force’ type word games), are causing me and others, great apprehension about Japan’s future.

Whilst I have no doubt that Japan will not embark on a series of expansionist wars, it seems to me that increasing Japanese insecurity with economic stagnation (read as: ‘Economic failure=losing the post-war peace’), is forcing J-politicians to fall back increasing on the verbosity of the third leg of international relations power. The purpose of this verbosity is to garner domestic support rather than exert any real international influence, and in this sense, it is of great concern for NJ residents in Japan.

Whilst I hope sincerely that a significant majority of the Japanese public would resist such endorsement of Imperial-era Japanese militarism, I am not encouraged. Given that it is unrealistic to suppose that Japan could successfully take military action against it’s powerful neighbors free from the risk of retaliation, my fear is that (as in 1930’s Germany), we are seeing a ‘renaissance’ of Japanese nationalistic ideology, rather than it’s much prolonged demise. An ideology that can only find a vent for it’s frustration on the NJ living in Japan.

The implications of this for NJ is that Japan will certainly not become more open and less discriminatory, but rather the drastic opposite.

At present, it’s all rather in the balance, but the fact that 67 years after the end of WWII the Mayors of Japan’s first, second, and third cities can still deny war crimes whilst calling for a militarily ‘stronger’ Japan should certainly make any NJ think twice about even visiting.

I have had enough, and will be leaving with my family. Japan, I sincerely believe, will get much worse for NJ as the economy fails to right itself. I think that the case can be made that the chance for Japan to become an internationalized country (in the Western sense) passed some 20 years ago, and instead of looking to the future, the Japanese are raging at the passing of glory days gone by.

Sincerely JDG.


September 10, 2012

As a postscript to the mail I sent you before, have you seen this?

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012
Tanigaki out, Ishihara likely in LDP race
Party angling for return to power; Noda kicks off DPJ campaign

Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki gave up his bid Monday to seek re-election in the Sept. 26 LDP leadership race, paving way for his right-hand man, Nobuteru Ishihara, as yet an undeclared candidate, to vie for the helm…

[Current DPJ PM] Noda, 55, vowed to create a nuclear power-free society, without saying when this may be achieved, and pledged 1 percent inflation within a year to overcome deflation.

He also vowed to protect Japanese sovereignty, including over the Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls, and the Takeshima islets, which are held by South Korea. He pledged to pave the way for the return of the Russia-held islands off Hokkaido. Noda also noted the government will buy three of the five Senkaku Islands, which are currently owned by a Saitama businessman.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120911a1.html

Son of blinky as the next PM, combined with The Economist’s insiders’ take on future LDP policy? Does not bear thinking about for NJ.

I believe that Japan has been stringing the world along all along, just so that we would be happy to buy their cars and VCRs and other crap. In it’s heart Japan has never changed because it doesn’t want to, and now that we aren’t buying enough of their products, they have no reason to pretend to have changed.

I think that the time is coming for a change in strategy. Working from inside to educate the Japanese about the issues is having no real effect, maybe the next phase is just to shove evidence of Japan’s disgraceful behavior into the face of the international community until Japan is shamed into taking action.

After all, what should the headline of the NY Times be on the day that PM Son-of-Blinky shakes hands with the President of the USA?

The Japan Times, Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012
Hashimoto launches party amid workload, universal appeal doubts
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer (excerpt)
OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s new national political party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), was officially launched Wednesday with the aim of fundamentally changing the way the nation is governed…

The event boasted a map of Japan that included not only the four main islands and Okinawa, but also the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets, which are also claimed by China, the Takeshima islets, which are held by South Korea, where they are called Dokdo, and the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan has wanted back since Soviet forces seized them at the end of the war.

Hashimoto’s party platform calls for proactive defense of Japanese sovereignty and territories. It did not specify how it would deal with territory Japan claims but no longer has control over….

There is also concern among Hashimoto’s advisers over how broad, nationally, the new party’s appeal will be. His biggest supporters are socially conservative urban males in their late 20s through late 40s, and media are already dubbing the party a “boy’s club.” Of the 105 local-level politicians in Osaka Ishin no Kai, only nine are women, and there were no female participants in Sunday’s discussion.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120913a3.html

日本維新の会、結党を宣言 衆院選350人擁立目指す
朝日新聞 2012年9月13日




September 12, 2012 3:45 am
Japan’s not ready to be a reliable ally

The Financial Times (London), Letter to the Editor
From Dr Jean-Pierre Lehmann. Courtesy DH

Sir, Ian Bremmer and David Gordon’s suggestion that “Japan must be the new indispensable ally for the US in Asia” (September 10) is an absolute non-starter; going down that road would be disastrous for the US and for the region.

First, Japan has become more than ever since the end of the second world war, and more than any other major country, an inward looking-nation. There is no Japanese world view. The number of Japanese students in the US has significantly declined, in contrast to the growing numbers from many other Asian countries. Japan scores last but one (North Korea) in TOEFL (tests of English as a foreign language). Since Sadako Ogata served as the UN high commissioner for refugees there has been no prominent Japanese holding an international position. There is no visibility, let alone influence, of Japan at the World Trade Organisation. On this, as in respect to many other issues, no one knows what Japan stands for. At international policy forums, the Japanese, apart from a tiny handful of regulars, tend to be conspicuous by their absence. Japan remains a very closed country to foreigners: there are very, very few foreigners (and especially few non-Japanese Asians) in prominent positions in Japanese companies, Japanese universities, Japanese think-tanks, Japanese non-governmental organisations (of which there are very few internationally inclined), and so on. The picture of Japanese corporate diplomacy they present is a throwback to a vision of the 1980s, which was pretty much a mirage already then.

Second, and far more critical as recent events so sadly demonstrate, Japan, unlike Germany, has still not made peace with its neighbours. Relations are terrible with the Koreans and with China, but they are also bad with many other Asian countries or entities, including Hong Kong and Taiwan. Not only has Japan shown no leadership in Asia, it has been seen to behave in a highly mercantilist fashion and with a stunning lack of conscience of its past atrocities. The Japanese have shown themselves, at best, to be amazingly insensitive.

