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  • Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 8th, 2013

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    Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer
    By ARUDOU, Debito
    The Japan Times, February 4, 2013
    Column 60 for the Japan Times Community Page
    Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/02/04/issues/keep-abes-hawks-in-check-or-japan-and-asia-will-suffer, version with links to sources below

    On Jan. 1, The Japan Times’ lead story was “Summer poll to keep Abe in check.” It made the argument that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party alliance falls short of a majority in the Upper House, so until elections happen this summer he lacks a “full-fledged administration” to carry out a conservative agenda.

    I believe this is over-optimistic. The LDP alliance already has 325 seats in Japan’s overwhelmingly powerful Lower House — safely more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes. Moreover, as Japan’s left was decimated in December’s elections, about three-quarters of the Lower House is in the hands of avowed hard-right conservatives. Thus Abe already has his mandate.

    So this column will focus on what Abe, only the second person in postwar Japanese history given another chance at PM, is up to this time.

    Recall how Abe fluffed his first chance between 2006-7 — so badly that he made it onto a list of “Japan’s top 10 most useless PMs” (Light Gist, Sept. 27, 2011) on these pages. The Cabinet he selected was a circus of embarrassments (e.g., after his corrupt agriculture minister claimed ¥5 million for “office utility expenses,” the replacement then claimed expenses for no office at all, and the next replacement only lasted a week), with gaffe after gaffe from an elitist old-boy club whittling away Abe’s approval ratings.

    Abe himself was famously incapacitated with diarrhea (spending hours a day on the john) as well as logorrhea, where his denials of wartime sexual slavery (i.e., the “comfort women”) were denounced even by Japan’s closest geopolitical allies. Finally, after the LDP was trounced in a 2007 Upper House election, Abe suddenly resigned one week after reshuffling his Cabinet, beginning a pattern of a one-year tenure for all subsequent Japanese PMs.

    However, Abe did accomplish one important conservative reform in 2006: amending the Fundamental Law of Education. The law now clearly states that a right to education in Japan is restricted to “us Japanese citizens” (ware ware Nihon kokumin — i.e., excluding foreigners), while references to educational goals developing individuality have been removed in favor of education that transmits “tradition,” “culture” and “love of nation.”

    In other words, building on Japan’s enforced patriotism launched by former PM Keizo Obuchi from 1999 (e.g., schoolteachers and students are now technically required to demonstrate public respect to Japan’s flag and national anthem or face official discipline), vague mystical elements of “Japaneseness” are now formally enshrined in law to influence future generations.

    That’s one success story from Abe’s rightist to-do list. He has also called for the “reconsideration” of the 1993 and 1995 official apologies for wartime sexual slavery (even pressuring NHK to censor its historical reportage on it in 2001), consistently denied the Nanjing Massacre, advocated children’s textbooks instill “love” of “a beautiful country” by omitting uglier parts of the past, and declared his political mission as “recovering Japan’s independence” (dokuritsu no kaifuku) in the postwar order.

    Although LDP leaders were once reticent about public displays of affection towards Japan’s hard right, Abe has been more unabashed. Within the past six months he has made two visits to controversial Yasukuni Shrine (once just before becoming LDP head, and once, officially, afterwards). Scholar Gavan McCormack unreservedly calls Abe “the most radical of all Japanese post-1945 leaders.”

    Now Abe and his minions are back in power with possibly the most right-wing Cabinet in history. Academic journal Japan Focus last week published a translation of an NGO report (japanfocus.org/events/view/170) outlining the ultraconservative interest groups that Abe’s 19 Cabinet members participate in. Three-quarters are members of groups favoring the political re-enfranchisement of “Shinto values” and Yasukuni visits, two-thirds are in groups for remilitarizing Japan and denying wartime atrocities, and half are in groups seeking sanitation of school textbooks, adoption of a new “unimposed” Constitution, and protection of Japan from modernizing reforms (such as separate surnames for married couples) and outside influences (such as local suffrage for foreign permanent residents).

    Abe alone is a prominent leader (if not a charter member) of almost all the ultra-rightist groups mentioned. Whenever I read rightwing propaganda, Abe’s face or name invariably pops up as a spokesman or symbol. He’s a big carp in a small swamp, and in a liberal political environment would have been consigned to a radical backwater of fringe ideologues.

    But these are dire times for Japan, what with decades of stagnation, insuperable natural and man-made disasters, and the shame of no longer being Asia’s largest economy. The glory of Japan’s regional peerlessness is gone.

    That’s why I have little doubt that the LDP saw this perfect storm of 3/11 disasters (which, given how corrupt the unelected bureaucracy has been after Fukushima, would have led to the trouncing of any party in power) as perfect timing to reinstall someone like Abe. Why else, except for Abe’s thoroughbred political pedigree (grandson of a suspected Class-A war criminal turned postwar PM, and son of another big LDP leader whose name is on international fellowships) and sustained leadership of back-room interest groups, would they choose for a second time this jittery little man with a weak stomach?

    Why? Because LDP kingpins knew that people were so desperate for change last year they would have elected a lampshade. After all, given the nature of parliamentary systems, people vote more for (or, in this case, against) a party, less for an individual party leader. Moreover, Abe, at first glance, does not seem as extreme as the “restorationists” (Shintaro Ishihara et al) who wish to take Japan back to prewar glories by banging war drums over territorial sea specks. So, the lesser of two evils.

    But look at the record more closely and these “liberal democrats” and restorationists are actually birds of a feather. Now more powerful than ever, they’re getting to work on dismantling postwar Japan. Abe announced on Jan. 31 that he will seek to amend Article 96 of the Constitution, which currently requires a two-thirds Diet majority to approve constitutional changes. That’s entirely possible. Then the rest of Japan’s “Peace Constitution” will follow.

    So I end this month’s column with a caution to outside observers:

    The current Abe administration is in pole position to drive Japan back to a xenophobic, ultra-rightist, militaristic Japan that we thought the world had seen the last of after two world wars. Abe can (and will, if left to his own devices) undo all the liberal reforms that postwar social engineers thought would forever overwrite the imperialist elements of Japanese society. In fact, it is now clear that Japan’s conservative elite were just biding their time all along, waiting for their rehabilitation. It has come.

    One of the basic lessons of chess is that if you allow your opponent to accomplish his plans, you will lose. If Abe is not kept in check, Asia will lose: Japan will cease to be a liberal presence in the region. In fact, given its wealth and power in terms of money and technology, Japan could become a surprisingly destabilizing geopolitical force. Vigilance, everyone.

    ===============================

    Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012′s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp .

    ENDS

    49 Responses to “Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer””

    1. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I was wondering why there’s nobody here leaving the comments so far, but sooner I found out there’s something going on out there. The JT website changed their web design since last month by allowing the readers to make opinions and comments on the article published online–just like yahoo or Japan Today. I’m not surprised why it’s quiet here–people are discussing each other on the issue over there. And some wacky, creepy apologists are pitching in to make it home by spitting phlem on the floor under familiar monkier. These theory nazists know they can’t crash the gate of this website anymore so they choose the JT website as their another venue to spread their demagogue. Looks like JT wants to reflect opinions from netizen but I’m not so sure if they are capable of teaching these disgruntled losers a lesson. Very few of them are talking about the content of the article, anyway.

      I am reading Thomas Frank’s writings on culture wars and conservative backlash, so I’m clicked with the tone of Abe’s saber-rattling pretty much. Especially “The Wrecking Crew” may best fit into Abe regime regarding his political maneuvering to revert the state of Japanese citizenship to the 19th century.

    2. Joe Says:

      @Loverilakkuma
      Or maybe folks are tired of coming on here trying to offer an opinion which doesn’t quite chime with the recent tendency to mock everything and everyone Japanese, and by extension, anybody who might have a good experience to offer, or might be actively enjoying life here, and being told they’re “apologists”: that magic new word that appeared here recently and means “anyone who disagrees with me and people who think exactly like me.”

      Maybe people are tired of being accused of being child abusers for raising kids here, or of being told that, actually their kids aren’t happy, they’re just unwilling to talk about their miserable existence, or of being told that actually, their co-workers and others around them are full of contempt and hatred for them, but that their Japanese ability isn’t sufficient to grasp that contempt.

      Or maybe it’s having it suggested to them that they don’t actually live in Japan, because they don’t experience constant China-bashing from their very internationally-minded, intelligent colleagues. Or perhaps it’s being told basically to go home because they can’t possibly be happy here, they don’t fit in (just what they’d expect to here from the nastiest, most bigotted oyaji on the block).

      So many possibilities ….

    3. Kaerimashita Says:

      The effort the apologists (and probably some Japanese) spend in upvoting their own comments while mass downvoting Fight Back and JDG’s comments is amusing and sad. Their comments to deny acknowledgment of Debito being Japanese is just asinine.

      One wonders why the apologists’ comments have few to none downvotes? The rest of us don’t want to waste time on such petty things.

      Abe definitely seems to be even more active in getting his and the right’s agenda out compared to his first run, which says a lot.

      ” If Abe is not kept in check, Asia will lose: Japan will cease to be a liberal presence in the region. In fact, given its wealth and power in terms of money and technology, Japan could become a surprisingly destabilizing geopolitical force.”

      I’m wondering who could keep him in check. US Gov or any Western entities just doesn’t look anywhere near up to the task. My concern is who will succeed him after this year (the greater of the two evils?) and carry on this agenda, or worse, push it even further.

    4. Bayfield Says:

      “Or maybe folks are tired of coming on here trying to offer an opinion which doesn’t quite chime with the recent tendency to mock everything and everyone Japanese, and by extension, anybody who might have a good experience to offer, or might be actively enjoying life here”

      Well, I certainly don’t and do not fit the category of trying to put down everything Japan or Japanese. I do like Japan but not to the point of being a disillusioned “Japanophile” or ultranationalist. I accept that Japan is not perfect and does have some problems that need pointing out.

      When certain things like politics are not perfect, but can be improved upon, then criticism is usually necessary in order to make an issue known so that the issue may be improved upon. But that would be difficult when even the slightest of criticism tend to make apologists and nationalists turn it around and “mock everything” NJ, particularly chinese and korean.

      With the increasing tensions in the pacific even non-political innocent small talk such food, anime, hotels & onsen, or even video games can easily trigger a full blown anti-chinese/anti-korean rant. Alot of the times I find myself wondering: “how did a discussion like this ever turn into a anti-chinese/anti-korean bashing fest???”

      One thing I am most offended with apologists and some japanese is that they bash even chinese and koreans who love Japan and who bear no ill will towards Japan.

      If apologists and and japanese alike reject even open-minded and forward thinking chinese and koreans and label them as enemies then I don’t see any progress will be made anytime soon in repairing Japan’s relationship with its neighbors.

      After reading through most of the things apologists say regarding politics, I get the impression that apologists simply don’t want Japan to make peace with its neighbors. The apologists simply need enemies to project their frustration on.

    5. Jim Di Griz Says:

      The only comment that I could possibly make it to say that I 100% agree with everything Debito has said in this JBC.

    6. snowman Says:

      Excellent article Debito!

      Doesn’t reading the apologists’ comments make you feel nauseated?? It does me. Anyway, keep on doing your great work.

    7. mark Says:

      Nothing worse than the current political situation could have happened. Abe and his gang only want one thing: starts with “w”. The public voted them back in for lack of any other option, which is very weak considering who is completely to blame for the mess this country finds itself in now. i see no future here and am looking to leave, and have noticed a worse attitude by people in public, at work and so on, since the election. There are still a lot of sensitive caring people in this country, unfortunately the societal norms and conditioning are so strong that everyone is basically forced to sing the party line. It is a sad state of affairs and i’m not looking forward to new standards of enforced patriotism, historical revisionism and etc. mandatory judo classes. i will take my children from this country soon, best of luck to japan.

    8. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Joe #2

      Maybe you’re right.

      Doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
      This is a website, with some discussion taking place. Debito is fairly relaxed in his moderation (IMHO), and Debito.org is all the better for it.
      Some people might not like some of the comments. Sure, I understand. There are plenty of comments I don’t agree with, but I don’t throw my teddy in the corner and vow never to come back, I try to put up a logical reason why I think those comments are wrong. That’s what people should do, isn’t it?

      I think that there has been a sea-change in the tone of some of the threads here. I think that it is a good thing, and ultimately, it is a reflection of the much wider changes taking place in Japan. With Japan’s massive lurch to the extreme right, it would be rather facile if the debate on Debito.org continued to work based on 1980′s preconceptions of how Japan is ‘slowly but surely’ internationalizing, when what we see in the election of Abe is an overt admission of, and endorsement of, Japanese fascism.

    9. Mike Says:

      ” it is now clear that Japan’s conservative elite were just biding their time all along, waiting for their rehabilitation”

      This is something I have suspected for many years. Experiences in Japan make you wonder who is behind the control and manipulation of the bubble world Japanese live in. It explains why society in Japan seems to be like an accordian; when times are good, let the foriegers in, when bad, show our true feelings towards them. There doesnt seem to be any move towards progressive change here. I personally dont think its possible in the near future.

    10. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Kaerimashita, #3

      I just saw several comments made by some disgruntled posters on the JT forum. It’s obvious that the forum is dominated by theory Nazis and losers huddling in a rogue stalking site(yes, they make it very clear in their website and practice what they preach by assaulting debito.org and any articles that draw their interest.), since their nasty, illogical, irrational comments receive positive voting while our comments receive more negative voting. I don’t know how many newcomers are willing to jump in the forum. I guess some of them may have read the postings and gave their sympathy vote(to some of us), but so far it seems very small compared to obsessive online stalkers and trolls who declare war against debito.org and the JT.

