ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”


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Hi Blog.  Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to):  PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The American Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism.  Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this came out over a year ago?  Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government.  A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Lifting the lid on one of the most influential, and secretive, political organisations in Japan

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/12/2015

Reporter: Matthew Carney

Nippon Kaigi, or ‘Japan Conference’, has an impressive list of members and aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies, and Lateline gains rare access to this secretive and ultra-conservative organisation.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: A call has gone out and people from all over Japan have responded. To hear a vision from one of Japan’s most powerful political organisations, the Nippon Kaigi. And it’s back to the future. Nippon Kaigi want to restore the status of the Emperor, keep women in the home to nurture family and rebuild the might of the armed forces.

To do that, they have to scrap the pacifist constitution that was imposed by the Americans. This is the first step, they say, to shake off the shame of the defeat in World War II and restore pride.

YOSHIKO SAKURAI, JOURNALIST (voiceover translation): We need to ask ourselves: will the current constitution of Japan protect Japan and its people? The answer is no. We need a constitution that reflects the true Japanese identity.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The biggest champion to the cause and the group’s specialist advisor is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (voiceover translation): To create a constitution suitable for the 21st Century, that’s where it needs to be spread throughout Japan. I seek your continued support on this. Let’s move forward towards changing the Constitution.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Nippon Kaigi has serious clout. The Deputy Prime Minister is also a member, as well as 80 per cent of the cabinet, as are almost half of all parliamentarians. It’s a kind of uber lobby group that uses its 38,000 members to mobilise support.

The Nippon Kaigi has pledged to collect 10 million signatures by next April to change the Constitution. Some say it’s a cult-like organisation.

KOICHI NAKANO, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: I think it is, you know, cultish, in the sense that it’s very sectarian. They have a very strong view of us and them. They have a sense of the inner group because they feel victimised, marginalised and they have been subjected to severe injustice, that they need to take back Japan.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But their spokesperson says they are only trying to normalise Japan.

AKIRA MOMOCHI, NIPPON KAIGI, STRATEGIC COMMITTEE (voiceover translation): It is proper for an independent sovereign nation to have an army. There are no sovereign nations without one. Armies are deterrents. They exist to prevent war. We’ll keep our pacifist traditions, but we need to respond to the rising threat of China.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The fundamental vision for many in the group is to go back to a time when they say Japan was pure and free from foreign influence, like the Edo Period in the 16th to 18th centuries when outsiders were strictly forbidden and Japanese culture flourished. They believe this beautiful Japan has been lost.

HIDEAKI KASE, NIPPON KAIGI, TOKYO BRANCH: There are two Japans. One is traditional Japan and one is Westernised Japan. And we wish to revert to the traditional Japan.

KOICHI NAKANO: They are romantic, they are irrational, they live in their own world. So they lack strategic thinking in terms of what they are going for and for what reason and how does that serve national interest in realistic terms?

MATTHEW CARNEY: The darker side to the organisation is to deny any wrongdoing in Japan’s war-time past. They assert World War II was one of defence, not aggression. They say comfort women were not sex slaves, but well-paid prostitutes and the rape and pillage of Nanjing in China that historians say killed up to 200,000 was a fiction.

HIDEAKI KASE: There was no massacre at all. That is an utterly false accusation.

KOICHI NAKANO: They try to rewrite history in order – and they think that this is fundamental to what they see as Japan’s need to restore pride. They think that because the kids and the – you know, the adults of Japan are being brainwashed by self-blame and a sense of shame in their history.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Many in Japan think Nippon Kaigi’s ideas are dangerous and have to be countered. Professor Setsu Kobayashi is one of the country’s top constitutional experts.

SETSU KOBAYASHI, CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERT (voiceover translation): They’re thinking about Asia before the war when Japan was the leader of Asia. They want to repeat that. They openly say that.