For the moment, unlike in the 1930s and 1940s, Japan poses no military threat. However, its behaviour vis-à-vis the world in general and its Asian neighbours in particular poses a serious security threat. There can be no peace in the Asia of the 21st century if the peace of the 20th century in Asia has not been restored. By whitewashing the past (as the US did vis-à-vis Japan and Asia in the aftermath of the second world war) and embracing Japan as an indispensable ally in Asia, the US will be seriously exacerbating the already explosive regional condition.

Japan should be encouraged to make peace and open up. Then prospects for a peaceful and prosperous Pacific will be greatly enhanced.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Emeritus Professor at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland



From: “Bestor, Theodore” XXXXXXX@WJH.HARVARD.EDU
Date: September 3, 2012 6:10:57 PM
Subject: FW: China & Korea relations with Japan 中国〜日本/韓国〜日本
Reply-To: East Asia Anthropologists’ discussion

Dear Colleagues,

With Harumi Befu’s permission, I am forwarding his email of earlier today regarding the crises among various Asian nations over nominal control of tiny rocks in the several oceans and seas around East Asia. I entirely agree with his position that nationalist rhetoric is ramping up in very disturbing ways on all sides.

I send this along in the hope (both Harumi’s and my own) that those of us who study and write about East Asian cultures, societies, polities might help create spaces in which to engage in creative and productive dialogue that could contribute to a diffusing of tensions.

Harumi and I agree that the current heated rhetoric over the various specks in dispute are serious threats to regional peace and stability.

Perhaps EASIANTH could be a forum for discussion on this set of issues.

With best wishes, Ted


From: Harumi XXXX@stanford.edu
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2012 19:56:30

Subject: China & Korea relations with Jpan 中国〜日本/韓国〜日本

Dear Colleagues in East Asian Studies:
(Apologies for multiple mailing.)

This communication is being sent to my colleagues who might be concerned as I am with the current developments in the border dispute between Korea and Japan and between China and Japan, created by respective governments’ hardened positions. These disputes are unnecessarily escalated by the support of nationalist sentiments of all sides and are further flared by the media.

I hope at least some of you share my view that the current developments are counterproductive to the lasting peace in East Asia and are dangerously degenerating into belligerent diplomacy, and that it is time and it is the duty of us academics making our living by studying this area to undertake a concerted effort to make our voices heard, trusting that our collective wisdom has the power of persuading the public and the governments of the three countries.

Our academic endeavor is an effort in futility if we cannot exert any influence on the larger society in time of crisis.

I have no preconceived agenda, formula, or program of action. You must have your own take and preferred course of action. Some might like to act alone; others might like to underscore the Durkheimian belief that collective action is more than the arithmetic sum of parts. Whatever you wish to do, time is of essence. Dark clouds are gathering fast. I beseech you to act.

Respectfully submitted by your colleague,
Harumi Befu, Stanford University
p.s. My mailing list is woefully inadequate. I hope you will feel encouraged to utilize your own lists of contact.


34 comments on “Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et al. on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization

  • Sino-Japanese maritime disputes
    Islands apart
    There is more than meets the eye to the countries’ tense stand-off
    Sep 15th 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition


    THE row between Japan and China over five islets that lie between them resurfaced again on September 11th when the Japanese government agreed to pay ¥2 billion ($26m) to buy, from their private owner, the three it does not already own. China reacted with outrage, and sent two patrol vessels to waters near what the Japanese call the Senkaku islands, and the Chinese call the Diaoyu.

    Japan hopes this is more sound than fury. Yoshihiko Noda, the prime minister, may have bought the islands not to stir up troubled waters, but because he felt it was better than putting them into the hands of Shintaro Ishihara, governor of Tokyo and a crusty, China-baiting nationalist. In April Mr Ishihara launched a campaign for the Tokyo metropolitan government to buy them.

    China may not see it Mr Noda’s way. Part of the problem is that, while much of the region resents what it sees as Chinese maritime expansion, China is troubled by Japan’s own maritime scope. Although the two nations have, by some estimates, roughly the same amount of coastline, Japan, an archipelago, claims an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 4.5m square km (2.8m square miles), five times more than China.

    A recent paper by Gavan McCormack of the Australian National University argues that since the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was ratified in 1982, Japan, thanks partly to a colonial legacy, has done better out of it than China. In EEZ terms, the latter ranks somewhere between the Maldives and Somalia as a maritime power.

    Japan takes its EEZs seriously. The Tokyo metropolitan government, amazingly, has jurisdiction over islands and atolls stretching deep into the Pacific. It reaches as far as Okinotorishima (literally “remote bird island”), almost 2,000km (1,250 miles) from the capital—roughly the distance from London to Reykjavik. Essentially two islets on an atoll, the territory shrinks at high tide so that “one is about the size of a double bed and the other a small room,” as Mr McCormack puts it. Since 1987, he says, Tokyo has spent $600m trying to stop the reef from disappearing. Under international law Japan’s claim that Okinotorishima counts as an island (thus permitting an EEZ stretching out in a 200-miles radius) is shaky, to put it mildly.

    Given the potential territorial and resource benefits, neither country’s hysteria over the Senkaku seems quite so outlandish. Mr Noda’s government may try to soothe the issue by pledging to keep Japanese from setting foot on them. Yet the islands may soon loom large again. A general election in Japan is due. And the chief opposition hopeful as next prime minister is none other than Nobuteru Ishihara, the crusty governor’s son.

  • Dear Debido,

    Just a quick message to let you know of something that happened to me yesterday.

    Recently, I’ve been feeling like I might just overcome a major hurdle that has plagued me since coming to Japan 20 years ago. Like most of us, I’ve always been the “temporary” staff or the “gaijin” researcher, despite having very respectable positions as storied institutions (I’m a university academic).

    Well just last month, I started working at a national university as, for the first time, a 常勤 professor. That’s just a regular old university professor at a national university. I have a “normal” staff card, full and “normal” library privileges. I was even given a 年金手帳, presumably to keep track of how much I pay into the national pension scheme, to draw on when I get old.