    11. Jim Di Griz Says:

      This is interesting…

      Myself, Eric C, Fight Back (IIRC), and I believe Debito also, have commented that Japanese culture has a strong element of (if not ‘is based on’) bullying.
      Just look at all those hierarchical power relationships that have no basis in law or go against peoples rights as defined by the constitution; sempai/kohai, teacher/student, office manager/salaryman, grumpy old git/everyone else, etc….

      Well, bullying in sports is, according to this article, a ‘hang on’ from Japanese militarism.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/02/11/national/violent-coaching-rooted-in-militarism/#.URk7ohwSGkM

      Politicians and sports bodies have loved to bang on recently about how they are against bullying, but surely it is plain to see that in the light of the LDP governments affiliations and interest groups, they would absolutely have no desire to end bullying if its root cause is J-militarism. In fact, wouldn’t they actively seek to prevent an end to that culture of bullying, since it conflicts with their ultra-rightist agenda?

      The proof is in the pudding. For all the talk about ending bullying in sports, it continues, cases continue to come to light, and even the Women’s Olympic Judo team complaints were made two months before any action was taken, and only after the news broke in the foreign press and threatened to cast a shadow over Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid.

      Prediction; whatever you hear politicians say about bullying at all levels of Japanese sports, cases will continue to come to light since that kind of bullying is a symptom of the very type of society that the right-wingers have been waiting for a chance to re-create for the last 68 years. Maybe soon they will just find a way to change the constitution and education laws to make that type of abuse ‘not bullying’ and those victims that can’t take it will in some way be denigrated for not having ‘Japanese character’.

    12. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Loverilakkuma #1

      I think that over at JT the apologists are too busy blowing their wad with excitement (after all, here is a chance for the shameless attention whores to publicly bask in the reflected light of Debito that they so much envy) to make readers bother to comment; the average guy doesn’t need the hassle.

      The apologists have quickly passed from attacking the JBC and gone directly into criticizing the author; Debito’s not Japanese, he is Japanese, but not in Japan (shouldn’t have the right to a point of view?), Debito is illiterate in Japanese, one poster even suggesting that all non-asians shouldn’t be entitled to a point of view. All very twelve-year-old-I’m-a-tough-guy-behind-the-keyboard stuff.

      It’s interesting that for about the first 4 or 5 days, Fight Back and I were almost (but not entirely) the only ones responding to their attacks, which lead to accusations of ‘sock-puppetry’ from Mainwaring (Ken Y-N), and all of the Inoue/Havil sock-puppets. Two (2!) people agree with Debito?!? MUST be a sock-puppet!! LOL!

      After the apologists lay out all their character assassination cliches this months, when they repeat it all next month, the casual reader will see it for what it is; unrelated to the content of the column, and a personal grudge against the writer. Right now, the apologists are too giddy with excitement at having their word appear on the same screen as Debito’s.

    13. Joe Says:

      Readers of Debito’s site, it’s time to wake up to the truth: Fight Back is not real. Here’s the evidence:

      1) The name. “Fight Back”, are you serious?
      Could there be a less mature, silly, petty moniker out there? It’s like a KKK member calling himself “White Knight”, or an anti-Socialist choosing “Red-basher”. Kind of the name a group of people would come up with given the task “What’s the stupidest, most laughable name you can come up with?”. Nobody serious would choose it.

      2) The timing.
      Fight Back’s posts have only started appearing since the demise of a famous, specifically anti-Debito site. Almost as if a bunch of guys who enjoyed ranting against this site suddenly found themselves without an outlet for their fun, and decided to think up a new way to make trouble here.

      3) The posts.
      Let’s look at some quotations from Fight Back, and try and imagine that they were made by a normal, rational human being:

      “A fair deal for all and a call to be vigilant in the face of rampant Japanese nationalism makes eminent sense to me and most of the intelligentsia of the NJ community. It’s time to purge this Apologist nonsense that has gained so much traction through the sheer art of noise.”

      What kind of arrogant attitude leads anyone to call themselves “the intelligentsia of the NJ community”? What kind of person seriously calls for a “purge”, given its horrible Stalinist associations, in this day and age?

      “The sheer fact is, that if it weren’t for Debito’s vigilance there would be no-one to stop Abe’s hawks rounding up, deporting, or even detaining NJ at will,”

      Is that meant to be taken seriously, even for a second?

      “I think Debito has earned the right to be free from criticism”

      This is the clincher for me. What supporter of whomever would ever say this and not expect to be ridiculed?

      4) The lack of detail.
      Fight Back never mentions specific cases or gives away personal details. Every post is a massively sarcastic hymn to Debito. Exactly what you’d expect of a poster who doesn’t actually exist.

      5) The shift to the Japan Times.
      Why is it that suddenly Fight Back has stopped posting on this site and gone over to JT? Could it be that Debito doesn’t allow some of Fight Back’s posts through, on the grounds that they’re embarrassingly sycophantic and just plain idiotic? Thus thwarted, off Fight Back goes to a less discriminating site, safe in the knowledge that some people will publish any kind of bull. And this despite an avowed admiration and respect for Debito and his site.

      No, sorry “Fight Back”. You’re obviously a troll, bent on the destruction of this site. I suspect you’re a bunch of three or four blokes sharing a computer, missing your “anti-Debito site” (we all remember the name) and wetting yourselves laughing every time I come on here attacking you, or Jim comes on here defending you. You’ve had your fun and you’ve done a pretty good job for a while. Hats off to you.

      Now piss off.

    14. Markus Says:

      @Joe (#2) “Or maybe folks are tired of coming on here trying to offer an opinion which doesn’t quite chime with the recent tendency to mock everything and everyone Japanese, and by extension, anybody who might have a good experience to offer, or might be actively enjoying life here”

      I have thought about this, and why I have such a hard time accepting the positive anecdotes about life in Japan as a sign that “it’s not all bad.”

      For me, it all comes down to Theodor W. Adorno’s famous sentence, “Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im falschen”, which translates to “There is no right life in the wrong one.” (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Es_gibt_kein_richtiges_Leben_im_falschen

      Some people can delude themselves into thinking that if the food is tasty, the shopping is great, the salaries are high, and the social defamation is easier to bear than back home because it’s “just because I’m a foreigner”, then it’s OK to live as if Japan wasn’t a xenophobic society run by anti-democratic, unaccountable forces, ripe with racism and other very basic moral deficiencies that we have mostly overcome in the Western countries.

      There is something deeply wrong with modern Japan, and the xenophobia towards Non-Japanese is just a very minor aspect of it. The Japanese are socially conditioned to not see the bleak reality, but they must know it. Yet, they can’t just “go home” when the sobering realisation sets in – that’s why they commit suicide in droves. And I think that’s why they are so puzzled by Non-Japanese who say they “love Japan” and want to stay here long-term.

    15. Fight Back Says:

      Actually the anti-Debito website is alive and well, they apparently believe Jim Di Griz and myself to be the same person. I can assure you we are not. These kinds of wild claims are what I would expect from the apologists, not from a supporter of Debito.org

      Not that it’s any of your business but I have shared quite a lot of my personal experiences on this site, including my divorce and the discrimination I have suffered at my workplace.

    16. Bayfield Says:

      Joe,maybe you could be right, now that I think about it.

      It is possible that for the apologists who have evidence and reality being stacked against them may be turning to a new type of tactic by reverse-psychology. i.e. pretend to join your rival then say things that kinda support your rival’s goals but discredit your rival by making yourself look like a fool.

      You missed a more important bit. Here is from fight-back’s JT comments:

      fight-back quote number 1:
      “I strenuously disagree. Debito Arudou is a well-respected academic in his field and a columnist for the Japan Times. If he says it’s a fact then it’s a fact.”

      Here the guy with “fight back” pseudonym is trying to discredit debito.org by making it seem as if people at debito.org are a group of egoists claiming to be always right and never wrong. I certainly dont see it that way, but this guy’s claim of “if he says it’s a fact then it’s a fact.” is an attempt to lure naive JT readers into thinking debito is some sort of absolutist and is therefore unreliable or something along those lines.

      fight-back quote number 2:
      “I’m sure we all know one or two NJ who denigrate Debito, let’s make this unacceptable in today’s society.”

      Hidden in this phrase, this “fight-back” guy is sending a message attempting to declare debito.org as an oppressor of free speech by making criticism “unacceptable” as the quote says. By pretending to be one of Debito’s allies, fight-back is making himself appear as if he is a radical and as a consequence, smears Debito’s image.

      fight back quote #3
      “We need to be as vigilant as he says to.”

      This phrase here seems the most obvious and self-explainatory as to what fight-back is attempting to do. An attempt at making debito.org appear some totalitarian/authoritarian organization with the obvious “just do as we say” reference.

      fight back quote #4
      “Many NJ in Japan have already felt the heat being turned up with more aggressive attitudes by the civilians and the requirement to join in anti-Chinese sentiment.”

      A little tricky for someone new to the net and not knowing much about Japanese culture. After analyzing this quote further, I noticed it is a blatant denial of the existence of anti-chinese sentiment in Japan. Difficult to explain but I just have this gut feeling that this is somehow what fight-back is aiming to do in this quote, denying the existence anti-chinese sentiment.

      But at the same time this quote is sad in a way that it is mostly true that Sinophobia has become the norm of Japan now and people are pressured to hate China. But I don’t like the way fight-back words it. It seems almost at the same time, fight-back is trying to say that anti-chinese sentiment is not really japan’s fault, just as the popular saying goes: “sho-ga-nai”. As well as a likely attempt to blame chinese for anti-chinese sentiments in japan.

      This is because with “sho-ga-nai” etiquette, problems given the “sho-ga-nai” label tend to get shafted and often onto scapegoats as in “sho-ga-nai its not our fault, the problem came from somebody else”. At worst, fight back may be trying to send an anti-chinese message by disguising it as a message that pretends to be anti-racist.

      Rereading what I have quoted from fight-back, it does seem more and more like the writing of an apologist. Maybe apologists are thinking its easier discrediting people via character/organization assassinations than confronting hard evidence head on?

      The remaining apologists on JT haven’t changed though, seems as usual, all posts attempting to criticize debito turns out to be only posts that shifts blame of Japan’s problems onto its neighbors. Its interesting that JT is letting people post and comment, but its pretty bland and turning out exactly like the comments you see on JapanToday, JapanProbe, SankakuComplex, etc.

      Almost all the counterarguments so far from apologists can basically be summed up to one phrase: “Japan is perfect, its China and Korea that is the problem” or something to that effect. The usual, bland, repetitive and often sadistically provocative junk you would expect from an apologist or brainwashed Japanese.

    17. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Fight Back #14

      I’m not you. (^-^)b

    18. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Markus, #14

      I hear you. I think this boils down to Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment”(1944). (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic_of_Enlightenment)
      Although their study primarily focuses on European historical context and critique its heyday and decline–i.e., how the Age of Enlightenment failed with the rise of Socialism and Stalinism, it pretty much reflects on the problems many countries have today as democratic state of capitalism. I especially like their argument that “myth is already enlightenment, and enlightenment reverts to mythology” (p.xviii). That well explains an unchanging cultural state of Japan, doesn’t it?

    19. Winning Gold in Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      The problem with Adorno and Horkheimer were that they were total elitists. Anything less than reading Tolstoy and then hanging around with their “Enlightened” mates discussing how his novels were a commentary on the meaning of life and inexplicable love was dismissed as mere trash. It’s right there in the most famous chapter of the Dialectic of Enlightenment on the “Culture Industry.” Also, their most famous acolyte was Noam Chomsky, who often wrote about how being overly critical of Japanese nationalism was a way for liberal Westerners to feel good about the fact that they weren’t being critical of their own leaders.

      http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19950730.htm

      Chomsky has a point, but A&H are not really my cup of tea. It’s better to look at theories that allow for pleasure in the mundane forms of entertainment, tasty food and great shopping that DO make Japan a great place to live, without saying that indulging in these “vices” constitutes giving up your soul or waiving your right to resist. In fact, there is something to be said about turning these forms of discourse and engagement against the powers that be and stretching the common sense in your direction. Give me Gramsci over A&H any day. Or for that matter Paul Kuhn:

      “Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii, es gibt kein Bier / D’rum fahr’ ich nicht nach Hawaii, d’rum bleib ich hier.”

      – Talk about elitism. If you wish to cite somebody in another language than English or Japanese, kindly render it into English.

      As for this tangent about academics, bring it back to the topic of this blog entry or further comments will not be approved.

    20. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Winning Gold in Dressage Doesn’t Count, #19

      Wow. Do you really have to be so hostile about Frankfurt School folks simply because of their belonging??? I don’t understand your definition of elitism in the first place. You seem to gripe about them based on where they stand rather than what they saw and write, as you say “A&H is not your cup of tea.” I guess you don’t seem to like their followers–i.e.,Harbermas, Benjamin, and Mercuse, either. Who cares? Their work is still considered important among many academics around the world today, as it directly talks about the problem with development of capitalism that affects the living standard of people or the community. And some people in Japan take it very seriously. Why? Because Japan is a country that has been embracing the western idea of democracy and capitalism for over a half century. Japanese people know what the Lost Decade means. They experienced the sense of loss in the 90s while indulging in cultural consumption and information technology. You don’t have to be an elitist to learn who A&H and their contemporaries and successors are.

      Furthermore, you seem to have an issue with liberals by citing Chomsky’s article. Sorry, I disagree. For NJ, I don’t think it is their political affiliations that will make much difference in their respective position on Japan. Who is saying that anyone who criticizes Japan is liberal and anyone who defends Japan is conservative? On what grounds?

    21. Winning Gold in Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      Sorry. I thought I made it quite clear that I was speaking to Markus, who obviously does know German. The quote is as follows: “There is no beer on Hawaii, there is no beer. That’s why I’m not going to Hawaii, that’s why I’m staying here.” It’s a riff on something Markus quoted before, and a line from a popular German song. It doesn’t quite work as well when translated and explained, given that any German who knows it, knows it in a certain context. However, my use of it here was to emphasize how popular practices that fit “national” behavior–which Adorno and Horkheimer would dismiss as part of a conformist “culture industry”–may well be more satisfying personally than searching for places where the grass is greener or the sun hotter. Anyway, point taken about tangents. Consider me chastised!

    22. Bayfield Says:

      Does anyone feel that Noam Chomsky seems kinda “apologetic” here?

      This is a bit out of date:
      http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19950730.htm

      also with:
      “Not long before, Nicholas Kristof, the Tokyo correspondent of the New York Times, reported a poll showing that the Japanese ‘believe four to one that their government has not adequately compensated the people of countries that Japan invaded or colonised’.”

      The numbers don’t really add up, also this was in 1995, shortly after Japan’s market bubble. Those poll results don’t mean anything today anymore where I think today it is likely that “the Japanese four to one” are accusing their neighbors of “making up history” and that there is nothing to apologies for. Something along those lines is more likely then Japan accepting accepting any wrongdoing.

      The fact the the three stooges (Abe, Ishihara, Hashimoto) being voted into the government shows that the Japanese are not as repentant of their past as Chomsky thinks they are.

      Seems like Chomsky has also became somewhat corrupted along the way in his anti-american activism. After reading another article, it seems like he is also in favor of Japan’s Co-Prosperity Sphere song and dance to a point.

      http://www.chomsky.info/books/dissent03.htm

      “Had the Japanese not been so murderous and near genocidal in their conquest of Asia, they might have had more Asian support. They did gain a lot of support in the countries that they invaded, like Indonesia. A lot of the Asian nationalists supported them. It was only when they showed themselves to be so utterly brutal that they lost most but not all of that support. They were regarded in essence as liberators, getting rid of the white man who’d been on our neck forever. So it’s a complicated story.”

      It seems that Noam Chomsky has completely brought into the whole concept of the east-asia co-properity propaganda, hook, line and sinker. Mr.Chomsky ignores that fact that not a single part of the co-properity agenda was meant to be in favor of anyone non-Japanese. The “allies” and “friends” that the Japanese made were only a matter of interests. The Japanese, especially during the 1930s do not view NJ as human. Noam also left out the fact that the Showa era civilian government was practically taken over by the military. Imperial Japan’s goal was to rule asia with everyone below them, not “equal” to them. Even the average modern Japanese do not view NJ as an equal human being deserving of equal rights and respect, so why would the Japanese back then view NJ as any better?? The Japanese never treated their own (Ainu, Burakumin and sometimes Okinawan) as equals to begin with, treating NJ equally will be the last thing that is on Japan’s mind.

      Like any a good apologist would do, it seems Chomksy is also trying to shuffle the blame of WWII onto the Americans and making Japan out to be an aggressor.

      Another thing that scares me is how Noam Chomsky is also a professor that teaches at MIT. A perfect place with a perfect kind of audience to spout his apologism too, in academia. I also find it disgusting how Japanese apologism is accepted in colleges as valid and legit academia. If Noam Chomksy were to spout this kind of apologetic filth about Nazi-Germany instead of Imperial Japan, he would have lost his job and have his reputation ruined in no time flat.

      Why would someone so far to the left like Noam Chomsky support Japan, which is very right-wing if not to the far-right?

      Also unlike other apologists who blame China and Korea for Japan’s problems, I notice Chomsky shuffles the blame onto America. His previous works tell me that he is very against the Bush regime and the republican media such as Fox News. Certainly doesn’t make sense to for him to support pro-Japan, which is essentially the Bush regime of the east, and the NHK being the Japanese equivalent of Fox News. What is his angle exactly???

    23. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Bayfield #22

      “Had the Japanese not been so murderous and near genocidal in their conquest of Asia, they might have had more Asian support. They did gain a lot of support in the countries that they invaded, like Indonesia. A lot of the Asian nationalists supported them. It was only when they showed themselves to be so utterly brutal that they lost most but not all of that support.”

      I’m reading it without context, but seems pretty far from apologism to me. Maybe (again, having not read a lot of Chomsky) are you sure he isn’t blaming the US ‘reverse course’?

    24. DeBourca Says:

      @loverilakkuma 20:

      Great post. I fully agree.

    25. Baudrillard Says:

      @Bayfield

      I think Keegan is more the apologist (quoted in the first Chomsky link);

      According to Keegan, it is a Japanese tribal custom, ‘not to admit that the tribe itself has done wrong, either in the present or the past. It would indeed be wrong to make such an admission; wrong for the tribe, wrong for any individual member’.

      So let me get this straight. An NJ (Keegan) is able to understand the “unique Japanese culture” that usually NJs cannot understand, because he is making excuses for their behavior and groupthink.

      Stereotypes and generalizations aside, he sounds like a J apologist of the first degree. As a reward,perhaps J revisionists will be prepared to consider his application for citizenship once he turns 80 or so.

    26. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Bayfield, #22

      The context Chomsky looked at provides a different political landscape from now, so I don’t think his view on Japan at that time is extended to current regime. Remember Japan had a leader from opposing party and it was the year when Japanese Prime Minister (Tomiichi Murayama) made an official apology to Asian countries. He probably thought Japan was ready to accept its past mistake by changing its direction since 1993 Kono Statement on comfort women. Also, a tricky part is that many Asian countries during the wartime had an autocratic regime, which was pretty much nasty and cruel to civilians just like China, Korea, and Japan. I wouldn’t be surprised that other Asian countries held similar nationalistic sentiments. Some anti-government leaders even welcomed Japan’s intervention.(e.g. Chinese collaborators in brutal killings of citizens/soldiers in/after Nanjing massacre.) Nationalistic leaders do not necessarily hold the same visions with citizens.

      I agree Chomsky was/is naive about Japan’s problematic relations with international community, similar to Paul Krugman, in this respect, but I don’t think he deserves blame for being an apologist. He’s really good at analyzing America’s problems critically and interpretively. One big difference is that he looks broadly at America’s problems in domestic and international contexts–rather than narrowing down to the Asia/Pacific or international relation with Japan. I think this is a matter of his choice.

    27. Bayfield Says:

      “The context Chomsky looked at provides a different political landscape from now, so I don’t think his view on Japan at that time is extended to current regime.”

      Well, I guess if the context was meant to be refering explicitly to the time period of Japan’s economic boom prior to the “lost decade” then it makes sense. Perhaps it was the economic prosperity back then that kept Japan’s xenophobia dormant.

      I guess its the rarity of Japan’s tolerance and tolerant times that makes these articles about Japan seem almost “out of character” when describing Japan that it is easy to mistake for apologism.

      “I’m reading it without context, but seems pretty far from apologism to me. Maybe (again, having not read a lot of Chomsky) are you sure he isn’t blaming the US ‘reverse course’?”

      Perhaps, but I am thinking the US role was simply accelerating the process of Japanese imperialism.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genyosha
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okinawa
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hideyoshi

      U.S. does have a role in some of Japan’s problems, but even before the the introduction of Perry there has been people like Hideyoshi and some earlier who had ideas of expansionism. The U.S. gave them the tools necessary to carry imperialism out to its fullest extent.

      If Chomksy’s goal is to state the the U.S. isn’t completely blameless then I guess he is correct on that and that I may have misinterpreted him on that part. I do agree with his view that war shouldn’t be viewed in a black and white scenario.

    28. Winning Gold in Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      Don’t know that Chomsky could be more confident in 1995 that Japan would adhere to its responsible stance on apologies than he could now. In 1995 Japan had only just issued the Kono Statement two years before and the Murayama statement was still fresh. I don’t think that the government had issued its official position on the Nanjing massacre (i.e. that the massacre did indeed take place), as the Nanjing issue would only seriously raise its head in the late 1990s. Indeed, the majority party in Murayama’s coalition was still the LDP and many conservative government politicians were clearly upset at the apology. Meanwhile, nationalists like Kobayashi Yoshinori, Fujioka Nobukatsu, and Nishibe Susumu were gearing up for a culture war that would really last until first half of the next decade. With all this going on, Chomsky would have been forgiven, if he’d actually paid attention to Japanese discourse in 1995, for thinking that the Murayama and Kono statements were merely temporary and would soon be overturned. Now that they have been consistently reiterated by every single Japanese government for the last two decades, their place as official policy is far less threatened than it was then.

      Indeed, even when you have a government that wants to overturn the statements. Let’s look at what Abe’s government has actually said about revisiting historical statements. Abe’s Education minister said the following:

      “The government as a whole plans to review these statements issued by past cabinets concerning historical perspective. This doesn’t mean we will reject them and create something new, but it may be necessary to add forward-looking expressions. At least it is not the sort of review that China or South Korea would have to worry about.”

      To me, this is hardly the rhetoric of a government that wants to drag Japan back to the 1930s. In fact, it is not even the words of a government who wants to drag Japan back to the 1980s when there wasn’t a Kono or Murayama statement. If it turns out that the government does indeed signal an intent to “erase” the statements, that’s the time to worry.

    29. Jim Di Griz Says:

      According to this, Japan is ‘left of center’, and the author ‘finds no trace of such xenophobia in the Abe Cabinet or, indeed, in the Liberal Democratic Party as a whole.’, since ‘Rightwing groups still exist but clearly they are neither influential nor dangerous enough to merit the attention of government officials and policy makers.’

      I guess it’s easy for the writer to bang on about extreme nationalism in Europe as ‘proof’ that Japan isn’t rightwing, but then Japan doesn’t even have an immigration policy.

      Her analysis is so deeply flawed. The rightwing groups ARE government officials and policy makers!

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/02/20/commentary/japans-step-toward-normalcy/#.USOekRwSGkM

    30. Kaerimashita Says:

      @JDG, #29

      Not a she, Okazaki is a former diplomat from their bubble era and adviser to PMs even to this day. Another old guy with a family with political ties going way back.

      I must say that editorial though was one hilarious piece of tripe. He clearly has an “O’Reilly-esque” agenda.

      – Not to mention connections within the English-language media. Seiron has lots of articles out there. Why is this one the one that gets translated and presented as a counterweight in the JT?

    31. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Kaerimashita #30

      Quite so, my mistake.

      Anyone who has actually lived in Japan wouldn’t believe a word of that article; for the benefit of those overseas? Debito is right- the article is patently absurd, why bother to print something so incredulous?

    32. Baudrillard Says:

      My oh my, what an arrogant little Neo Con this Okazaki is!

      “I shut down the other panelists’ arguments by saying that the crime was an isolated act of a frustrated old rightwinger.”

      I think he himself is a frustrated right winger. He is projecting! (^-^)

    33. debito Says:

      FYI: Asahi article calling into question Japan’s status as a parliamentary democracy:

      Tokyo court rules Dec. 16 election unconstitutional but not invalid
      Asahi Shimbun AJW March 06, 2013
      By RYUJIRO KOMATSU/ Staff Writer
      http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201303060070

      The Tokyo High Court on March 6 ruled that the December Lower House election was unconstitutional, but stopped short of invalidating the results, the first verdict handed down in a series of lawsuits over the election.

      Lawyers around Japan filed lawsuits asking that the election be invalidated because it was conducted without reapportioning districts to overcome the imbalance in the value of a vote due to population discrepancies. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that this imbalance was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

      Verdicts in the other lawsuits are expected by March 27. The Supreme Court is then expected to hand down a uniform ruling by the end of the year.

      In March 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the August 2009 Lower House election was in a state of unconstitutionality because the largest difference in the value of a single vote between the most and least populous districts was 2.3 times. In its ruling, the Supreme Court called for the elimination of the process of first giving all prefectures one seat before distributing the remaining seats by population. That process was viewed as being the main cause for the large difference in the value of a vote.

      However, the Diet in November passed a bill that only cut seats from the five least populous prefectures. The bill passed on the day the Lower House was dissolved.

      The Dec. 16 Lower House election was conducted using the same electoral district boundaries used in the 2009 election that was ruled in a state of unconstitutionality by the Supreme Court. For that reason, the difference in the value of a vote between the most and least populous districts had increased to 2.43 times.

      The Tokyo Election Administration Commission, the defendant in the case, argued that the call to invalidate the recent election should be rejected because time was needed to reapportion districts, and the 21 months between the Supreme Court ruling and the December Lower House election was insufficient to make that change.

      Under the Public Offices Election Law, lawsuits seeking to invalidate election results are first submitted to high courts rather than district courts as is the usual case with lawsuits. While there is also a provision in that law that calls for efforts to be made to issue rulings within 100 days of the lawsuit being filed, that has previously not been followed to the letter. However, that has apparently changed, as the Tokyo High Court ruling came 79 days after the lawsuit was filed.

