Hi Blog. Not necessarily NJ-rights related, but here are three recent podcasts I got a heckuva lot out of, and I think you might too.
One was released this very morning at online media station Trans Pacific Radio. Garrett DiOrio gave an editorial on the former Defense Minister Kyuuma’s remark about the atomic bombing at the closing of WWII (which led to his resignation). A remark, it might surprise you, I actually agree with.
So does Garrett. But it’s rare when I agree 100% with somebody’s writing, as I did Garrett’s editorial. At times I felt as if Garrett had put a tape recorder under my bed and listened to me talk in my sleep about this issue.
Victimhood, though, is central to the denial argument. Claiming that the War was terrible and all who lived through it were victims together and that they should just try to move on is the only way the fact that it was the government of Japan that was primarily responsible for all of that suffering can be pushed into the background.
This Japan-as-victim mantra is so often repeated that it is as firmly a part of the canon of political correctness as more legitimate things such as the unacceptability of nuclear war and racism.
Back when much to-do was made over Minister Yanagisawa’s unfortunate “birth-giving machines” remark, I should have seen this dark side of political correctness rearing up its ugly head in Japan. Had people called for his resignation over his being part of a Cabinet with a deep disconnect with and disregard for the people of this nation, it would have made sense, but that wasn’t what happened. He said the wrong thing and it could have been sexist. That’s unforgivable.
Fumio Kyuma said something reasonable, if disagreeable. It could have been insensitive, though. More important, it violated the Japan-as-victim image Abe and other Diet members had worked so hard to maintain. After all, if the atomic bombs were unavoidable, that means something led up to them, which means the fact that those bombings were preceded by over thirteen years of war, in which Japan was the aggressor, would be dragged up all over again. That is not what the kantei wants, especially in the run-up to an important election.
This makes so much sense it’s scary. 20 minutes. Listen to, or read, the entire editorial at
Another talk I got a lot out of is a February 11, 2004 talk by Bruce Cumings, a scholar of Korean history, entitled
“Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria”.
…as the Iraq war was unfolding. One of the curiosities of the commentary about the occupation of Iraq is that the [Bush] Administration wanted to compare what was going on to our occupations of Japan and West Germany. Democracy was going to flower in Iraq just as it did in Japan and West Germany. The opponents of the war constantly referred back to the quagmire that was the war in Viet Nam, and with the exception of a couple of editorials that I wrote, I saw nobody ever refer to the occupation of South Korea. Many Americans don’t realize that well before the Korean War, the United States set up a military government in South Korea, and ran it from 1945 to 1948. It had a very deep impact on Postwar Korean history. There are many things about the Iraq Occupation that are directly comparable to our occupation of Korea…
It goes on to talk about how things went very, very wrong on the Korean Peninsula, the emergence of the DPRK, and how and why things to this day are pretty sour in the region (with some interesting KimJongilogy within). This issue matters to Debito.org greatly, as the GOJ uses the spectre of the DPRK on practically a daily basis to among other things justify its mistrust of the NJ community, denying the Zainichis the regular rights of multigenerational residency in Japan (such as voting in local elections).
45 minutes. You can download it from the U Chicago CHIASMOS website at:
The final podcast I’d like to point out to you is another CHIASMOS one: Tawara Yoshifumi, author and Japan Left commentator, on “Japan’s Education and Society in Crisis”, delivered May 17, 2007. As Secretary General of the Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, Tawara delivers an excellent first half (the second half gets a bit bogged down in leftist boilerplate and education minutia) on what the Abe Administration is angling for with the LDP’s educational reforms: the resurgence of a militarized Japan, able to fight wars and project hard power onto the international scene.
Great food for thought, and there was even a question from the audience on the school grading of patriotism even for Japan’s ethnic minorities (which the questioner unfortunately assumed would only mean Koreans); the answer was, everyone who attends Japanese primary and secondary schools enforcing patriotic guidelines will get graded on love of Japan regardless of nationality or ethnicity; Tawara mentions to a case of a Zainichi Korean getting graded down.
A source document of Mr Abe’s education reform is a report put out in December of 2000 by the National Alliance, of which the head is a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ezaki Reona. And what Professor Ezaki says is that the question of schoolchildren’s abilities is a question of innate ability. It’s determined already for each child at the time of birth. It is something transmitted genetically. Consequently, a rational school policy would have all children’s blood tested upon their entry at school. And those who show genes which predispose them to learning effectively should be given the appropriate elite education. And the other children should be given an education that will promote their sincere attitude towards life…
2 hours and change. In Japanese with excellent consecutive English translation as always from Professor Norma Field. Download from:
Enjoy. I did. This is one of the advantages of cycling about 12 hours and 200 kms a week with an iPod on my shoulder. Listen while you exercise and give your mind a workout, too. Debito in Sapporo
1 comment on “TPR on Kyuuma WWII remark, Cumings on DPRK, and Tawara on PM Abe’s Education Reforms”
It’s funny how the GOJ feels a need to continually push the “Japan as only victim of nuclear weapons” mantra.
Almost every middle and high school English textbook has a chapter devoted to Hiroshima. A news report a few nights ago expressed concern that a growing number of Japanese school kids, while able to cite the date and time of the Hiroshima blast, were unable to get the correct time for the Nagasaki bomb.
The justification for the concern was stated as being “the need to tell younger generations the horror of nuclear war”.
Agreed, nuclear war is a horrible thought. However, to claim special first-hand knowledge about the horror by merely being Japanese is a fallacy.
Furthermore, the atomic bombs are typically contrasted with Pearl Harbour. Hardly surprising, as this helps justify the “victim hood” mantra. Placed in context of Nanking, Changi, the Burma Railroad, along with the Allies’ perceptions of Tojo’s defencive policies, the bombs seem reasonable.
Nor do the history books mention that Japan was also trying to develop nuclear weapons, and that the fate of Hiroshima could easily have fallen on an allied city.
Kyuma’s remarks were unfortunate, maybe not even 100% accurate, but he appears to be victim, not of his own incompetence, but of upsetting the “common sense” status quo.