    Everything was going so well, until I received my pay check yesterday and attended the first faculty meeting.

    Just before the meeting, I was handed a pay slip. I opened it and was thrilled to find that I’m getting paid, just like normal. Yea!!! But then I noticed something deeply saddening. The slip is covered with individual columns, each indicative of some kind of tax or something. One of them was “Pay grade,” which normally shows one’s formal status, such as “professor,” “assistant professor,” etc. What was my Pay Grade?


    Gang, gang, gang. Shock.

    Immediately after getting the pay slip, I attended my first faculty meeting. It’s a big, and quite formal affair. As we academics filed in, each of us checked off our names on a big roster being carefully overseen by two office ladies. When it came my turn, I was quickly waved away. Figuring my name might not yet be on the list because I’m still new, I enquired, “So my name’s not on the list yet?” To this I was told, “Foreign professor’s names are not kept on the list.” Me: “Why not?” OL: “I think it’s because they generally don’t come to faculty meetings.” Me: “Even the ‘常勤’ gaijin faculty?” OL: “Right.”


    And then guess what? As soon as I was finished giving my self introduction at the meeting, I was warmly and gently escorted to the door. I was “free” to go back to living my gaijin life, presumably of irrelevance and incompetence. God forbid I want to give my opinion at the faculty meeting. Who knows what might have gone wrong?

    (One more side note: I was assured by the dean that I could go my self introduction in English if I wanted. That’s despite the fact that the guy has NEVER heard me speak English, I’ve lived in Japan for 20 years, and passed the JLPT level 1 in the 1990s! What’s up with that?)


    — Wow. To me, that sounds like a life-view changing shock. I hope this isn’t bouncing around your brain too much and revving up your adrenalin. Thanks for sharing it. Now back on topic.

  • Debito, JDG, et. al.,

    Thanks for sharing these links and texts. I am a bit conflicted, however, on just the relevancy of a discussion here about this topic. In my opinion, it would be a lot of “talking to the converted.” As shocking as M’s case is, we’ve all heard similar tales if not experienced them ourselves in some way.

    I think most NJ living in Japan today have been keenly aware of Japan slowly but assuredly moving toward an image of itself from the past. Of it constantly looking back instead of forward. I think someone wrote that this is the first sign of a collapsing society. You would think the events of 3.11 would have woken up the populace (and it has to a certain extent) to raising up their voices and calling on politicians to actually do something. But as Debito points out, just as news coverage of demonstrations by thousands in front of the PM’s residence starts taking the headlines, some row between Japan’s neighbors over insignificant rocks “erupts” to distract the public from far more important domestic, social issues and scare them into running into the walls of the castle. In the 3 years of the DPJ’s rule, “Japan’s sovereignty” and its ability to deal with “foreign threats” have been used 3 times against each DPJ PM who’s held office. Meanwhile, we are getting the return of former PM-quitter Abe Shinzo (a nationalist) running for the head of the LDP against probably the top-runner Ishihara v.2. IF he gets elected and presumably makes it to the PM position, that would be a Ishihara tag-team at both the Federal and Local (Tokyo being the big bully of all the prefectures) level which should be a conflict of interest, but nobody seems to be talking about that.

    So, what are our discussions supposed to do? If anything, we should be talking less amongst ourselves and more with the Japanese immediately around us—friends, family, co-workers, etc. What’s obvious to us, is not to them. And we need to make them open their eyes to it. With that in mind, I hope this thread will be a place where articles and links to articles (both English and Japanese) can be collected for everyone to use in those discussions, not really as “proof” in the strict sense of the term, but as evidence of the way Japan is being seen by the international community.

    As I’ve always said, we may not be able to vote, but we can surely influence those who do.

  • It is good reading something from Jean-Pierre Lehmann again. Exactly 10 years ago, he had a yearlong series running in the Japan Times, one of the best is here:

    “Bleaker times may await the grandkids”, recommended reading.
    Full article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20021223jl.html

    Not much has changed in the last 10 years!

    And a note to Matthew (post #2): Check your status again. Are you sure that you have the same tenure, the same salary, the same duties and the same status as your Japanese colleagues? Best to go straight to your 人事課 and ask first, and then complain (at least once a week) to everyone you see to get your gakikokujin-status deleted.

  • Debito and JDG,

    I fully share your apprehension.

    An addition to your list of recent articles on the subject: Tessa Morris-Suzuki has just published a very sensible article, titled “Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan’”, which is a must-read in this regard.


  • M: That’s really too bad; I hope that you are able to fix the situation.

    On topic: This is what happens after big-time recessions. In the US we have the “Tea Party” which is supposed to harken back to founding times, we have people killing Sikhs because they mistakenly believe people with headgear to be Islamic terrorists who hate ‘merikuh. In Europe we have anti-foreign sentiment at heights perhaps not seen since the 3rd reich. Welcome to the post-recession era, welcome to world war 3. Nihon ishin no kai is what it is this time in Japan, eh. Only thing to do is donate money to their political candidates then leak it to the press in advance of the election.

  • The only bright side to a Son of Blinky versus Toru Hashimoto election is that it might split the nationalist vote, allowing the DPJ in- the lesser of 3 evils.

    Japanese politics is starting to look like Russian politics a few years ago; lots of new parties, essentially right-qing and even then are not,(Communist Party) they are still essentially anti-western. Russian values- and Putin’s emphasis of alliance with traditional forces like the church, harken back to the 19th century of Imperial Russia.

    On a personal anecdote, a Japanese expat obasan came into my Asian office yesterday. She said she was from Osaka, and that she recommended I relocate there, as opposed to Tokyo. and that with the new mayor, “Osaka is experiencing a resurgence”.

    It reminded me of the sort of people who elected Hitler in the 1930s. Middle aged, middle class respectable people in many cases, who saw hope for a resurgence in him too. I hope I am wrong.

  • Obviously, Japan has a huge number of golden oldies, who cast the majority votes here, and then you have young people who are as apathetic as they come, most of whom can’t be bothered voting.

