Renewed GOJ projections of hard and soft power: Yomiuri argues for remilitarization “to protect J-nationals abroad”, Reuters reports GOJ reinvestment in overseas universities, claims “no strings attached”


eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at
If you like what you read and discuss on, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  In the recent vein of the GOJ’s more aggressive stance towards projecting its power abroad, we have two articles of note:  One is on the harder power of militarism “to protect Japanese nationals abroad” (as the Yomiuri capitalizes on the ISIL beheadings to nudge public policy), and the other is on a (renewed) softer power to fund American universities, particularly Georgetown and Columbia, and therefore have more control over future research directions before they become published.  (The institutions below may claim that there are no strings attached, but as the GOJ knows full well through its domestic education monopolies, once you get people hooked on your funding, they have a helluva time dealing with the threat of withdrawal).

One might argue that all countries project power to some degree, and they would be right.  But we as consumers, researchers, and concerned critical thinkers should be aware of it.  Especially in Japan, an economy with this degree of public debt (more than twice its GDP, the highest in the developed world), a tsunami and nuclear meltdown aftermath that still needs cleaning up, and an upcoming porkbarrel 2020 Olympics, these are interesting budgetary choices.  Cherchez l’argent.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Comprehensively bolster measures to protect Japanese nationals abroad
February 04, 2015, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Courtesy of JK

To prevent Japanese nationals from being targeted by international terrorism, the government must comprehensively reinforce countermeasures to protect Japanese living abroad, gather information on terrorism and guard key facilities.

The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is recently believed to have killed two Japanese in Syria, is threatening to continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Japanese. Lacking common sense, the fanatic criminal group will not listen to reason. Other radical groups inspired by ISIL’s latest attack may also target Japanese.

We should realize that the threat of international terrorism has entered a new stage.

The headquarters tasked with promoting measures to handle international organized crime and international terrorism at the Prime Minister’s Office adopted a policy Tuesday of keeping Japanese living abroad informed, through Japanese embassies and other diplomatic missions, about local security conditions.

The government will also step up security for Japanese schools abroad. Such facilities are easy targets for terrorism because they symbolize Japan, so their security systems as well as commuting routes must be checked thoroughly.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made clear Tuesday that the government will increase the number of defense attaches, who are Self-Defense Force officials, at Japanese diplomatic missions abroad.

Following a hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 that involved Japanese nationals, the government increased the number of defense attaches. At present, more than 50 defense attaches are stationed in about 40 countries.

An SDF official can more easily access classified information held by local military authorities. SDF officials should be proactively deployed in such regions as the Middle East.

In the latest crisis, the issue of keeping Japanese travelers informed of possible risks has become an important task.

Review travel advisories

The Foreign Ministry issues four different levels of travel advisories for potential threats in accordance with local security conditions. The ministry has issued an evacuation advisory, the highest level in terms of risk, to nationals living in Syria or traveling there.

But the advisory has no binding power since the Constitution guarantees the freedom of traveling to a foreign country.

The ministry had repeatedly asked Kenji Goto, who was killed in the latest hostage crisis, to refrain from entering Syria — but to no avail.

The government must examine improvements to the advisory levels according to the risks involved, as well as the best way to communicate and distribute such information.

Terrorist attacks must also be prevented in Japan. Immigration checks need to be tightened further to block terrorists at the water’s edge. Security at governmental organizations, airports, nuclear power plants and other key facilities should be enhanced. It is also vital for the government to cooperate with the intelligence agencies of other countries.

ISIL is trying to spread its radical beliefs beyond national borders by manipulating online resources. It is also necessary to prepare for home-grown terrorism that could be launched by those influenced by such terrorist propaganda.

For example, in Australia, an attacker who had apparently been influenced by ISIL took hostages at a cafe in Sydney in December. The incident ended with two hostages killed.

Are there suspicious people apparently devoted to radicalism, collecting weapons and explosives?

