Recorded January 15, 2007
NB: This stream contains both FTR #s 580 and 581 in sequence. Each is a 30 minute broadcast.
Highlighting recent trends toward reviving the ultra-nationalism and historical revisionism of Japan’s fascist past, this program sets forth the political agenda being pushed by Shinzo Abe, the newly elected Prime Minister. The grandson of Japanese War Criminal Nobosuke Kishi, Abe has succeeded his grandfather as head of the LDP—itself a vehicle for the perpetuation of Japan’s World War II political and economic power structure. With the Japanese people experiencing heightened stress and alienation because of economic pressures, the possibility of that social unrest expressing itself as militaristic nationalism and fascism is one possible result of the right-wing agenda being implemented by Abe. In addition to authorizing a military buildup and moving to ease restrictions on the Japanese military, Abe has implemented a school curriculum that institutionalizes right-wing (“patriotic”) propaganda as a mandatory element of Japanese public education. It may well be that the recent North Korean atomic test will aid Abe’s agenda and push for rearmament.
Program Highlights Include: The view of the Japanese right-wing that American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was responsible for World War II; Nobosuke Kishi’s activities in wartime Japan, including his signing of Japan’s declaration of war against the United States; the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon’s financial aid to North Korea; review of the Unification Church’s role as an extension of the Japanese patriotic societies that brought fascism to Japan in the 1930’s; the possibility that Moon’s aid to North Korea may have been intended to aid that country’s nuclear buildup, thus providing an excuse for Japanese rearmament. For more about the subject of Japanese fascism, see: FTR#’s 290, 291, 296, 426, 427, 428, 445, 451, 509, 551.
1. Beginning with an op-ed column about the re-emergence of the Japanese far right, the program sets forth the severe social strain affecting the Japanese people. Should those pressures continue to mount without Japanese society developing an outlet for them, the temptation to resort to the mechanisms of that country’s fascist past might prove too strong to overcome. “Beneath the sheen of high-tech tranquility that characterizes modern, conformist Japan stirs an angry, alienated and deeply pessimistic populace teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. So the ascendance of a hawkish new leader, Shinzo Abe, as the hand-picked successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday raises fears that the nation’s long-repressed well of virulent nationalism, buried just beneath the surface, could again rise up, emboldened by a Bush administration seeking a surrogate partner to contain China’s ambitions in Asia.”
(“Will the rising Sun Rise Again?” by Michael Zielenziger; The Los Angeles Times; 9/25/2006; p. B11.)
2. “Japan is rapidly aging because its young women refuse to marry and bear children. They say raising kids in modern Japan is far too expensive and offers too little reward. Besides, compared to their mothers, the aspirations of educated women extend beyond child-rearing, even though most Japanese men still insist that their wives stay home. The nation’s middle-class army of sarariman (white-collar) workers, uniformed in their blue suits and white shirts, is committing suicide in record numbers—three times as many as die in car accidents—because the system of lifetime employment in which they started their careers is crumbling. More troubling still are the more than 1 million Japanese twentysomethings who cannot find work and are not involved in any educational or training programs. A high number of these adults, primarily men, are social isolates, or hikikomori. They hide in their rooms for months or years at a time rather than try to fit into a society that demands mass conformity and uses quietly powerful repression to forge it.” (Idem.)
3. Adding to the severity of the mounting pressures on the Japanese people is the fact that the initially glowing reports about the upturn of the Japanese economy are premature. Note the predominance of the Liberal Democratic Party in Japanese politics. As we have seen in—among other broadcasts—FTR#’s 428, 445, 451, the LDP became a repository for unreconstructed Japanese fascists and war criminals, who perpetuated the predominance of the economic elements that launched (and benefited from) Japan’s war of aggression. The LDP made good use of the billions of dollars in war booty stolen by Japan during World War II. “This Japan has yet to design the social architecture necessary to embrace the individualism and self-expression we in the West associate with the post-industrial era. Neither schizophrenic nor suffering from any other mental illness, the only refuge these hikikomori find from a society they cannot trust is the bedrooms in their parents’ apartments. They are the nails that stick up and refuse to be hammered down. Into this unhappy stew of unacknowledged social unrest enters Abe, 52, who replaces the maverick Koizumi after his more than 5 ½ years at the helm of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has essentially run the nation since 1955. Recent headlines proclaiming Japan’s robust return to economic vibrancy are premature; the economy grew only 0.2% in the last quarter (compared with nearly 3% in the U.S.); the national fiscal debt is 170% of gross domestic product, and the nation is rapidly depopulating. Last year, there were 15,000 more deaths than births in Japan, a nation that does not welcome immigrants. Demographers predict that by 2020, one in nine Japanese will be over the age of 80.” (Idem.)