    In their waning years, the oldies are growing ever more sentimental, wistfully remembering a time when Japan was more powerful. The politicians are simply pandering to the elderly. It’s nothing but hot air and will go nowhere, because it has nowhere to go.

  • Matthew: In my experience, the only way for J to take NJ seriously is to put your foot down and get *slightly* agressive. Of course, nothing violent or whatever, but you NEED to let them know that what they are doing is not ok. Even just “Please speak regular Japanese to me” when people in 7/11 are using gestures. (I really, really get sick of this)

    On topic: The US is going through this now, too. With Romney wanting to take things back to the 50s, Japan is also trying to go back to the 30s. If they do, Japan will fail completely. But, here’s hoping against all hope that Japanese people will realize that if they do that, other countries will wage war against them, and Japan will lose.

    — Note to everyone: Extreme comparisons such as Hitler and war cheapen the discussion, so let’s try to keep assessments within reasonable boundaries.

  • Debito, I take your point about war but Toru Hashimoto really does resemble Hitler or other “charisma politicians”. He seemed reasonable at first too, I do not think it is such an extreme comparision, and considering the narrowing breadth of the Japanese political spectrum now since the destruction of the socialist party from Old right (LDP) versus central left but former right (DPJ) to what seems to be emerging, Old Right Right (Nobu head Ishihara’s LDP) versus New, popularist Right (Hashimoto) versus DJP (former old right moving to the centre), it seems extremes will become more the norm.

    I do have an MA in Pol. Sci. This reminds me of Von Papen and Hindenburg, versus Adolf, eventually finding their common ground in anti communism (modern equivalent being China?). What is extreme about learning from history?

    — Ground it in historical context and comparison like this and I have no problem, thanks. Most people don’t, and then people take it less seriously as hyperbole.

  • Debito

    I never said anything about Hitler, and after seeing how Korea, Japan, and China are ‘getting along’, I think War is not as extreme as you think.

    — Er… I said, “Note to everyone”, meaning not just you. Hitler was mentioned in Comment #8. Back on topic.

  • Regarding Matthew`s comments=

    It is sickening that this kind of thing goes on, still. Perhaps it is little consolation, but I work at a private university and the treatment is much better. After several years of insisting that I am a real academic and deserve to be heard, people have begun to lend me their ears, as it were.

    The closer you get to officialdom and to the state, the more you will find that things get difficult. As Arudou and others point out, the trends in Japan are not promising, but neither is the fate of things written in stone, at least not yet.

  • Two points:


    I am suspicious of any comparisons with Hitler, because Hitler is fundamentally known as a paramount exemplar of a political leader dedicated to racial genocide.

    When I see references to his relations with Von Papen or the like, I believe that it misses the point that while Hitler engaged in many other activities, he really stands for the principle of racist genocide.

    Others courted extremes (in my own Netherlands we still have Geert Wilders even after the recent election), or had odd mustaches or what have you, but Hitler stands as a symbol of racist genocide.

    Thus, to invoke Hitler as a comparison is to say that whoever is being referred is someone with at least some level of power who actively supports and is focused on racist genocide.

    It may be that there are some J politicians who say and actively work for a future in which other groups should be murdered — certainly J did so during World War 2.

    But, if so, please provide information that shows that they support and work for the goal of racist genocide, rather than their being extreme rightists, or intolerant, or saying nasty things.

    Hitler in the Netherlands and elsewhere was more than merely a rightwing bigoted politician who encouraged ill treatment of others.

    He actively planned and worked towards a goal of racist genocide.


    Japan now reminds me of Saudi where I have lived, and also to some degree of my home the Netherlands.

    Saudi is a place where there is a romantic and ahistoric view of its past that apotheosises the ideology of its past, and in which intolerance of others (especially non-Muslims) is growing.

    And, there are mythical notions of blood and purity there as well.

    There seems to be in many countries a spirit of romantic nostalgia about an imaginary past.

    Yet, in other countries, what seems different to me is that there is a counterpoise caused by the presence of many non-indigenes who provide important and valuable skills that are widely acknowledged as being important and valuable.

    Moreover, the public in other countries seems to recognize the importance of being able to directly access world culture through foreign language skills.

    J seems to be rather different in that non-visible foreigners are seemingly far more marginalised, and most J have little ability to use any foreign language.

    — Gonna have to disagree with you about “non-visible foreigners are seemingly far more marginalised”. Proving that that is not necessarily the case (what with visibly-“foreign”-looking Japanese being marginalized like “foreigners” despite J citizenship, a la the Otaru Onsens Case et.al) is the subject of my most recent research. You can read about it hopefully within a year.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    After reading the attached articles that provide the contexts for recent international conflicts, I came to the conclusion that Japan is now losing what make them believe unique about its entire nation due to an ongoing economic stagnation. Japan’s direction to neo-conservatism quite resonates with what’s happening in the west–especially the US, as Pondscum says.

    To some extent, Hashimoto’s radical view on metropolitizing Osaka and controlling the rights of public workers (including schoolteachers in his entire prefecture) makes him look like a kissing cousin of Scott Walker– a notorious Wisconsin governor, or even worse Paul Ryan, a radical Congress budget committee chair & vice presidential nominee(also from Wisconsin). I guess Hashimoto falls between these two guys in terms of political views and age-gap (PS: He is two years younger than Walker, and one year older than Ryan).

    Through the letter of JDG, I can feel how the dynamics of these political tensions impact the Japanese public–especially the life of NJ. It’s so horrific and frightening to see the way the country is shutting down itself from the rest of the world, as Michael Zielenziger argues (http://www.amazon.com/Shutting-Out-Sun-Created-Generation/dp/0385513038).
    I just can’t see Japan today is the same country I had lived in my teens and 20s anymore.

  • Hello Debito et al.
    Thank you for putting up this post Debito. Befu and I in the same sentence! Wow, it’s a shame that I can’t use my real name!

    If I may, I would like to offer some thoughts on the discussion thus far.