Investigative authorities must vigilantly monitor online activity, detect any sign of terrorism and respond swiftly.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 4, 2015)

To counter China and South Korea, government to fund Japan studies at U.S. colleges
REUTERS, MAR 16, 2015

The Abe government has budgeted more than $15 million to fund Japan studies at nine universities overseas, including Georgetown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a “soft power” push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea.

The program, the first time in over 40 years that Japan has funded such studies at U.S. universities, coincides with efforts by conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to address perceived biases in accounts of the wartime past — moves critics say are an attempt to whitewash history.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgetown University in Washington will receive $5 million each from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for fiscal 2015, which has yet to be enacted, a Finance Ministry official said.

In addition, the Japan Foundation, set up by the government to promote cultural exchange, will allocate ¥25 million per school to six yet-to-be selected universities in the United States and elsewhere, the official said.

That comes on top of $5 million in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 for Japan studies at New York’s Columbia University, where Japan scholar Gerry Curtis will retire late this year.

“The Abe government has a sense of crisis that history issues concerning Japan . . . are not properly understood in the United States, and decided to make a contribution so that Japan research would not die out,” the Finance Ministry official said.

The official said Japanese diplomats will vet professors hired for the programs to ensure they are “appropriate.” However, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said there were no such conditions placed on the funding.

The Foreign Minister “is not placing any such condition as the GOJ’s (Government of Japan) inclusion in the selection procedure of a new scholar,” Takako Ito, the ministry’s assistant press secretary, said in an email.

Georgetown University and MIT declined comment on the funding, while Columbia University spokesman Brian Connolly told reporters by email: “As a matter of long-standing university policy, donors to Columbia do not vet or have veto power over faculty hiring.”

Many Japanese politicians and officials worry Japan has been outmaneuvered by the aggressive public diplomacy of China and South Korea.

After a decade of shrinking spending on public diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry won a total of ¥70 billion for strategic communications in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 and the initial budget for the next year from April, up from ¥20 billion in the initial fiscal 2014 budget.

Those funds are to be used for “soft power” initiatives such as the Japan studies programs at foreign universities and setting up “Japan House” centers to promote the “Japan Brand.”

But the government is also targeting wartime accounts by overseas textbook publishers and others that it sees as incorrect.

One such effort has already sparked a backlash from U.S. scholars, who protested a request by Japan’s government to publisher McGraw-Hill Education to revise a textbook’s account of “comfort women,” the euphemism used in Japan for those forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

17 comments on “Renewed GOJ projections of hard and soft power: Yomiuri argues for remilitarization “to protect J-nationals abroad”, Reuters reports GOJ reinvestment in overseas universities, claims “no strings attached”

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    As we have seen from Japan’s *ever so deft* effort to ‘project soft-power’ by yakuza-like intimidation tactics towards Dr. Ziegler re: the Korean sex-slaves being included in a text-book, and more importantly, the fact that they had to rely on a student to do the snooping for them, Abe’s recent ‘decision’ to start a Japanese spy agency based on the UK’s MI5 has a long way to go.

    A really long way to go.

    They can send SDF officers to any embassy in the world, it won’t make Japanese citizens any safer. What Japan would need is an intelligence service with overseas connections and experience (N.B. overseas ‘experience’ is already a factor in restricting a Japanese citizens access to official employment on behalf of the J-government, since they might have been ‘corrupted’ whilst abroad, and have been judged more likely to leak information as I linked to some weeks ago), AND in order to operate abroad without drawing attention, and with full linguistic, and socio-cultural expertise required to do intelligence work, the Japanese ‘MI5’ would need Japanese nationals of the target ethnicity (either naturalized Japanese citizens, or 2nd, 3rd generation immigrants).

    Since Japan is so xenophobic towards immigration, it is unrealistic to ever believe that they will be able to put operatives in the field with any better cover story than ‘being Japanese tourists’. That is to say, not much use. After all, look at the way 3rd, and 4th generation zainichi Koreans are treated in Japan, and then ask yourself, why should any of them (being barred from working at city hall) then decide to infiltrate North Korea on and gather intelligence for the Japanese government (for example).

    No, Japan will continue to get the information that the US decides to share with it. It will continue to rely on the networks and assets that the US has around the world for the protection of it’s citizens. The new spy agency is under the command of the NPA, and that tells you all you need to know;

    It’s focus will be on NJ in Japan (now the J-police will have a reason to monitor all those muslims like they did before illegally), and Japanese nationals who are ‘rocking the boat’ of the vested interests and the LDP (Okinawa and Fukushima protestors, along with the JCP better look over their electronic and real shoulders).

    I notice the comment about ‘stopping them at the water’.
    Of course, it’s the evil NJ invading the beautiful country paranoia stoking again. I guess that despite being the 20th anniversary of the Aum sarin attack, the Japanese have never heard the term ‘home-grown terrorism’, which is how the terror attacks of late have been characterized.

    And there you have it. The call to increase military power serves to;

    1. Make old men like Abe feel masculine when then stand next to other world leaders for a photo-op.
    2. Divert J-taxpayers funds into J-corporations that exist in a shrinking domestic market.

    All this talk about spying and intelligence is really about;
    1. The politics of fear of NJ.
    2. Finding another excuse to resist meaningful social change (anybody seen that 3rd arrow yet? Those old people aren’t going to wipe their own bottoms).
    3. Give the NPA more power to encroach upon the civil liberties of Japanese and NJ alike (although more easily against NJ).
    4. Stifle dissent to protect the broken system (and it’s vested interests) while they rob the nation blind, and ‘disappear’ opposition when the inevitable becomes clear to the masses.

    As for Japan’s ‘soft-power’ drive- it’s already been so badly bungled re: the Korean sex-slaves, that anything they do will just have more negative blow-back in terms of international opinion than positive. Universities will take the money and not rock the boat because of the dropping number of students who wish to study ‘Japan on the down-escalator’ when they see studying ‘China on the up-escalator’ as a better investment in their own future. In fact, if Abe continues with his kleptocratic Zimbabwe style economic policy and encouragement of the extreme right-wing, I predict that Japanese studies in the West will come full circle;
    The reason for studying Japan will once again be ‘to know your enemy’.

  • “Protecting our nationals abroad” casus belli, well it has worked for the USA and many of its “splendid little wars” in the global periphery, no wonder Japan takes note about what’s good for the goose…
    Never let a good crisis go to waste, is the drinking toast of all politicians. The event could’ve been a little more pregnant than “2 people getting killed in Syria” (which is about as “well, duh” in the grand scheme of things like “2 people fall into bear pit, get eaten by bears”) which hardly warrants a complete overhaul of decades of constitutional principles, but they’ll take what they can get (and our modern 24/7 news media circus takes care that every flea-bite gets blown up to its “proper” proportion). For people with functioning attention spans it’s interesting to note that Japan did survive actual terrorism some decades ago without needing to go full militarism, and now this non-event is what makes for an excuse ? Did the population got stupider or the politicians just bolder, I’m wondering.

    “Islamic terrorism” is such a useful boogeyman to intervene abroad and control civil liberties at home, if it didn’t exist governments would have to invent it. Oh wait…

    As for the second article, “soft power” push onto universities, just par for the course.
    It’s about this:
    China has about 450 “Institutes” in 120 countries worldwide, pushing its own brand of bullshit. I’m sure the world will survive the measly 15mil, 9 institutes, japanese bullshit counterattack. Don*t expect much “truth” to come out of both any of them. Truth always goes to the highest bidder. It’s about influence, and China’s is asserting itself more increasingly.