4. Abe’s ascension to the pinnacle of Japanese political power perpetuates a continuum of corruption stretching from World War II to the present. Abe is the grandson of Nobosuke Kishi, a Japanese war criminal who played a decisive role in the perpetuation of the economic and political status quo from the Second World War. “Hobbled by the mountains of debt they accumulated after the collapse of the infamous ‘bubble economy’ in 1989, Japanese corporations restored profits by laying off thousands of older workers and by not hiring younger ones. Little wonder that youth unemployment is at record highs, that more than 20% of working people in their 20s now earn less than 1.5 million yen a year (just under $13,000) or that nearly 32% of young workers are ‘non-permanent’—without job guarantees, annual raises or other benefits. Fifteen years ago, the comparable figure was 10%. Abe, a well-known hawk, wants to rewrite the country’s postwar constitution in order to empower Japan’s military. He promises to visit Yasukuni Shrine, which venerates World War II criminals, a move that riles leaders in Beijing and Seoul because it remains the spiritual pillar of the nation’s wartime past. Abe is the grandson of former Prime Minister Nobosuke Kishi, who ratified the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty that even today keeps American Marines on Okinawa. [Emphasis added.] He wants to deepen the already-strong defense bonds that link Tokyo and Washington. He envisions Japan as a ‘country that can be proud of its history and culture,’ a nod to the virulent strains of nationalism still frighteningly potent within Japanese society.” (Idem.)
5. Supplementing and encouraging the Japanese far right’s move toward heightened militarism is the Bush administration, which encourages Japan’s rising military profile around the world. As noted in the excerpt that follows, Abe’s push for a more right-wing and nationalist Japan is supplemented by extreme right politicians, who have eluded the limelight for the most part. “The Bush administration naturally sees Japan and Abe as Washington’s closest ally in the Pacific, even though Tokyo’s relations with its most important neighbors, China and South Korea, have never been more on edge. A. U.S. that once worried about containing Japanese militarism now insists that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces participate in the rehabilitation of Iraq, ‘putting boots on the ground,’ as U.S. officials put it, even though these acts violate the constitution our occupation forces dictated to the Japanese. The White House and Pentagon would welcome a Japan that beefs up its defenses against a potential threat from North Korea and the surging power of China. Yet this narrow focus on projecting military obscures some potentially more disturbing truths. Only a few steps outside the spotlight being trained on Abe are powerful political leaders such as Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of metropolitan Tokyo. He wrote the book The Japan that Can Say ‘No’, which controversially advocated that Japan strongly reassert its own national and militarily independence. Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone has recently advocated that his nation needs to study the option of ‘going nuclear,’ and no one doubts that Tokyo has lots of plutonium from its nuclear power plants and the technology to build bombs.” (Idem.)
6. “At times of economic and social strain, when millions of young men wonder how they will find work and what their nation will became, virulent forms of nationalism have a way of binding up deeper wounds—witness the protests against Japan in China. Many Japanese recognize that their nation, so suffocatingly embraced by Washington since the end of World War II, has yet to determine its identity and national interests. Is it so far-fetched to imagine a day when a re-armed, angry and nuclear-potent Japan cuts its ties with Washington in order to reassert a more independent foreign policy? Would that make Pacific Asia a more tranquil or a more dangerous place?” (Idem.)
7. “Japan needs to decouple its future from the United States, resolve the challenges of its history and move vigorously to create a new and more integrated relationship with its long-term economic partners in Asia, especially China. The leaders of Japan’s multinational businesses already well understand this, and they may yet help transform the practical vision of their new prime minister. If they do not succeed, however, Abe’s ascension may ultimately trigger the kind of arms race and brinksmanship that would destabilize all of Asia. In that sense, he could be the wrong man at the wrong time.” (Idem.)