    I think that what we are witnessing is a rather unfortunate timing of various elements to create something of a ‘perfect storm’. These elements are;
    1. Korea’s upcoming election leading to bombastic behavior by the Korean PM.
    2. Chinese leadership handover against a background of unrest over domestic issues prompting a tougher approach than usual.
    3. Japanese verbosity as a product of the popularity contest of J-politics, for domestic consumption, with no regard to the impact that this has on other international players.

    The result of this is that whereas all three players have irritated each other over territorial issues since the end of the war, all players have understood the need to avoid escalation. It is unfortunate that neither Korea nor China are able to back down this time due to domestic pressures of leadership changes, and that Japan, having played the ‘small, weak Japan’ card for so long, only has that potential leg of power on which hopeful PM candidates can talk tough. I do not think that the Japanese understand just how dangerous playing with fire is, in this respect.

    There is the very real possibility that all of Japan’s saber-rattling and arrogance over the Senkaku’s is only for domestic effect with no real intention of military action. However, China is not to know this, and in a very real demonstration of ‘constructivist theory’ is obliged to take J-politicians statements as statement of intent for China’s own protection. To the Chinese, the verbal stupidity of nationalist J-politicians may seem to indicate a very real threat of resurgent wartime nationalism that was so bloody aweful for all of asia. I think that it has been established on Debito.org in the past, that Japan has never freed itself from imperial era ideology and attitudes of Japanese racial supremacy. If we have spotted that, then so have the Chinese. They are merely acting according to their worst fears.

    The Chinese military has had many short wars with it’s neighbors since 1945, and took on the UN/US in Korea. More recently, it has enjoyed border conflicts with Russia. Chinese commanders have experience of modern war, that the Japanese are simply lacking. What do the Japanese have? A strong ally? The US is trying to cool this whole situation down not only because the Chinese hold trillions of US debt, but also because it will be rather difficult to convince US voters that American boys need to die for some rocks waaaay far away from Japan. A point that the ever ‘reliable’ J-media fails to convey to the J-public.

    So, apart from an ally, what has Japan got?
    Only the supreme arrogance that they are better because they are Japanese (sound familiar? If it does, then that’s because it’s the same thinking that stopped them from accepting a surrender request in ’44 and saving themselves from USAF bombing). A number of armchair generals (admirals?) on other forums are assured of Japanese naval technology’s supremacy. Do your homework. China has been spending a fortune on building one of the worlds advanced navies. Stealth cruisers, long-range anti-ship missiles, and building the worlds quietest attack submarine. Don’t be fooled by the aircraft carriers, that just a prestige thing.

    I read on this thread comments along the lines of the, never-tiring, ‘but the young people are different!’ (heard that for the last 60 years), and ‘the J-public are against all this, but it’s the old-fashioned politicians, with their out-of-touch views’. Let me address those two viewpoints.

    The J-politicians now being labelled as out-of-touch were amongst the very first, second, or third generations of J-youth to be labelled by observers as ‘so unlike their fathers’, and ‘different’. Yet, here we are, and they are exactly the same. As for being out-of-touch, remember that they were all voted in by the public! Please avoid the fallacy that ‘peace-loving, progressive, and internationally open minded Japanese are being led into this against their will’. This is exactly the same myth used to sell the ‘reverse-course’ to the US public after the war (‘We thought that the Japanese were all savage murderers, but they aren’t see! The peace-loving country was hi-jacked by militarists, is all’). The Japanese are getting the government that they deserve, and in fact, chose. ‘Ah, but maybe they didn’t vote!’ I hear you cry. ‘The one’s that didn’t vote aren’t narrow-minded’. Really? When was the last time you saw Japanese taking to the streets to protect your rights? Never, right? Finger-print scanners? RFID chips in ID cards? I didn’t see any Japanese protesting for my human rights. Apathy is tacit endorsement and support.

    Japanese people have a hard enough time standing up for their own rights, never mind yours (think of service overtime, being told when you are allowed a day off, or the fact that a triple nuclear melt-down is needed to get anyone out on the streets).

    And this leads me to Hashimoto…
    I would resist comparison with Hitler, except that, unlike Hashimoto (who admitted in his ‘comfort women denial’ tweets that he knows nothing of history), I am a firm believer that knowledge of history prevents it’s repetition.
    Hashimoto has not embarked on a genocide yet. But it we can still examine Hitler’s rise to power through extreme popularity, and draw lessons from that. If we fail to use these analytical tools (even if our fears proved unfounded), we would be making a mistake.

    Hashimoto’s poor grasp of history is evident in his statements in the international relations arena, and can be easily explained. He is a product of a post-war J-education system that has actively sought to revise the narrative of the war, and white-wash Japan’s crimes in favor of portraying Japan as the under-dog victim. Hence he is not only KY regarding the international impact of his statements, but totally a product of his times. He may actually be unaware of the 2 UN investigations into the comfort women issue, in much the same way as most Japanese are not aware that the ’45 surrender document quoted the Potsdam Declaration, which in turn quoted the Cairo Declaration, which specifies that;
    “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we (China, Russia, UK and US) determine.”

    It is a failing of the J-education system, and the J-media that the Japanese are not aware of this piece of international law, and rather than seeing the Senkaku’s as territory grabbed during the imperialist-era, instead regard it as an integral piece of historic (and therefore sacred) Japan.

    I apologize in advance for the length of my post.

  • It is quite apparent that Ishihara San uses patriotic rethoric, and stirs up controversy about the Senkaku islands to further his own and his sons political career, without having the best interests of Japan in his mind. Why else would one rake up a controversy, with one of your biggest trading partners when Japan’s current account earnings are diminishing fast, about some uninhabited landmass which brings no revenue to the country.

    This insensitive and foolhardy approach, is meant to take away the attention of people from the real problems in Japan which no politician, however patriotic in his rethoric has had the stomach to solve for the last 20 years. And what are the real problems ? Fixing the National debt , pension, social security , cleaning up,restructuring the zombie banks who hold toxic assets and last but not the least fixing the diminishing population issue through a coherent immigration policy.

    If nothing is done to address the real, issues Japan will soon have to confront with harsh economic realities and pay the price for negligence of it’s incompetent politicians.

  • @Jim di Griz,

    Your understanding of what is really going on behind the scenes here is impressive and I agree mostly with what you have said. I dont agree, however, that the Japanese only have the US as an ally. They also have a very aggressive and nationlistic mindset, capable of turning their neocolonist expansionism into a militaristic one very fast, and they know this. Ishihara commented on how primitive the Chinese still are with their attempts at putting somebody into space and how the Japanese could accomplish the same thing much faster. I think the Japanese are capable of putting weapons into space, but lack the go ahead from the U.S. Ishihara would surely love to be rid of all U.S. bases here and have a go at many radical projects Im sure. I think whats, depending on your perspective, holding Japan back or keeping her in check, is the U.S. , and Ishi is quite resentful of it. His latest tatic was cleverly thought out- buying the rocks, getting JSDF jurisdiction over them, then getting around the U.S. written constitution by luring China in, and then “defending” the islands, since Japan can only defend, offensive is not allowed. This isnt 1940, however, when China was disorganized and Japan could run rampant. What Ishi is doing is uniting the Chinese more, because unlike Japan, they know their history well. Im sure Ishi would love nothing more than to remilitarize, but what he fails to recognize, as does Hashimoto, is that the rest of developing Asia has been going balls to the wall since WW2, to never allow such a tyrant to run all over them. If Japan remilitarized and created an incident to justify some campaign as they did in WW2, it would unite both Koreas, China, Tawain, Singapore and possibly others against Japan. Japan has failed on many fronts since the war. Instead of being like Germany, confronting and acknowledging its past, becoming a progressive democracy, etc, Japan insteads hides behind the US defense sheild and continues to provoke mischief with its right wing politics and is reluctant join the world. In this sense, Japan is its own worst enemy. Its too exhausting for me to try to figure out whats it going to take for Japan to come to terms what everybody else can so clearly see.

  • @Joe

    (Two “Joes”, confusing!)

    When you say of Japan:
    ” They also have a very aggressive and nationlistic mindset, capable of turning their neocolonist expansionism into a militaristic one very fast….”
    what exactly do you mean by Japan’s “neocolonist expansionism”? I see no evidence of anything like that.

  • As predicted!
    J-nationalists venting their impotent nationalistic venom over the Takeshima dispute on…? Any guesses? Yes! Koreans born and living in Japan!


    Nationalists converge on Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown
    KUCHIKOMI SEP. 17, 2012 – 06:33AM JST ( 96 )TOKYO —

    Sandwiched between two major streets running parallel, the “Shin-Okubo Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is home to dozens of Korean-style restaurants and retail shops proffering goods that range from Korean cosmetics to items appealing to fans of “Hanryu” dramas.

    Shukan Kinyobi (Sept 14) reports that on Aug 25, a large demonstration of rightists—who are upset over South Korea’s territorial claims to Takeshima island (referred to as Dokdo in Korean)—marched through the neighborhood. The demonstration, whose organizers had tabbed “The Citizens’ Great March to Subjugate South Korea,” consisted of an estimated 500 demonstrators, many of who waved the militaristic “kyokujitsuki” (rising-sun flag), and who chanted such slogans as “Kankokujin wa kaere” (South Koreans go home) and “Chosenjin wa dete yuke!” (Koreans get out).

    Things got even nastier after the march ended, when the marchers broke off into smaller groups of around 10 and moved from the main drag to the neighborhood’s many small lanes, where they confronted shopkeepers with even more hostile remarks, such as “Chon-ko wa karere” (Go home, you Korean bastard”) or “We’ll kill you.” They also intimidated compatriots they encountered with veiled warnings like “If you’re a Japanese, then don’t come to this area.”

    “It’s very aggravating,” a worker of a street stall selling confections is quoted as saying. “Some young visitors from South Korea got harangued by the protesters. Since that day, the number our customers has tapered off.”

    “It appears that the Zaitokukai (short for Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai or group opposed to special rights for Koreans in Japan) thinks it can build momentum for its movement by harping on the Takeshima and Senkaku issues,” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who authored a book titled “Pursuing the ‘darkness’ of Internet patriots, the Zaitokukai” (Kodansha), about the noisy group that has been boosting its membership through skillful use of the Internet.

    “While I don’t see any signs yet that they are increasing their influence, they still bear watching,” Yasuda adds. “As far as they are concerned, discriminating against the ‘zainichi’ (Koreans in Japan) is everything, and they aren’t terribly concerned about what will become of the disputed territories in the future. But they can use the timing of the dispute as a pretext for pushing their own agenda.”

    Some rightists also provoked clashes in the Chinese enclave adjacent to the north exit of JR Ikebukuro station, resulting in police being summoned.

    When such run-ins occur, however, Shukan Kinyobi notes that it has been rare for Japan’s mainstream media to devote much coverage. And even those who are confronted by the rightists tend to refrain from seeking sympathy from society, perhaps out of fears that any negative publicity will drive away their customers.

    When the Shin-Okubo Merchants’ Association was approached by Shukan Kinyobi for a comment, it declined on the grounds that “We haven’t grasped the details.” The Shinjuku branch of the Zainichi Korean Association replied, “There’s nothing to discuss.” The Chinese in Ikebukuro were also reluctant to speak to reporters.

    A staff member at one Korean firm in Shin-Okubo confided to the magazine, “The South Korean embassy here sent out a warning advisory to Korean businesses and groups to the effect that from Aug 25, we should not approach demonstrators or make inflammatory remarks. ‘Refrain from any activities that would put your safety at risk,’ it advised.

    “If trouble were to break out, nothing good would come from it, as far as we’re concerned,” he added.

    As long as this country has no statute against hate crimes, Shukan Kinyobi opines, this kind of ethnic and racial discrimination will remain out of control. Sixty-seven years since the end of the Pacific War, the issue of “territorial disputes” is being used as a new pretext to abet what are long-term trends.

  • Neocolonism is what Japan has been doing for the last 60 years; expanding their ecomomic power all over asia, where they once used force to meet their objectives. They no longer colonize, but through economic power they have gained influence all over the world. Perhaps neocolonism is the wrong word, but it doesnt require much knowledge of Japan to see that they just turned their military aggression towards economics and have accomplished their original goal of resource aquisition and global domination/influence in the business world. This is no coincidence. My point was that Japan has no real intention of being a Germany or a progressive democracy, they only manipulated what was given to them to fit their own objectives.