MATTHEW CARNEY: On his Friday lunchtime radio spot, he warns against reform of the Constitution, arguing it could lead Japan down the warpath. So far, Prime Minister Abe and Nippon Kaigi have succeeded in passing security bills that let the armed forces fight overseas again. Kobayashi says the move is unconstitutional.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): The majority of people are not convinced. We have to fight and not give up, otherwise we’ll live under a dictatorship. Freedom and democracy will not exist.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi was once a member of Nippon Kaigi, but is now one of its biggest critics. He tried to change them from the inside, but couldn’t. As a self-described commoner, he says the organisation is one of elites, out of touch with the people. Polls consistently show that the majority of Japanese don’t want the country’s pacifist constitution to change.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): They want to achieve the dream that Japan pursued pre-war to be one of the top five military powers in the world. To enable this, our country will go around the world fighting wars alongside the Americans. Mr Abe went to the United Nations and said that Japan will seek aggressive peace; militarism is another name.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi now devotes much of his time fighting the Nippon Kaigi and the reform of the Constitution. He believes it’s a battle for the very hearts and minds of the Japanese and the outcome will decide the country’s future. The Nippon Kaigi say their ambition is to simply protect Japan and its identity.

AKIRA MOMOCHI (voiceover translation): It is a difference of opinion. We want to retain the Japanese traditions, to make Japan as it should be. We have the power to do it.


12 comments on “ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”

  • The Edo period was an awful hell for the average person, a life which nobody would want to have to experience.

    Ahhh, but those Nippon Kaigi folks are imagining themselves as being the ruling super-rich super-powerful top 1%.

    The life of the top 1% in the Edo period may have been nice, but life for the poorest 99% in the Edo period was hell.

  • Vlastos wrote an excellent book; The Mirror of Modernity, which explains this misplaced fascination with the Edo-era as the last ‘perfect NJ-free Japan’. The image most modern Japanese have of the edo-era isn’t of having no antibiotics and eeking out a subsistence existence, is it.

  • Ahhh…just like I.S. (ISIS/Daesh).

    They crave for the past….yet use all the modern technology that is not part of that past nor created by them in their daily lives. Hypocrites the lot of them.

    Let them go back to their crappy mud huts and infighting and leave all that is foreign behind, like mobile phones, TV, internet, cars, electricity, fridges, Air Con. meat, bread..etc etc…all foreign imports that they despise.
    Let’s see how romantic their image of “beautiful Japan” in its virgin form is to them then!

  • @ John K #3

    Exactly! And this is why all the ‘take back Japan’, ‘beautiful Japan’, ‘Japanese traditions and traditional values’ is so much rubbish. It’s as empty a concept as possible. It’s totally selective with no accountability, and panders to fantasists who haven’t got a clue about Japan’s historical reality. It’s based on Showa era post-war chambara dramas rather than fact.
    It would be analogous to the absurdity of Americans who espoused riding round dressed as Roy Rogers shooting at ‘Injuns!’, or Englishmen dressing up as King Arthur and swearing to ‘slay dragons’ for their wives. Pure fantasy, and the blame lays with the right-wings deliberate efforts to subvert education in the post-war period- to such a degree of success that even modern right-wingers don’t understand how imaginary their understanding of the Edo-era is.

  • The Nippon Kaigi guy who speaks at the very end;

    ‘We want to make Japan as it should be’.

    Hmm…. Nippon Kaigi has 38,000 members in a population of 125,000,000. They are way over-represented by having half of politicians as members. Japan as it ‘should be’? What does that even really mean? Seriously, it’s a minority opinion of the Nippon Kaigi members, who by operating behind the curtain of a cowed domestic press, have been able to advance their agenda by failing to even tell the voting populace that they are even electing people who will make these choices with no notification, discussion, or in formed consent. It’s a kind of coup, I guess, a coup de main.

  • At least someone is trying to counter the right-wing narrative;

    An anime collaborative has made this version of a 2004 manga that shows the importance of protecting the constitution.
    Written in 2004, it amazingly prescient in it’s depiction of the actions that the Abe administration has taken since 2012, and the Nippon Kaigi views that the Abe administration advocates.

