More on Ibuki “butter” Bunmei from Matt Dioguardi


On Feb 28, 2007, at 1:12 PM, Kirk Masden wrote:

I don’t know if Abe will be made to regret it but he should be.

Abe’s defense strikes me as more problematic than the original

gaff. Abe is equating homogeneity with getting along well. By this

logic, diversity (more foreigners in Japan, etc) leads to acrimony.

It also implies that whatever peace and good human relations have

characterized Japan thus far have been in spite of minorities such as

Ainu, Okinawans, Koreans, etc. This is a very problematic way for

Japan’s leader to defend a remark.

[Education Minister] Bunmei Ibuki’s comments continue to trouble me.

Some things to think about:

1. I’ve found at least two places where Ibuki specifically basically

says, “though there are exceptions such as the Ainu and the Zainichi

people, Japan is fundamentally, one ethnos, one culture, one ethnic

rulership, one language, one belief system” (As Kirk says above, this

is a very exclusivist attitude. He’s basically *excluding* the Ainu

and the Zainichi from participation in the successes of Japanese

rulership, culture, language, and beliefs.)

2. Ibuki also states in more than one place, practically like a

refrain, that because of the post-war constitution and Fundamental

Law of Education are western they emphasize rights over duty, private

over public. This is one reason why Japanese society is falling into

decadence. The examples given again and again are Livedoor and

Murakami funds. Ibuki will say, of course, rights and privacy are

very important, *but* … then he launchs into the problems they cause.

3. The solution suggested is to revise the constitution and the

Fundamental Law of Education to include more values of the Japanese


Has this not already happened somewhat? Article 2 of the Fundamental

Law of Education has been revised from what was previously an

emphasis on individuality and personal development, to a list of

values that perhaps are intended to reflect the values of the

Japanese ethnos.

So because there is a *perceived* majority, and the *perception* that

the *perceived* majority have certain supposedly *shared* values,

those values must now be imposed on *everyone*?

Good grief!

The one positive element here, is that I am gradually finding very

active and vocal Japanese citizens on the net who see through all

this nonsense. But so far not enough to stop the steamroller …

This is a really terrible price to have to pay for Koizumi’s economic


As far as Ibuki’s statements I’ve been blogging some of them here:


Matt Dioguardi


One comment on “More on Ibuki “butter” Bunmei from Matt Dioguardi



    I enjoyed reading Matt’s March 14 post

    and thinking about Ibuki’s statement that America is an
    “artificial” (_jinkouteki_) nation. This is interesting to think
    about because of the values and thought processes that it implies.
    I’d like to point out, though, that it is not new. I believe I ran
    across it in the old Japanese version of the Fukuzawa list. So, it’s
    my impression that it is a common notion in conservative circles in
    Japan and not unique to Ibuki.

    First, the objective reality that the statement refers to is the
    extent to which the US is (and Japan is not) a “nation of
    immigrants.” But, of course, calling the the U.S. an “artificial”
    nation is not an objective statement. It is a normative one that
    implies that there is something “unnatural” and hence undesirable
    about the way the U.S. is put together.

    “Artificial” in Japanese is made up of two characters: one meaning
    “human being” and the other meaning “constructed.” Thus,
    “artificial” is literally “man-made.” Now, if Japanese society is
    not “man-made” then perhaps we should think about who made it. Does
    the assertion that Japan is not a “man-made” nation imply that it is

    Historical research points to the “man-made” nature of nation states
    all over the world. The notion that Japan is not “man-made” may be
    evidence that reverence for the mythical origins of this country is
    still alive, at least at a sub- or semi-conscious level.

    Another issue to ponder is the sense in which homogeneity is
    “natural” and diversity is “artificial” or “unnatural.” Does
    “natural” (the state why may assume to be the antithesis of
    “jinkoteki” or “artificial”) mean leaving human beings to behave as
    they see fit? If so, it would seem fairly easy to point to
    situations in which human beings “naturally” elected to form diverse
    societies or cross ethnic boundaries. Conversely, “man-made” means
    are often required to prevent ethnic groups from co-mingling. In the
    Edo period “sakoku” was an “artificial” means employed to control the
    natural impulse of human beings to travel. In modern times, how can
    one argue implementing laws preventing immigration and thus
    preserving relative homogeneity is more “natural” than allowing human
    beings to move freely?

    Perhaps it is thought that laws are needed to prevent “unnatural”
    acts. The U.S. has a history of anti-miscegenation laws. It was
    thought that it was “unnatural” for persons of different “races” to
    marry. Is the U.S. an “artifical” nation in the sense that it has
    not followed the “natural” path of segregation by race?

    The more one thinks about it, the more problematic the notion that
    diversity is “artificial” and homogeneity is “natural” becomes. I
    doubt, however, that many conservative Japanese have even considered
    the implications of this “artificial” vs. “natural” creed; to most of
    them, I think that the validity of the “US is artificial” statement
    is too obvious to even warrant consideration.

    Finally, I think there are important connections between the “US =
    artificial” thought process and other statements Ibuki and has made
    but I’ll save comments on those connections for later.

    Kirk Masden

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