8. Next, the program sets forth the political resume of Nobosuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather and an author of the political legacy to which his grandson is heir. Note that war criminal Kishi’s cell mate at Sugamo prison was Yoshio Kodama. As discussed in FTR#445, Kodama was the godfather of the Japanese underworld, a major Japanese war criminal in his own right, and the CIA’s man in Japan. As discussed in FTR#’s 84, 291, 446, 551, Kodama was a major, early figure in the Unification Church. “In 1956, for example, the Eisenhower Administration labored long and hard to install Kishi as head of the newly-merged Liberal-Democratic Party and as Japan’s new prime minister. This was the same Kishi who had been a member of the hard-core ruling clique in Manchuria with General Tojo Hideki and Hoshino Naoki, head of the narcotics monopoly. Kishi had also signed Japan’s Declaration of War against America in December 1941. During World War II, he was vice minister of munitions and minister of commerce and industry, actively involved in slave labor. Along the way, he made a personal fortune in side-deals with the zaibatsu. Following Japan’s surrender, he was one of the most prominent indicted war criminals at Sugamo, where he was a cellmate of Kodama. In 1948, when his release from prison was purchased by Kodama, Kishi began organizing the financial base of the LDP, using Kodama’s black gold and injections of M-Fund cash. For ten years, Kishi was groomed as America’s Boy by Harry Kern, Eugene Dooman, Compton Packenham and other members of Averell Harriman’s group at the America Council for Japan (ACJ). They worked tirelessly to improve Kishi’s mousy image, tutored him in English, and taught him to like Scotch. To them, Kishi was America’s ‘only bet left in Japan.’ All this was done covertly, for if the Japanese public learned that Washington was using the M-Fund to replace one prime minister with another, the democracy fiction would collapse.”
(Gold Warriors; Sterling and Peggy Seagraves; Copyright 2003 by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave; Verso Books [HC]; ISBN 1–85984-542–8; pp. 121–122.)
9. As part of his political agenda, Abe has launched a patriotic school curriculum to be taught to Japanese children. Paragraph 10 highlights the type of fascist propaganda that is marketed by the Japanese far right. Will Japanese children be learning this type of thing in school?! “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Friday successfully pushed through landmark laws requiring Japanese schools to encourage patriotism in the classroom and elevating the Defense Agency to the status of a full ministry for the first time since World War II. Both measures are considered cornerstones of Abe’s conservative agenda to bolster Japan’s military status and rebuild national pride in a country that had long associated patriotism with its imperialist past. The legislation cleared the upper house of parliament on Friday after winning approval in the lower house last month and will come into effect early next year. Abe, Japan’s first prime minister born after World War II, had made education reform a key issue during his campaign to succeed Junichiro Koizumi in September. His bid to restore patriotism in schools has drawn harsh criticism from Japanese pacifists, who have argued that such a law echoes the state-sponsored indoctrination of children practiced by Japan’s past military leaders. But Abe and other proponents have countered that a renewed embrace of patriotism is an essential step forward for Japan as it gradually emerges from a decades-long sense of guilt over World War II. In recent years, for instance, local municipalities have begun enforcing laws requiring the national anthem to be sung and the Japanese flag flown at certain school ceremonies, despite objections from teachers unions, which remain one of the last bastions of pacifism in Japan. The education reform law is likely to dramatically increase the number of schools using revisionist textbooks that have been heralded by conservatives here but decried by Japan’s wartime victims — particularly China and South Korea — as whitewashing its past aggression. Such books, for instance, omit reference to ‘comfort women,’ a euphemism for the thousands of Asian women forced into sexual bondage by the Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s.”
(“Japan Passes Landmark Patriotism Laws” by Anthony Faiola; The Washington Post; Friday, December 15, 2006.)