  • Eoin Hughes says:

    “The institutions below may claim that there are no strings attached, but as the GOJ knows full well through its domestic education monopolies, once you get people hooked on your funding, they have a helluva time dealing with the threat of withdrawal”

    The link provided is to a blog, apparently from c1998, and focusing on hiring of foreigners in Japanese universities, a pet topic of this site. There does not appear to be anything about GOJ interference in research and cracking down on academic freedom through its “monopoly”.

    What gives?

    — What gives is that you clearly didn’t read the article (you didn’t even get the date right on it):

    “Keeping universities financial alcoholics through grant monies, MoE has recently created a budget (asking the government for 403億円 in 2002 (NB: around US $400 million–or enough for 4000 employees to make around US $100,000 per annum) for “Coordination and Promotion of Science Technology” (kagaku gijutsu shinkou chouseihi), meaning if the university breaks ranks and hires “researchers” (kenkyuusha) under contracts, MoE will pay their salaries. Consider the precedent: once established, over time these full-time “researchers” ultimately crowd out tenured “educators” (kyouin) in future entry-level university hirings–especially if the present faculty remain grandfathered, unaffected, and sold on the institutional savegrace of cheaper faculty.”

  • It’s almost appalling *how* clumsy spin doctoring in Japan works. When the Japanese national was killed, Abe took the opportunity to somehow shoehorn this case into his agenda to make Japan a nuclear power (which is the next logical step after remilitarising), and he almost looked like he was salivating with pleasure calling for Japan to react to this incident. Even knowing Japan’s sense of entitlement, it still puzzled me that he seemed to expect a worldwide outcry when similar, and even more gruesome murders already had happened, in greater numbers, to US, European, or other Asian citizens. Where was Japan’s publicly stated empathy in those cases? Oh I get it, those were “just” people, not Japanese people.
    And about the bribes to universities abroad…15 million USD is not much. It won’t help them a big deal to “correct the misunderstandings”, especially compared to the efforts the Chinese and South Korean governments are undertaking.

    This by the way is the one thing that really puts things into perspective whenever the worries about Japan’s potential fall back into aggression are getting out of hand: Even if Japan openly turned into a rogue state bullying others with nukes, how far could they really go nowadays, with China and South Korea, and possibly North Korea already being more than able to answer any kind of sneak attack (Pearl Harbour style, just nuclear) immediately? Not very far.
    Abe and his successors will never be able to restore its “old Glory”, or even rewrite history. All it will be able to do is posturing, and possibly hurt other countries a bit through the Yakuza-controlled backchannels to other countries – i.e. bringing in drugs, gambling, and AKB48. But any kind of military aggression is already out of the picture – forever.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Markus #5

    A couple of years ago on Japan Focus, Gavan McCormack talked about how Tamogami and some other high-profile right-wing nut-jobs thought that Japan should have nuclear weapons to help Japan ‘correct’ other countries ‘incorrect understanding of history’. That is to say, some of these crazies really believe that they should threaten their neighbors with nuclear attack for criticizing Japan’s white-washing of war-crimes.

    Now, I actually believe that the vested interests and power holders in Japan have no desire to start a real war (although the forces that Abe has unleashed into society make it harder for him to prevent one from happening unintentionally). Their goal is to remilitarize Japan as part of subverting the civil rights of the Japanese people IMHO. To that end, all the hot air and chest thumping about ‘pride’ and the Senkakus is in order to force the Japanese to ‘rally round the flag’ or risk being labelled ‘anti-Japanese’. It’s working. Control of the media ensures that the public receive no consideration of anything but Abe’s message.

    A little shooting around the Senkaku’s (just as in IS attacks on Japanese nationals) does Abe’s cause no end of good. The people become frightened, and do not object to Abe taking away their passports ‘for their own good’, nor do they object to more J-corporate welfare by increases in defense spending.