    With the exception that it also depicts the Japanese as the ‘victims’ of WW2 without mentioning the horror Japan inflicted on the world (as is so often the lack of awareness of Japan’s wartime actions amongst the Japanese), it is still the most articulate home-grown anti-Japanese right-wing message I have seen thus far.

    I bet it doesn’t get even a fraction of the attention that SEALDS leaders got.

  • @ Jim Di Griz #6

    Great video, thanks for sharing! I see how the video depicts the Japanese citizenry as victims of the national government’s war machine, but I don’t really see it depicting the Japanese empire as victims of the Allied forces in WW2. Maybe I misunderstood your comment? But still, it is indeed sad that the video makes no effort to acknowledge the misery and suffering war brings upon the victims of the aggressors. It should also plainly state something along the lines of, “We can’t repeat the mistake of attacking other countries and destroying those peoples’ lives.” But, I guess that would be asking too much.

  • @ Andrew In Saitama #7

    I totally agree with that sentiment!

    But when Nippon Kaigi talk about Japan rejecting our liberal western concepts of inalienable human rights for men and women of all colors, and rejecting western culture, what they ACTUALLY mean is that they want to pick and choose what parts they get to accept and reject personally, whilst acting to deny the Japanese masses the same power to choose.

    What they want isn’t to live an imaginary ‘Edo era perfect Japan’, they just want to make everyone else live in one!

    In exactly the same way that surveys and interviews show Japanese people expressing ideas such as ‘there are so many Chinese in Tokyo, its not ‘like’ Japan’; it’s the very idea many Japanese have that even seeing many NJ makes them ‘feel less Japanese’.

    So the Nippon Kaigi don’t want to give up their creature comforts, they just want all other Japanese to do so. They want to look out of their windows at a facsimile of imaginary Edo Japan, like watching a moving painting or a 70’s TV chambara drama, so that by seeing, THEY can ‘feel’ more Japanese.

    It’s insane.

  • @ HJ #8

    Thanks. What I was trying to say was that the anime references US firebombing of Japan, but fails to touch on Japanese Army war crimes (surely as good a reason as any for Japanese aversion to war; being bullied into committing rape and genocide).

    But that’s just asking too much (more likely asking too much of potential Japanese viewers that the anime makers);
    ‘War was terrible FOR US’ is the limit of Japanese social awareness of the issue.

  • In related news, following Abe’s decision to put SDF leaders on a par with defense ministry officials, there is now a power struggle with SDF leaders seeking to create policy without the approval of defense ministry officials.

    There goes the constitutions ‘civilian control of the self defense forces’, it seems.

    We should all (Japanese and NJ alike) be afraid of SDF deciding policy for itself; this is how the Japanese military were able to bypass civilian control, and force Japan into war in the Imperial era, and look how that turned out.

    In the U.S. and the UK, the military explicitly expresses the idea that it is the tool of policy decided by government, not a policy maker. And, quite frankly, unelected military leaders seeking to decide policy in secrecy, with no accountability to the voting public is a frightening thing; they are hardly likely to create a peaceful policy that sees them powerless, unfunded, or redundant.

    It baffles that the Nippon Kaigi supporting Abe doesn’t understand that politicians like him will be sidelined by military junta.

  • @ Jim,WE CAN CHOOSE! “they want to pick and choose what parts they get to accept and reject personally” indeed.
    Heard that first in 1991 from an otherwise “cool western” woman when in her cups would declare ” I love Japan” and ” WE CAN CHOOSE”.

    The sad fact is for the average right leaning J person in bedtown Japan, “democracy” and “western values” means the right for THEM PERSONALLY (they think) to cherry pick which aspects of liberalism they personally want to accept for their “lifestyle”

    Thus in the late 80s early 90s from my Gaijin Handlers I constantly met with e.g That (otherwise respectable) Japanese person has personally chose not to interact with Gaijin- you cant talk to him”

    “Its not racist prejudice its just a choice”. “Sorry I don’t do gaijin”

    Its so egotistical and its western values as a lifestyle choice, not as anything meaningful.

    These days I dont “do” Japanese clients on the international stage either, so I guess its come around. That’s Karma.


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