Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #581 Update on Japanese Fascism

Recorded Jan­u­ary 15, 2007

Lis­ten: MP3

This is one, 30-minute broad­cast.


NB: This stream con­tains both FTR #s 580 and 581 in sequence. Each is a 30 minute broadcast.

Intro­duc­tion: 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, 446, 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, 446, 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#446, 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.)


One comment for “FTR #581 Update on Japanese Fascism”

  1. Well this is some deeply trou­bling news com­ing out Japan’s new gov­ern­ment. Also this. And this. And...oh please no.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 4, 2013, 1:32 pm

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