    And this is the real reason why Abe wants to crack down on, and roll back civil liberties to the 1930’s standard; the vested interests are a bunch of kleptocrats who are robbing this country blind with over-blown pork-barrel spending projects, whilst at the same time devaluing people’s savings, set against a demographic and fiscal time-bomb. The last thing they want is the populace rising up in revolution.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    On the other hand, I could be wrong. Maybe they do want another un-winnable war so as to wipe the current slate clean of all their problems and responsibilities to the country?
    Japanese LDP politician, in the presence of Abe and Aso, calls for an Imperial Japan system overseeing the entire world, by uttering a wartime phrase of Imperialism with just that meaning;

    Let’s see Abe explain that to Congress!

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ John K #7

    I get your point, but it’s all going according to ‘plan’, see?
    Japan’s apathetic population won’t rise up as long as NHK and the mainstream press doesn’t tell them (or is too afraid of being pilloried and receiving death threats like the Asahi), that their government is robbing thier future, and crushing their civil liberties. In fact, they just feed the populace an endless stream of N. Korea style propaganda;
    ‘We Japanese are unique because (some such nonsense)’, and the official party line on every issue.
    To do anything else would be ‘strange’ and ‘un-Japanese’.
    And the gaps inbetween official propaganda are totally infantilizing rubbish, with the same ‘talento’ repeating the same phrases, in the same set of situations on a rotating basis: it’s the TV equivalent of being in a cage in Gitmo with the CIA blasting the Barney the dinosaur theme at you over and over, to make you break and become servile.
    In Japan it’s working, isn’t it?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Regarding my post #10, I’d like to ask readers to consider the following as proof;

    ‘“The problem was ordinary people,” Deegan said. “They don’t seem to be affected by it.” Group members also send letters to railway companies and local municipalities and write about their experiences for Amenity, whose latest issue is out this month. For him, the greatest sonic nuisance comes from the emergency PA systems in smaller locales that play melodies and regular announcements that can mercilessly go on and on.’

    It really is a society where bombarding people with noise has made them docile, in the same way that supermarkets and shopping centers in the west use ‘muzak’ to keep shoppers docile and open to suggestion induced buying (rather than using their critical thinking before making a purchase) as a matter of open (ab)use of psychology.

    To give you a better example, the British (and sometimes BBC) documentary maker Adam Curtis made this excellent short about what he calls ‘Oh-Dearism’. The idea is that the vested interests bombard the masses with conflicting and contradictory messages via the media, of such horrific content (think ‘there is no melt-down at Fukushima’, and ‘It’s all under control’ V’s the steady, never-ending drip, drip, drip of bad news coming out of TEPCO) that it is impossible for the masses to readily understand the reality, and identify what those in power actually believe, therefore making it impossible for the masses to clearly identify exactly what they would stand for in opposition (a prime example of this is the ‘Occupy movement’, which stood for pretty much nothing in and of itself, and had no policy platform, but rather was unified by the common idea that ‘this isn’t right’).

    The result of this inability by the masses to be able to articulate a consensual definition of what they are against leads to a result that Curtis call ‘Oh-Dearism’. That is to say, in the UK English vernacular, when confronted with horrifying reality of government or corporate crimes or corruption, the majority of the UK’s populace mutter ‘Oh dear’, and go about their day feeling powerless to influence these things, and therefore don’t try.

    The UK English ‘Oh dear’ has, in this sense, exactly the same meaning in usage as the Japanese ‘Shou ga nai’. I think that Curtis hit the nail on the head with how the Japanese media is used as a psychological weapon by the vested interests to keep the Japanese people in a state of inactive apathy, allowing the vested interests to continue robbing the nation.

  • Debito,

    I happened to saw this on Yonhap News today and it’s regarding the comfort women controversy:

    Yonhap news-U.S. historian denounces Japanese scholars’ statement over wartime sexual slavery

    WASHINGTON, March 25 (Yonhap) — An American history scholar expressed strong displeasure Wednesday after a group of Japanese historians demanded a U.S. publisher revise the description of Japan’s sexual enslavement of women during World War II in a textbook.

    The demand, led by history scholar Ikuhiko Hata, followed and were similar to the much-denounced attempts by Japan’s government to pressure U.S. publisher McGraw-Hill to alter the description of the sexual slavery issue, claiming there are grave errors in the textbook.