      The Supreme Court ruled in 1976 and 1985 that Lower House elections were unconstitutional because of the large gap in the value of a vote. However, the court stopped short of invalidating the results of those elections.

      The lawsuits related to the 2009 Lower House election led to four rulings at high courts that said it was unconstitutional, three that said it was held “in a state of unconstitutionality,” on the ground that there had not been enough time before the election to correct the vote imbalance, and two rulings that said it was constitutional.

      By RYUJIRO KOMATSU/ Staff Writer

    34. Jim Di Griz Says:

      So, first we have Sick-note going back on the previous governments phasing out of nuclear power;
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2012/12/26/editorials/ldps-vague-nuclear-energy-policy/

      Then we have the Nuclear Regulatory Agency saying that it doesn’t think any reactors will be approved for restarts this year;
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/04/national/japans-nuclear-plants-unlikely-to-restart-operations-this-year-survey/

      Followed by the French supplier of nuclear fuels to Japan saying that shipments will commence this year;
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/asian-pacific-business/areva-plans-first-nuclear-fuel-shipment-to-japan-since-fukushima/article9268609/

      And now Sick-note is saying that terrorism is the biggest risk to nuclear power safety, and something should be done about it;
      http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/abe-says-nuclear-plants-need-tighter-anti-terrorism-measures

      It’s interesting to me that Sick-note only feels the need to raise the specter of protecting nuclear plants from terrorism only 2 days after the second anniversary of the disaster shows that the anti-nuclear citizens groups are still active;
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/10/us-japan-protest-idUSBRE92903Y20130310

      Current law limits the extent to which potential critics of policy can be silenced or criminalized;
      http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/47950

      What’s the betting that Sick-notes ‘anti-terror’ measures will be used to prevent anti-nuclear demos by citizens outside nuclear plants when the J-gov green lights a restart despite any safety asessment (or lack thereof), in order to reduce Japans current account deficit spiraling out of control due to the increased cost of oil and gas imports because of his very own policy of weakening of the yen?

      If even I can see this, why can’t the mainstream J-media?

      Join the dots.
      A government that creates a crisis situation in order to re-invigorate an industry that it is in bed with, whilst telling the people a fiction of fear that enables them to criminalize those who would oppose them.

      The nuclear power stations will go back on against the will of the people…..’shouganai’ (shrug, return to dreamy day and ‘Ganbare Nippon’ mantra).

    35. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Following up on my point #34, whilst media attention is focused on Sick-note’s announcement that he has decided to think about making a decision to join TPP discussions, this slips past the public;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/16/national/abe-purges-energy-board-of-antinuclear-experts/#.UURMShwSHuk

      Sick-note has overhauled the advisory panel that will formulate the governments decision about future energy production options…..all advisors opposed to nuclear power have been ‘let go’.

      Looks like the French nuclear fuel supplier was correct in expecting to re-start fuel supplies to Japan this year after all;
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/asian-pacific-business/areva-plans-first-nuclear-fuel-shipment-to-japan-since-fukushima/article9268609/

      Make no mistake, ‘Abenomics’ is not about weakening the yen to revitalize the economy through exports.
      ‘Abenomics’ is about weakening the yen to get the reactors on (and resume kick-backs) through increased oil and gas import prices.

    36. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I just found an article from WP about US concern over Japan’s possible join in TPP discussions.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/japans-possible-entry-to-trade-talks-sparks-opposition-in-congress/2013/03/14/831582bc-8ce4-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html

      The US Congress sent a letter to the President Obama on March 14th, addressing the problem with Japan’s Auto Industry Market and the tariffs.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/documents/autoletter.pdf

    37. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Following on from my post #35…..

      Only one day later!

      ‘The restart of Japan’s nuclear power industry is proving pivotal to the economic vision of the country’s prime minister.’

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-faces-higher-fuel-bill-as-nuclear-shutdown-enters-3rd-year

      Only two years after the Fukushima disaster, and Japan Inc. has turned the clock so far back, it’s like the DPJ government never happened.

      And for my next trick….

    38. Markus Says:

      @Jim (#34) A side question – you often mention the “dreamy day narrative” and I understand this is a real “thing”, i.e. some kind of public campaign? I tried searching and found many references to it, but not the origin or any further description. What is it, and do you have some sources if possible? (Sorry I’m not in Japan long enough so maybe I am missing something obvious)

    39. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Markus

      I think the phrase “dreamy day” originated here at this site and was coined by Jim.I hope it has gone viral. I like it for its postmodern allusions (illusions? lol) for pursuing a consumerist lifestyle full of misleading signs and symbols,and cliches like “safety Japan”, while ignoring anything “negative” which is allegedly “Japanese culture”,
      OR
      is this avoidance of anything unpleasant and negative- the “wa” or harmony above all, uniquely Japanese, or dare I say it, actually a western import of postmodern denial?

      Nothing is real
      Strawberry rice fields
      Forever?

      – Or perhaps “Sour Strawberry Fields Forever?”

    40. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Markus #38

      The ‘dreamy day’ is something I first mentioned regarding the general publics apathy toward a triple nuclear meltdown; out of sight, out of mind, a depressing situation that should demand some deep and meaningful reflection, but to do so would interrupt the ‘reality’ of the care-free shopping as social life, ersatz Audrey Hepburn lifestyle that most Japanese pretend to be living. Shopping and looking at your own reflection is the goal in life, leading to a denial of more serious issues.

      Then poster Baudrillard pointed me to the writings of the French philosopher Baudrillard, who would call this phenomena of substituting a ‘fake’ reality for ‘real’ reality the ‘spectacle’ (a consensual hallucination of a simulacra of a second hand image of reality) something of a marked improvement of the Roman ‘bread and games’ approach to keeping the masses distracted from reality.

      Poster Baudrillard knows far more about this than me, but for a practical example, take Disneyland;

      Of course, it is a real place, but it presents a fake reality; line up here, stand there, look at this- all a far more controlled experience than daily life in the outside world. Yet, in Disneyland, you are free to feel that it is acceptable to act in a ‘childish’ manner (Mickey! Cute!) even as an adult, and this reinforces the idea that inside Disneyland is ‘the childish fantasy land’, whereas outside is the ‘real adult world’ where childish behavior is not acceptable.

      However, the irony is that the Disneyland experience is through it’s controlled and simulated nature, the place where people act in a more ‘adult’ way; they obey the rules. In the outside ‘real’ world, people act like selfish children, and break any rule that they can get away with, saying that they are ‘sorry’ only when they get caught out.

      The Japanese sure love Disney.

    41. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Markus #38 & Baudrillard #39

      Baudrillard, I think your post #39 is spot on!

      I think that if pushed on the ‘dreamy day’, most Japanese would claim it’s a unique part of J-culture, however, I think that the J-elites would see it as an evil western contamination of ‘pure’ Japanese values, without seeing the irony that the ‘dreamy day’ narrative compels a retardation of both political and human rights activism.