10. Indicative of the extremism of the Japanese right-wing historical revisionists is the fact that a museum adjacent to the controversial Yasukuni shrine features an exhibit that blames World War II on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the United States! Implementing similar revisionism is the official house historian for the Bertelsmann firm, which dominates English-language publishing. The official publishing house for the SS in World War II, Bertelsmann was run for many years by Heinrich Mohn, himself a member of the SS. Bertelsmann’s house historian Dirk Bavendamm has advanced the view that Roosevelt, the United States and—you guessed it—the Jews were responsible for World War II. One can only wonder if Japanese school children will be taught similar propaganda. (For more about Bavendamm and Bertelsmann, see—among other programs—FTR#298. Perhaps Bertelsmann will see to it that American children are taught similar revisionism!) “Yasukuni shrine officials have agreed to delete a controversial exhibit and discuss further changes to the shrine’s military museum, criticized by many for glossing over Japan’s wartime history. Officials from the shrine will meet a leading conservative historian today to discuss the alternations. These are likely to focus on exhibits that accuse the US of deliberately forcing Japan into the Second World War, but are unlikely to address more contentious displays relating to the Japanese invasion of China and Southeast Asia. However, agreement to make changes would show that Yasukuni, which has become a flashpoint in Japan’s relations with Asia, is sensitive to outside pressure even though it is a private religious organization. The museum, which was renovated in 2002 to reflect what many consider a revisionist view of Japanese history, is adjacent to the shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including a handful of convicted war criminals. Hisahiko Okazaki, a right-wing political commentator, said museum staff and an advisory historian from Japan’s self-defense force had agreed to meet him to discuss potential changes. The meeting follows a column in yesterday’s Sankei newspaper, in which Mr. Okazaki called for the removal of an exhibit accusing Franklin D. Roosevelt, the former US president, of engineering a war with Japan to strengthen the US economy. The exhibit says the plan to force Japan into war followed the failure of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Mr. Okazaki said the shrine had agreed yesterday to delete that reference . . . . [Emphasis added.]”
(“Japan to Remove Exhibit from War Museum” by David Pilling; Financial Times; 8/25/2006; p. 2.)
11. The recent atomic arms test by North Korea may well reinforce what Abe intends to do. In light of the information in paragraph 12, it is interesting to speculate about the possibility that assistance to North Korea by the Unification Church may have furthered that country’s nuclear weapons program, thus providing support to the right-wing agenda that Abe is trying to launch. “The last time North Korea tested a powerful new weapon, in 1998 when it fired a ballistic missile over the largest Japanese island, Japan reacted by upgrading its military and swinging politically to the right. North Korea’s claim that it tested a nuclear weapon on Monday appears likely to push Japan even further down the same nationalist path. Many political analysts say the test, which has yet to be confirmed, could weaken public support for the pacifism Japan adopted after World War II and prompt it to seek a growing regional security role. . . . The most likely result of North Korea’s actions, analysts say, would be to rally public opinion around Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and his calls for taking Japan in a more assertive direction. The crisis may also increase Mr. Abe’s chances of revising the Constitution to allow Japan to possess full-fledged armed forces. . . .”
(“Japan Now Seems Likely to Rally Behind New Prime Minister’s Call for a Stronger Military” by Martin Fackler; The New York Times; 8/10/2006; p. A8.)
12. In FTR#291, we examined the probability that the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon is actually an extension of the patriotic societies that brought fascism to Japan, and that have functioned as a covert enforcement arm for the zaibatsu. In light of that analysis, it is interesting to note that North Korea’s atomic arms development program appears to have been reinforced by contributions to that country by the Unification Church. Might those contributions have been made (in part at least) to bring about conditions that justify a more militaristic and nationalistic stance by Japan? (For more about the patriotic societies, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 296, 428.) “The Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s business empire, which includes the right-wing Washington Times, paid millions of dollars to North Korea’s communist leaders in the early 1990s when the hard-line government needed foreign currency to finance its weapons programs, according to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency documents. The payments included a $3 million ‘birthday present’ to current communist leader Kim Jong Il and offshore payments amounting to ‘several tens of million dollars’ to the previous communist dictator, Kim Il Sung, the documents said. Moon apparently was seeking a business foothold in North Korea, but the transactions also raised potential legal questions for Moon, who appears to have defied U.S. embargos on trade and financial relations with the Pyongyang government. [Emphasis added.] Those legal questions were never pursued, however, apparently because of Moon’s powerful political connections within the Republican power structure of Washington, including financial and political ties to the Bush family. Besides making alleged payments to North Korea’s communist leaders, the 86-year-old founder of the South Korean-based Unification Church has funneled large sums of money, possibly millions of dollars, to former President George H.W. Bush. . . .”
(“Moon, North Korea and the Bushes” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 10/11/2006.)