  • I also find it interesting, though not suprising, that the media is covering the island dispute 24/7 but Ishihara, the instigator, is never mentioned. Now reaching a climax with U.S. Secdef involved, and nobody is scolding Ishi for his mischief. He must be grining ear to ear.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    #22 While the media (TV and print) may be covering the island issues 24/7, it seems to be focusing on Chinese extremists smashing up supermarkets, (3 separate pages on that in yesterday’s Asahi), but nothing on Jim’s (#20) article.

    Again, I believe it’s smokescreen: stir up the neighbours, get the media to concentrate on their outbursts and ignore all the important local issues.

  • Another article by J-P Lehmann, published in 2006, that is proving eerily prophetic:

    “Japan Vs. China: The Other Clash of Civilizations?”

    The world has been waiting for a long time to witness moves toward real conciliation and integration in Asia. As those get underway in fits and starts, a truly worrisome development is taking shape — with Japan and China increasingly at odds with each other. Jean-Pierre Lehmann explores the possible consequences.


  • @Joe #22

    He gets the mention in this CNN article for being the instigator, so he’s not getting off completely in the international media.


    I think Japan has been more callous than it should have been about the past, but reconciliation is also a two way street. The Chinese seem unlikely to throw away an easy target when they want a distraction from domestic issues. Interesting analysis here:


  • #2 Matthew: I feel for you.
    I would like to offer you some advice/tips. Obviously what you do with them is up to you. PLEASE do not take this as me telling you what to do. I hope my comments are received warmly.

    a. Pay grade = gaikokujin. Ask for clarification. Is there a pay grade chart? If so, request a copy. Clarify where you are in the chart. No such category as “gaikokujin?” Ask that your category be changed to one that is on the pay grade chart. You need to know where you stand. No Japanese person would be comfortable not knowing who is above/below them. This is important! ALL Japanese institutions/organizations have a clear chain of command.

    b. Faculty meetings. Are you not allowed to attend? If not, you should launch a formal complaint, for being excluded based on your race.
    If you are allowed, you should attend each meeting. And take notes. See who speaks out, and who expresses which opinions on various subjects. Look for allies, and offer your support on issues they care about. Make friends, be helpful. Volunteer to help them on anything they need help on. This is how you indebt Japanese people – you help them, then when you require the same, your ‘friends’ will help you.
    Remember this is Japan. Seek out the leaders, and avoid the whiners (in grade school, they are called bully and bullied). Hint: Ishihara Shintaro is a bully.

    c. What you are trying to do (be treated like everyone else) seems simple enough, but to the people you work with, it is a really big deal.

    Misc. stuff your probably already know:
    Don’t shout, yell, or talk loudly.
    Learn what they consider agressive behavior, and don’t do it.
    Be subtle.
    Make as many friends (allies) as you can, at all levels. (i.e., secretaries, admin, assistants, full professors). If everybody likes you, they will be more likely to accommodate your requests. If someone doesn’t like you, go out of your way to say hi to them, forcing them to recognize you.
    Remember that just because you have evolved to a level where you can treat all people equally, many people in Japan have not. If you want them to treat you equally, you will need to become (in their eyes) someone worthy of being treated as a Japanese (i.e. better than everyone else).
    Give orders in Japanese, talk down to your subordinates (you are above them, after all), use chan & kun generously with younger staff, and refer to yourself exclusively by your last name (not first name).
    Further, if someone addresses you by your first name, return the favor, and call them by their first name. If they call you yobi-tsute, do the same to them. If they call you by last name+san, reply in kind (i.e. ACT JAPANESE). I have found this to very effective. Most Japanese people even today have had very few interactions in Japanese with NJ, and many of them are acting on what they have learned in the media “foreigners don’t have manners”, and “we Japanese must call all foreigners by their first names, w/o honorific” – you can fix this quickly.

    Most Japanese people still think that respect is something that is earned (it is not). So you will have to act like someone that they think deserves respect.

    #7 Bob: You obviously do not understand the Tea Party:
    They are not racist.
    They are not anti-immigrant.
    They are for affordable government, and reducing the national debt.
    Opponents of the Tea Party often call them anti-immigrant, when in fact they are anti ILLEGAL immigrant.
    I believe many of you living in Japan know that there is a BIG difference.
    Get your facts straight.

    I like your idea of donating money to right-wing politicians in Japan, then leaking it to the press.

    #18 Joe: I second your praise of Jim di Griz. I disaggree with your analysis of Japan’s situation, however.
    Ishihara and the old guard may still believe that Japan is still all-powerful, but the rest of the Japanese population is more realistic.
    The vast majority of Japanese people are not willing to die for the emperor. They see sacrifice as something everyone talks about, but most are not willing to do.
    Japan’s population is aging.
    Japan blew its wad, so to speak. It had a good run, but it is largely done.
    The things that Japan excelled at, that made it great, are increasingly less important.
    Largely, the conformists are still running the show, which is helping Japan to fall further behind.

    All the older Japanese business people I have polled have insisted that the U.S. military must stay in Japan – they clearly don’t want U.S. troops and money to leave.

    I cannot see any Japanese actions that would reunite North and South Korea.

    #22 Joe: Ishihara played his part. Now he is letting others do their part…

    Thank you, Debito, for the great discussion.

    — We are really digressing. I’ll approve this comment, but no more talk of the Tea Party, please. I think we’re just about done with Matthew’s case as well, sorry. Let that advice suffice.

  • Priceless example of Japan’s ‘victim’ culture;

    ‘The coast guard repeatedly sought to prevent the Taiwanese ships from approaching the islets by spraying water over them.’
    N.B. peace-loving Japanese ‘sprayed water’.

    ‘Taiwanese patrol ships had fired their water cannons at the Japanese patrol boats.’
    N.B. Evil gaijin invaders ‘fired (sic) canons’.