      As Debito has mentioned recently, most LDP government members are members (if not leaders) of recidivist right-wing groups that aim to take away imposed western democracy, and revert Japan back to imperial era fascist government. I imagine that this would spell the end of the ‘dreamy day’ and cause some anti-government opposition. Therefore it only makes sense that when the LDP changes the constitution should to limit personal freedoms, they also propose the introduction into the new constitution of the requirement to ‘love the country’, and ‘respect the constitution’. Clever, huh? By the time the Japanese are shocked into waking, opposition to the end of the ‘dreamy day’ will be criminalized.

    42. baudrillard Says:

      Japan indeed “it presents a fake reality; line up here, stand there, look at this- all a far more controlled experience than daily life in the outside world. ”

      I have noticed this since the 90s, that Weber’s Rationalization and Ritzer’s Macdonaldization (1993) were coming true in Japan. People move from one box, one controlled experience to another. From Macdonalds, an order process that holds no surprises, to The Gap, whose clothes hold no surprises. The one time I had a funky, friendly half American chick serve me in MacDs in Japan, she was let go soon after. Mustnt have been following the script closely enough.

      This has advantages; you absolutely know how your day is going to turn out down to the minute in Tokyo (unless you use the Saikyo line), but it is of course ultimately terribly dull and demotivating.

      “A life that holds no surprises”. Well, except for Fukushima/3/11, but err, well lets just ignore that. Back to the “Dreamy Day”.

      P.s. Hands up who thinks ignoring problems or people is an aspect of Japanese culture and tradition.

    43. Mark Hunter Says:

      Baudrillard, I agree with your posts re fake reality, etc. I also see increasingly the same behavior here in Canada. People are actually quite limited in the range of behaviors that are deemed appropriate and it seems that things like fake news have taken over most media outlets. It is truly scary to see how someone’s dress blunder can become serious news. The innane focus on celebrity and the minutest of misteps by those in positions of power is boxing people in to an ultra safe way of living that strikes me as incredibly boring – perhaps just what those who want us to consume have in mind. This thread is about Abe, but wanting control over the masses is not just a Japanese phenomenon. Maybe the addiction to social media is partly behind the conformism I see increasing in Canada. (kinda thinking out loud here)

    44. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Mark, I absolutely agree and Japan is far from unique in being consumed by the fake symbols of postmodernism and the control society of rationalization and Macdonaldization.

      The “unique” part is that Japan took to it like a duck takes to water, and with very few dissenting voices. When dissenting voices are raised about the “state of society” they are misdirected at old, often external, enemies.

      There was a case in an English textbook in Japan about a truck driver in Japan who was fired for dying his hair. His boss blamed “Americanization”!

      Old style J fascism/imperialism and postmodern rationalization dovetail.

    45. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Mark Hunter #43

      I agree that generally modern popular culture is quite rubbish, but would argue that the Japanese have taken this to extremes that the west has not. Idiocy has been normalized to a far greater extent in Japan. For example, when was the last time a Canadian who refused to sing the national anthem was decried as a foreign spy? Yet, in Japan this happens; even the tinniest deviation from expectations is cause to call into question your legitimacy as a human being.

      After reading some of poster Baudrillards posts, I read some Baudrillard and Debord, and agree that whilst the west is their theoretical nightmare made real, Japan represents their most extreme nightmares made manifest tenfold.

    46. Mark Hunter Says:

      Jim / Baudrillard – thanks for responding. Absolutely no argument from me that Japan is one of the more extreme examples of this fakery. Perhaps a society needs to have a long legacy of the Greek tradion of questionning to not become as extreme as Japan. I certainly don’t want to downplay Japan’s situation by saying the same phenomenon exists elsewhere, but it might help to understand Japan’s society if we look for elements in other societies that also lead to great control over how the masses behave. Two that come to mind are lax media and the advertising industry. I don’t think I’ll add anything else to the thread as we probably should be focusing on Abe and his policies.

    47. Baudrillard Says:

      “wherever submission is demanded, the old ideological fart wends its way, from the Arbeit Macht Frei of the concentration camps to the homilies of Henry Ford and Mao Tse-tung. ” Abe and Ishihara are old farts.

      “Even the obscenity of fascism springs from a will to live but a will to live denied, turned against itself like an ingrowing toenail. A will to live become a will to power, a will to power become a will to passive obedience, a will to passive obedience become a death wish.” Raoul Vaneigem http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/28

      Japan itself will suffer thanks to Abe; his appeal is a death wish, hence there will be no immigration to save the country ultimately. Japanese hypnotized into preferring, subconsciously, a Ragnarok type blaze of glory exit, as other posters here have postulated.

    48. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Baudrillard #47

      ‘Japanese hypnotized into preferring, subconsciously, a Ragnarok type blaze of glory exit, as other posters here have postulated.’

      Yes, I myself have been an advocate of the premise that the Japanese would prefer a ‘racially pure Götterdämmerung’.

      However, I recently discovered something interesting in a re-reading of Philip K. Dick’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’.

      For those who haven’t read it, it postulates an alternative 1962 where japan and Germany have won WW2, and the US is partitioned by the japanese and Germany, now engaged in a cold war (as an aside, it is telling that all the NJ characters living in Japanese occupied America in a world where japan won the war, are treated exactly the same way that NJ are treated in a Japan that lost the war. Also telling is that whilst all characters in the Japanese zone know of the Nazi’s atrocities, no one has any awareness of Japan’s war time atrocities).

      Anyway, the passage that caught my attention was an critical observation of nazism made by one of the German characters. It’s a little long, so I won’t bother to type it out, but it’s pages 41-43 of the 2011 Mariner Books edition. Basically the character is trying to understand the nazi’s headlong rush to exterminate virtually all life on earth (and any they might find in outer space), concluding that this destructive urge is a frenzy born out of the self-righteous purity of nazi racial beliefs that will lead them to the natural conclusion of willingly exterminating even themselves.
      I thought ‘yes, that sounds like something the Japanese bought into when they knew the war was unwinnable (see cliff suicides at Okinawa, and school children practicing with bamboo spears in ’45), and I thought that this ‘self-destruction as purity’ may not necessarily be a last recourse in defeat, but rather perceived as a ‘final option for a pure victory’.

    49. john k Says:

      Oh dear oh dear…..the first salvo has been fired:

      “Japan will stand up to China, says PM Shinzo Abe…”*

      “..In the interview, Mr Abe said he had realised that “Japan is expected to exert leadership not just on the economic front, but also in the field of security in the Asia-Pacific”…On Saturday, China’s defence ministry responded saying: “If Japan does resort to enforcement measures like shooting down aircraft, that is a serious provocation to us, an act of war…”

      * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24684683

      Full text from source:
      http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304799404579157210861675436
      But you need to subscribe.

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