    The attempts were denounced as efforts to water down the atrocity.

    Last month, Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut, and 18 other American scholars issued a statement denouncing Japan’s demand toward the publisher as attempts to “censor history.” In addition to those scholars, Harvard Professor Andrew Gordon joined in the statement later, she said.

    On Tuesday, Dudden criticized the Japanese scholars’ demand.

    “To me, on the eve of 70th anniversary commemorations, this is simply part of the deeper effort by a small yet incredibly powerful and well-connected part of Japanese society to bolster official claims about the war and empire in general,” she said.

    “Unfortunately, their collective ‘noise’ pre-empts the ability to engage in constructive dialogue and learning, and it transforms the topics involved such as the history of the comfort women into objects with which to brand people ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ Japanese. This isn’t history, however. Instead, it is identity and memory politics,” she added.

    Calling Japan’s sexual slavery “a history that happened” and the “grotesque violation of the human rights of those trapped within its state-sponsored system,” the professor also said her group of scholars will continue to support academic freedom for everyone engaged in researching, writing, and teaching about the issue.

    “We will not retract or alter our statement,” she said.

    Following the Japanese government’s request, McGraw-Hill has said it “unequivocally” stands by the description of the sexual slavery issue in its textbook. On Wednesday, the publisher said it does not have any additional comments on the Japanese historians’ demand.

    Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. But Japan has long attempted to whitewash the atrocity.

    The sexual slavery issue has been the biggest thorn in frayed relations between Japan and South Korea, with Seoul demanding Japan take steps to address the grievances of elderly Korean victims of the atrocity and Japan refusing to do so.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #13

    Yeah, I was thinking that. It’s only a ‘gaffe’ if what he says causes outrage, but it didn’t, did it? No one minded in the least. Job done- from now on ‘military’ is fine for the right-wingers to use, it seems.

  • Re GOJ investment in overseas universities with “no strings attached”:

    Academics fail Abe administration on history
    SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, May 9, 2015 (excerpt):

    […] T. J. Pempel, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, is an influential Japan-hand in the United States.

    “I have been approached by the local (consul general’s) office in which the agenda seemed to be to convince me of the ‘correctness’ of Japan’s positions on comfort women, the disputed Senkaku islands, and so on — usually with little regard for historical fact.”

    It is interesting that a number of people I contacted for comments preferred not to be quoted. Some cited pending grants and concerns about reprisals as the reason, while others don’t want to become targeted or risk relationships in Japan that might suffer if they voiced their concerns. Privately, many U.S., European and Australian academics are scathing in their appraisal of the Japanese government’s more aggressive campaign to promote revisionist history, but are reluctant to go on record as saying so. Thus the 187 scholars who signed the open letter are the tip of an iceberg.

    Many cite Japanese government contacts who share their views, but it is also apparent to them that some prominent Japanese academics and advisers have trimmed their sails to the prevailing winds under Abe and actively bad-mouth foreign journalists and scholars who are speaking truth to power. The new rules of engagement in contemporary Japan reflect less tolerance for dissent and academic freedom, and it is the Japanese public, journalists and academics who are paying the steepest price for this deepening chill.

    Whole article at:

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    ‘Privately, many U.S., European and Australian academics are scathing in their appraisal of the Japanese government’s more aggressive campaign to promote revisionist history, but are reluctant to go on record as saying so.’

    Yeah, thanks for nothing. Keep lining your own pockets first, but I’ll remember to check if you were there for us when we needed it.

  • I think this comment epitomises the whole position very well, for everyone, other than the Japanese:

    “…because revisionist Japanese “attitudes are at best sexist and insensitive in the extreme, tantamount to Holocaust denial; at worst they represent a challenge to the foundations of the post-World War II human-rights regime..”

    That sums it it extremely well. Kudos for saying so publicly too.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>