    Surely the two are describing mechanical apparatus that operate on an identical basis?

    Anyway, with the LDP choosing Abe for next PM, look forward to a coalition ‘zombie’ govt. unable to agree on anything except even more regulation of NJ.
    I already think he was chosen as part of a back-room deal. He will do a year as PM, get sick again and step down, and Ishiba or Ishihara will suceed him without ever facing the public vote. Any takers?

  • @Jim,

    Excellent analysis Jim. Always some clever manipulating by this group- first Ishihara manipulates the world to think Japan is the victim when it comes to “his” islands, now another strategy to get his boy in the PM seat. If Abe gets elected (or when, as it seems a sure thing now) watch the fireworks start with China.

  • Jim,

    Your post above, #16, is very interesting, especially where you cite:

    “..Hence he is not only KY regarding the international impact of his statements, but totally a product of his times. He may actually be unaware of the 2 UN investigations into the comfort women issue, in much the same way as most Japanese are not aware that the ’45 surrender document quoted the Potsdam Declaration, which in turn quoted the Cairo Declaration, which specifies that;
    “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we (China, Russia, UK and US) determine.”

    However on the BBC website here:

    They sate that:

    “..After World War II Japan renounced claims to a number of territories and islands including Taiwan in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. But under the treaty the Nansei Shoto islands came under US trusteeship and were then returned to Japan in 1971, under the Okinawa reversion deal…”

    Somewhat at variance with your statement. Care to comment?

  • @ John K #30

    Thanks for your praise.

    I would like to reply to your comment that quotes the BBC News website;

    “..After World War II Japan renounced claims to a number of territories and islands including Taiwan in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. But under the treaty the Nansei Shoto islands came under US trusteeship and were then returned to Japan in 1971, under the Okinawa reversion deal…”

    I followed your link (thank you). This is from a paragraph headed ‘What is Japan’s claim?’ It is followed by another paragraph titled ‘What is China’s claim?’
    Whilst I cannot comment on BBC editorial policy, I think it is clear that your quote does not represent an endorsement by the BBC of the legality of Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, but rather is an attempt by the BBC to summarize the conflicting claims of both parties, in a concise manner, for the benefit of the reader. The BBC website reports both of the opposing legal claims.

    As for;
    “..After World War II Japan renounced claims to a number of territories and islands including Taiwan in the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. But under the treaty the Nansei Shoto islands came under US trusteeship and were then returned to Japan in 1971, under the Okinawa reversion deal…”

    I think that readers should bear in mind that the ’45 surrender document makes it clear that ‘China, Russia, UK and US’ shall determine what constitutes Japanese sovereign territory. ‘Reverse Course’ Cold War imperatives obliging the US to make a uni-lateral decision regarding the ownership of the Senkaku’s (following the defeat of the Nationalist Army on the Chinese mainland, and the post war emergence of PRC). A point not lost on the Chinese Foreign Minister at the UN today, who said;
    ‘Japan’s move was in “outright denial” of its defeat in World War II’.


  • Jim

    “…I think it is clear that your quote does not represent an endorsement by the BBC of the legality of Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands, but rather is an attempt by the BBC to summarize the conflicting claims of both parties, in a concise manner, for the benefit of the reader…”


    What I find most curious, is that, if this “…Nansei Shoto islands came under US trusteeship and were then returned to Japan in 1971..”
    Is correct, then there is a very deafening silence from the US. Since the US acquiesced and is complicit in such a deal, surely the deal, at the time, would have been made public? If not, why is not so now?

    It leaves a very curios taste in ones mouth.

    An interview on the BBC 24hours last week, with an author of a book about the growth of china, saying the same. Which I find rarely discussed in “public”. He very succinctly stated that the issue will continue and continue. It may become less inflammatory over time, but the issue shall always be there, and shall remain so until…Japan recognises its past notably their failure in WWII and their lack of admission for their atrocities committed during the WWII. He cited that Germany was in the same position after WWII, yet the openly admitted their mistakes and their crimes in a wish to move forward. Which of course they have done, unlike Japan.

    I never see this aspect openly debated and debated without constant references to imperialism and cultural “differences” in Japan and Japan being the ‘victum’; which plays well at home, but nowhere else!! To not address it, is very Japanese,….hoping it’ll go away. With the same issue with Russia to the north, this is something the Japanese Govt must address. In not doing so shall make them more isolated and open to criticism than before. With an export dominated economy..i wonder how long they can continue to deny such behaviour to their trading partners.

  • @John K #32

    I agree with you.
    For me, as I mentioned before, one of the most interesting aspects of the Japanese position on this issue is the continued references to the Senkakus (along with the northern islands held by Russia, and the islands held by Korea) as integral parts of historical Japan, rather than as Japanese territory. The fact of Japans historical ownership of all the islands in question is of (at most) 50 years of empire building and taking by force. This emotive language does not help resolve the issue, and is a stunning indicator of the self-delusion that arrises from generations of historical revisionism. It is in the same category as claiming that Antartic whaling ‘is an ancient Japanese tradition’.

  • Jim

    I agree, their constant reference to “historical” Japan is perplexing. The only reason is owing to the wording of “historical” in the UNCLAS in their definition of an archipelago. Because without a reference to “historical”, all the definitions of archipelago and said ownership of such rules Japan out hands down. So their only card to play is say they are historically Japanese.

    As you note, rather than “historically” hunting whales in Antarctica! …Hmm..funny, don’t see references going back 4-500years of that one!!

    It is the same for the Falkland Islands. The French were the very first to land there, “owned” it for some 10-20years, then the British arrived. After some time the French basically said ok you have it..it’s too far away and has nothing of value. This was some 50-100years before Argentina even knew the islands existed! Thus “historically” Agentina cannot lay claim to them, and the British asked the Islanders, who do you wish to rule you, UK, case closed.

    Thus “historical” for said reason are written into UNCLAS…i.e. if no one else laid claim to the islands or no known indigenous inhabitants exists, then one can claim ownership (by whatever means), as opposed to ownership by force/coercion. Japan does not fulfill this criterion for said islands.


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