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Hi Blog. I’m hoping to finish off this metathread about Japan’s Right-Wing Swing soon, but good articles keep on coming (thanks to Debito.org Readers for pointing them out).
These two are from the JT, one from a long-time columnist (Hugh Cortazzi) who has written for decades about Japan with a diplomat’s charm. But he’s recently been quite undiplomatic in tone when assessing the PM Abe Administration. Excerpt:
Does right-wing extremism threaten Japan’s democracy?
BY HUGH CORTAZZI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 31, 2014
Extreme nationalism is a threat to democratic institutions and values everywhere. Recent reports in the British media about the growing influence of right-wing extremists in Japan have caused deep concern among friends of Japan here.
On Oct. 22 it was reported that Sanae Takaichi, the minister for internal affairs, had given an enthusiastic endorsement of a book praising Adolf Hitler. The explanations and denials issued have been contradictory and unconvincing.
If any British minister were to say anything that even by implication supported a criminal who had been instrumental in instituting the Holocaust, there would be a public outcry and the minister concerned would be forced to resign.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s alleged statement in April that convicted war criminals were “martyrs” was regarded here as unacceptable. I wrote to the Japanese Embassy in London asking whether Abe had in fact made such a statement. I said that any such statement was highly offensive to British people whose relatives had suffered so much at the hands of some members of Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. As no reply to my letter was received, I have to assume that Abe had indeed made this remark.
On Oct. 18 it was reported that NHK, in a notices to journalists on its English-language services, had banned any references to the Nanking massacre and to the Japanese use of “comfort women,” the euphemism used for sex slaves.
NHK is supposed to be like the BBC and to be both politically neutral and objective. Under the direction of Katsuto Momii it seems to have been turned into a tool of the Japanese government. As professor Koichi Nakano has apparently said it looks “increasingly like a mirror of CCTV,” China’s state broadcaster.
There have been many reports here suggesting that Abe’s right-wing ministers want to rewrite history to provide academic support for their attempts to exculpate Japan’s wartime leaders.
Western historians, basing themselves on unimpeachable evidence, have no doubt about the atrocities committed by Japanese forces not only in Nanjing but elsewhere in China. That Chinese forces, nationalist and communist alike, also committed crimes against civilians is also true, but Japan was the aggressor and Chinese behavior was no excuse for the deliberate policies of oppression adopted by the Japanese high command.
There can be no doubt that members of the Japanese Army not only were responsible for many rapes but also forced women, not only Koreans, in occupied territories to become sex slaves.
The facts about the activities of the Japanese biological warfare unit 731 in Manchukuo are so horrific that its existence and experiments tend to be buried and, if possible, forgotten. This “amnesia” is at least in part due to American connivance; American investigators were told the results of the “experiments” in return for not pursuing the Japanese perpetrators.
The maltreatment, to use an understatement, of the civilian populations in occupied territories including Singapore cannot be denied except by the willfully blind. Nor can historical revisionists justify the way in which allied prisoners of war were mistreated.[…]
In the eyes of Japanese right-wing nationalists, the only crime committed by Japan’s military leaders was that they failed. The rightists lack ethical principles and are opposed to democratic institutions.[…]
It seems that Japan has reverted to one-party government. This could lead to autocracy and the infringement of human rights.
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/10/31/commentary/japan-commentary/does-right-wing-extremism-threaten-japans-democracy/
Quite strong language, as I said, from a former ambassador to Japan. Now check this out, from a poli-sci professor at Housei University. It’s even stronger:
COMMENTARY / JAPAN
Perilous spirit of the times
BY JIRO YAMAGUCHI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2014
Female lawmakers given ministerial posts in the reshuffle of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet last month in the hope that more women on the team would shore up popular support for his Cabinet have turned out to be liabilities. Two of them have resigned after being accused of breaking basic rules in the Public Offices Election Law while two others are under the spotlight for their suspected ties to ultra-rightist groups.
It is inexcusable for Cabinet ministers to provide financial and material benefits to voters in their home constituencies. Neither former Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi nor former Justice Minister Midori Matsushima was qualified to assume Cabinet positions in the first place.
Even more serious are the reported ties of Sanae Takaichi, internal affairs minister, and Eriko Yamatani, head of the National Public Safety Commission, to ultra-rightist organizations that are accused of engaging in acts of racial discrimination. One of these groups has repeatedly threatened and harassed Korean residents in Japan, and some of its members have been accused of criminal offenses.
Yamatani has been photographed with one such offender. When she spoke at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Yamatani avoided giving her opinion when asked by members of the foreign press what she thought of the Zaitokutai group’s activities.
Political leaders in a democracy bear an obligation to maintain the fight against terrorism, which threatens freedom and diverse values. If lawmakers like Takaichi and Yamatani are committed to protecting freedom and democracy, they need to condemn the activities of ultra-rightist groups like Zaitokukai or Neo-Nazis. If lawmakers exhibit stances that allow such groups freedom of speech and recognize their existence within the realm of value relativism, such lawmakers could, under the common sense of Western countries, be viewed as enemies of freedom.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with his intention to counter China, has reiterated that Japan shares such Western values as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law. He has also reportedly proclaimed Japan’s intention to seek permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council as part of an attempt to expand his diplomacy on a global scale. Such remarks are an indication that his stupidity and egocentrism are beyond redemption.
The permanent members of the UNSC are an exclusive club comprising the victors of World War II. It is hardly possible that they would welcome a nation whose leader denies its wartime aggression and atrocities. The head of a Cabinet whose members sympathize with racial discrimination and historical revisionism can hardly win international trust by merely voicing his support for freedom and democracy.[…]
What he wanted to say, I presume, was that Japan’s freedom and democracy could be shoved aside when the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism spreads like wild fire.
It is pathetic that we have to quote the foreign media to criticize what is going on in this country. It is the job of members of the media and academics to tell people immersed in narcissism that they, in fact, have ugly aspects.
Entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/10/28/commentary/japan-commentary/perilous-spirit-times/
It’s nice when a Japanese academic in his field makes statements like “the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism”, because at least he can get away with saying them without being accused of racism, cultural imperialism, or ignorance. When Japan’s media follows a trend into intolerance to extremes not seen much in Japan’s Postwar Era, it’s time for denunciations to happen. Because they’re not going to happen from within at this point. They must come from without. And to that end, Debito.org is happy to report when others are seeing it that way too. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito