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

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FTR #813 Return of the Rising Sun, Part 3

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Side 1   Side 2

Intro­duc­tion: In his sec­ond stint as Prime Min­is­ter of Japan, Shin­zo Abe is reboot­ing the right-wing polit­i­cal agen­da he pur­sued dur­ing his first term in the last decade.

The grand­son of promi­nent Japan­ese war crim­i­nal Nobo­suke Kishi, Abe is imple­ment­ing revi­sion­ist pol­i­tics designed to obfus­cate Japan’s actions dur­ing World War II. (Kishi–Abe’s grand­fa­ther–imple­ment­ed Japan’s dec­la­ra­tion of war against the U.S. dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.)

For back­ground mate­r­i­al to this dis­cus­sion, see the Intro­duc­tion to the anti-fas­cist books, in addi­tion to the author inter­views and text excerpts of the Gold War­riors book by Ster­ling and Peg­gy Sea­grave.

In past pro­grams, we have not­ed that–as was the case in Ger­many–Japan­ese fas­cists were put back in pow­er after the war, in order to pur­sue an anti-com­mu­nist agen­da.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Some of the post­war chick­ens are com­ing home to roost in what may prove to be more than a rhetor­i­cal fash­ion.

  • School text­books are being edit­ed to reflect a revi­sion­ist per­spec­tive, more sym­pa­thet­ic to the ide­ol­o­gy and goals of Impe­r­i­al Japan.
  • A new secre­cy law has been passed, sti­fling open polit­i­cal dis­course in Japan about the war.
  • Abe has vis­it­ed the Yasuku­ni Shrine, a con­tro­ver­sial step that aggra­vat­ed Japan’s Asian neigh­bors and rivals.
  • The NHK tele­vi­sion net­work is being brought under the thumb of Abe’s admin­is­tra­tion, com­pro­mis­ing the integri­ty of Japan’s largest and (arguably) most pres­ti­gious news out­let.
  • Con­tro­ver­sial com­ments are strain­ing rela­tions with the Unit­ed States. Asser­tions by Abe allies include asser­tions that U.S. war crimes tri­bunals after the con­flict were intend­ed to obfus­cate Amer­i­can war crimes and the remark­able claim that U.S. troops used slave pros­ti­tutes sim­i­lar to the Japan­ese “com­fort women.”
  • Abe asso­ciates prais­ing the World War II Kamikaze pilots.
  • The Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush admin­is­tra­tions’ ille­gal ship­ping of 70 tons of plu­to­ni­um to Japan to bol­ster a secret nuclear weapons pro­gram that had been under­way since the 1960’s.
  • Japan­ese gov­ern­ment offi­cials are open­ly sanc­tion­ing anti-Kore­an racism and net­work­ing with orga­ni­za­tions that pro­mote that doc­trine. Sev­er­al mem­bers of Abe’s gov­ern­ment net­work with Japan­ese neo-Nazis. Echo­ing the polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy of eco­nom­i­cal­ly mori­bund Euro­pean coun­tries, Abe’s gov­ern­ment and the Japan­ese right are scape­goat­ing “Kore­ans” for Japan’s eco­nom­ic prob­lems. One sees sim­i­lar scape­goat­ing of “immi­grants” in the U.S. Will the answer to the decades-long eco­nom­ic prob­lems of Japan be “let them eat fas­cism?”
  • Vice-Prime Min­is­ter Taro Aso is a long­time admir­er of Nazi polit­i­cal strat­e­gy and advo­cates using the Nazi method for seiz­ing pow­er to sneak con­sti­tu­tion­al change past the Japan­ese pub­lic. Is Abe’s gov­ern­ment doing just that?
  • The State Depart­men­t’s evi­dent mis­giv­ings about Japan­ese chau­vin­ism haven’t stopped U.S. strate­gic plan­ners from sup­port­ing Japan’s move toward an offen­sive mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty, eye­ing North Korea and [pos­si­bly] Chi­na.

1. School text­books are being edit­ed to reflect a revi­sion­ist per­spec­tive, more sym­pa­thet­ic to the ide­ol­o­gy and goals of Impe­r­i­al Japan. A new secre­cy law has been passed, sti­fling open polit­i­cal dis­course in Japan about the war.

“In Text­book Fight, Japan Lead­ers Seek to Recast His­to­ry” by Mar­tin Fack­ler; The New York Times; 12/28/2013.

Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe’s con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment has begun to pur­sue a more open­ly nation­al­ist agen­da on an issue that crit­ics fear will push the coun­try far­ther from its post­war paci­fism: adding a more patri­ot­ic tone to Japan’s school text­books. . . .

. . . . Mr. Abe and the nation­al­ists have long argued that changes in the edu­ca­tion sys­tem are cru­cial to restor­ing the country’s sense of self, erod­ed over decades when chil­dren were taught what they call an over­ly neg­a­tive view of Japan’s wartime behav­ior.

The lat­est efforts for change start­ed slow­ly, but have picked up speed in recent weeks.

In Octo­ber, Mr. Abe’s edu­ca­tion min­is­ter ordered the school board here in Take­to­mi to use a con­ser­v­a­tive text­book it had reject­ed, the first time the nation­al gov­ern­ment has issued such a demand. In Novem­ber, the Edu­ca­tion Min­istry pro­posed new text­book screen­ing stan­dards, con­sid­ered like­ly to be adopt­ed, that would require the inclu­sion of nation­al­ist views of World War II-era his­to­ry.

This month, a gov­ern­ment-appoint­ed com­mit­tee sug­gest­ed a change that would bring pol­i­tics more direct­ly into edu­ca­tion: putting may­ors in charge of their local school dis­tricts, a move that oppo­nents say would increase polit­i­cal inter­fer­ence in text­book screen­ing. And just days ago, an advi­so­ry com­mit­tee to the Edu­ca­tion Min­istry sug­gest­ed hard­en­ing the pro­posed new stan­dards by requir­ing that text­books that do not nur­ture patri­o­tism be reject­ed. . . .

2a. Abe has vis­it­ed the Yasuku­ni Shrine, a con­tro­ver­sial step that aggra­vat­ed Japan’s Asian neigh­bors and rivals.

“With Shrine Vis­it, Leader Asserts Japan’s Track from Paci­fism” by Hiroko Tabuchi; The New York Times; 12/27/2014.

Shin­zo Abe’s past year as prime min­is­ter has con­cen­trat­ed chiefly on reviv­ing Japan’s long-ail­ing econ­o­my. Yet in Mr. Abe’s mind, the country’s new­found eco­nom­ic prowess is a means to an end: to build a more pow­er­ful, assertive Japan, com­plete with a full-fledged mil­i­tary, as well as pride in its World War II-era past.

That larg­er agen­da, which helped cut short Mr. Abe’s first stint in office in 2006–7, has again come to the fore­front in recent weeks, cul­mi­nat­ing in his year-end vis­it Thurs­day to the Yasuku­ni Shrine, which hon­ors the nation’s war dead, includ­ing sev­er­al war crim­i­nals who were exe­cut­ed after Japan’s defeat. . . .

. . . . Last month, he ignored blis­ter­ing crit­i­cism from polit­i­cal oppo­nents as well as the news media and steam­rollered through Par­lia­ment a law that would tight­en gov­ern­ment con­trol over state secrets. The law was pre­sent­ed by the gov­ern­ment as a mech­a­nism to aid in the shar­ing of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence with allies, and cre­ate an Amer­i­can-style Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.

Mr. Abe has also increased mil­i­tary spend­ing for the first time in a decade, and loos­ened self-imposed restric­tions on export­ing weapons. A new defense plan calls for the acqui­si­tion of drones and amphibi­ous assault vehi­cles to pre­pare for the prospect of a pro­longed rival­ry with Chi­na.

And experts say that next year, Mr. Abe could start tak­ing con­crete steps to rein­ter­pret, and ulti­mate­ly revise, Japan’s 1947 paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion, some­thing he has described as a life goal. Pro­posed changes could allow the coun­try to offi­cial­ly main­tain a stand­ing army for the first time since the war, and take on a larg­er glob­al secu­ri­ty role. . . .

. . . . Nor do Mr. Abe’s deeply revi­sion­ist views of his­to­ry — which he inher­it­ed from his grand­fa­ther Nobusuke Kishi, who was jailed for war crimes before even­tu­al­ly becom­ing prime min­is­ter — inspire con­fi­dence that Tokyo can play a big­ger secu­ri­ty role in Asia. . . .

2b. The U.S. appears to sanc­tion the bur­geon­ing Japan­ese mil­i­tarism, despite State Depart­ment and U.N. con­cerns about grow­ing Japan­ese racism.

“Exclu­sive: Japan, U.S. Dis­cussing Offen­sive Mil­i­tary Capa­bil­ity for Tokyo — Japan Offi­cials” by Nobuhi­ro Kubo; Reuters; 9/10/2013.

Japan and the Unit­ed States are explor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of Tokyo acquir­ing offen­sive weapons that would allow Japan to project pow­er far beyond its bor­ders, Japan­ese offi­cials said, a move that would like­ly infu­ri­ate Chi­na.

While Japan’s inten­si­fy­ing rival­ry with Chi­na dom­i­nates the head­lines, Tokyo’s focus would be the abil­ity to take out North Kore­an mis­sile bases, said three Japan­ese offi­cials involved in the process.

They said Tokyo was hold­ing the infor­mal, pre­vi­ously undis­closed talks with Wash­ing­ton about capa­bil­i­ties that would mark an enhance­ment of mil­i­tary might for a coun­try that has not fired a shot in anger since its defeat in World War Two.

The talks on what Japan regards as a “strike capa­bil­ity” are pre­lim­i­nary and do not cov­er spe­cific hard­ware at this stage, the Japan­ese offi­cials told Reuters.

Defense experts say an offen­sive capa­bil­ity would require a change in Japan’s pure­ly defen­sive mil­i­tary doc­trine, which could open the door to bil­lions of dol­lars worth of offen­sive mis­sile sys­tems and oth­er hard­ware. These could take var­i­ous forms, such as sub­ma­rine-fired cruise mis­siles sim­i­lar to the U.S. Tom­a­hawk.

U.S. offi­cials said there were no for­mal dis­cus­sions on the mat­ter but did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that infor­mal con­tacts on the issue had tak­en place. One U.S. offi­cial said Japan had approached Amer­i­can offi­cials infor­mally last year about the mat­ter.

Japan’s mil­i­tary is already robust but is con­strained by a paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion. The Self Defense Forces have dozens of naval sur­face ships, 16 sub­marines and three heli­copter car­ri­ers, with more ves­sels under con­struc­tion. Japan is also buy­ing 42 advanced F‑35 stealth fight­er jets.

Reshap­ing the mil­i­tary into a more assertive force is a core pol­icy of Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe. He has reversed a decade of mil­i­tary spend­ing cuts, end­ed a ban on Japan­ese troops fight­ing abroad and eased curbs on arms exports.

RILING CHINA

Tokyo had dropped a request to dis­cuss offen­sive capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing high-pro­file talks on revis­ing guide­lines for the U.S.-Japan secu­rity alliance which are expect­ed to be fin­ished by year-end, the Japan­ese offi­cials said. Instead, the sen­si­tive issue was “being dis­cussed on a sep­a­rate track”, said one offi­cial with direct knowl­edge of the mat­ter.

But any deal with Wash­ing­ton is years away and the obsta­cles are sig­nif­i­cant – from the costs to the heav­ily indebt­ed Japan­ese gov­ern­ment to con­cerns about ties with Asian neigh­bors such as Chi­na and sen­si­tiv­i­ties with­in the alliance itself.

The Japan­ese offi­cials said their U.S. coun­ter­parts were cau­tious to the idea, part­ly because it could out­rage Chi­na, which accus­es Abe of reviv­ing wartime mil­i­tarism.

The offi­cials declined to be iden­ti­fied because they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the closed-door delib­er­a­tions. A Japan­ese Defense Min­istry spokesman said he could not com­ment on nego­ti­a­tions with Wash­ing­ton.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said Asian coun­tries had a right to be con­cerned about any moves to strength­en Japan’s mil­i­tary con­sid­er­ing the country’s past and recent “mis­taken” words and actions about its his­to­ry.

“We again urge Japan to earnest­ly reflect on and learn the lessons of his­tory, respect the secu­rity con­cerns of coun­tries in the region and go down the path of peace­ful devel­op­ment,” Hua told a dai­ly news brief­ing in Bei­jing.

Japan would need U.S. back­ing for any shift in mil­i­tary doc­trine because it would change the frame­work of the alliance, often described as Amer­ica sup­ply­ing the “sword” of for­ward-based troops and nuclear deter­rence while Japan holds the defen­sive “shield”.

Wash­ing­ton did not have a posi­tion on upgrad­ing Japan’s offen­sive capa­bil­i­ties, “in part because the Japan­ese have not devel­oped a spe­cific con­cept or come to us with a spe­cific request”, said anoth­er U.S. offi­cial.

“We’re not there yet — and they’re not there yet,” the offi­cial said. “We’re pre­pared to have that con­ver­sa­tion when they’re ready.”

NORTH KOREAN MISSILES

North Korea lies less than 600 km (370 miles) from Japan at the clos­est point.

Pyongyang, which reg­u­larly fires short-range rock­ets into the sea sep­a­rat­ing the Kore­as from Japan, has improved its bal­lis­tic mis­sile capa­bil­i­ties and con­ducted three nuclear weapons tests, its most recent in Feb­ru­ary 2013.

In April, North Korea said that in the event of war on the Kore­an Penin­sula, Japan would be “con­sumed in nuclear flames”.

Part of Japan’s moti­va­tion for upgrad­ing its capa­bil­i­ties is a nag­ging sus­pi­cion that the Unit­ed States, with some 28,000 troops in South Korea as well as 38,000 in Japan, might hes­i­tate to attack the North in a cri­sis, Japan­ese experts said.

U.S. forces might hold off in some sit­u­a­tions, such as if South Korea want­ed to pre­vent an esca­la­tion, said Narushige Michishi­ta, a nation­al secu­rity advis­er to the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment from 2004–2006.

“We might want to main­tain some kind of lim­ited strike capa­bil­ity in order to be able to ini­ti­ate a strike, so that we can tell the Amer­i­cans, ‘unless you do the job for us, we will have to do it on our own,’” said Michishi­ta, a secu­rity expert at the Nation­al Grad­u­ate Insti­tute for Pol­icy Stud­ies in Tokyo.

Reflect­ing Japan’s con­cerns, Abe told par­lia­ment in May 2013 that it was vital “not to give the mis­taken impres­sion that the Amer­i­can sword would not be used” in an emer­gency.

“At this moment is it real­ly accept­able for Japan to have to plead with the U.S. to attack a mis­sile threat­en­ing to attack Japan?” Abe said.

Under cur­rent secu­rity guide­lines, in the event of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile attack, “U.S. forces will pro­vide Japan with nec­es­sary intel­li­gence and con­sider, as nec­es­sary, the use of forces pro­vid­ing addi­tional strike pow­er”.

SHROUDED IN EUPHEMISM

The infor­mal dis­cus­sions on offen­sive capa­bil­i­ties cov­er all options, from Japan con­tin­u­ing to rely com­pletely on Wash­ing­ton to get­ting the full panoply of weapon­ry itself.

Japan would like to reach a con­clu­sion in about five years, and then start acquir­ing hard­ware, one Japan­ese offi­cial said.

Tokyo had want­ed the dis­cus­sions includ­ed in the review of the Japan‑U.S. Defense Coop­er­a­tion Guide­lines that are expect­ed to cov­er areas such as logis­ti­cal sup­port and cyber­se­cu­rity. Those talks, which for­mally kicked off last Octo­ber, are the first in 17 years.

...

3. The NHK tele­vi­sion net­work is being brought under the thumb of Abe’s admin­is­tra­tion, com­pro­mis­ing the integri­ty of Japan’s largest and (arguably) most pres­ti­gious news out­let.

“News Giant in Japan Seen Com­pro­mised” by Mar­tin Fack­ler; The New York Times; 2/3/2014.

First, there was the abrupt res­ig­na­tion of the pub­lic broad­cast­ing chief accused by gov­ern­ing par­ty politi­cians of allow­ing an over­ly lib­er­al tone to news cov­er­age. Then, his suc­ces­sor drew pub­lic ire when he sug­gest­ed the net­work would loy­al­ly toe the gov­ern­ment line.

Days lat­er, on Thurs­day, a long­time com­men­ta­tor for the net­work angri­ly announced that he had resigned after being ordered not to crit­i­cize nuclear pow­er ahead of a cru­cial elec­tion, unleash­ing new crit­i­cism.

These are hard times for the broad­cast­er, NHK, which is wide­ly con­sid­ered the country’s most author­i­ta­tive tele­vi­sion and radio news source and like its British equiv­a­lent, the BBC, has been trou­bled by scan­dal. . .

. . . . The prime min­is­ter is already press­ing for more patri­ot­ic text­books and has pushed through a secre­cy law that will allow Japan’s noto­ri­ous­ly opaque gov­ern­ment to hide more of what it does. The actions come as Japan is mired in an emo­tion­al tug of war with Chi­na and South Korea over their fraught wartime his­to­ry and recent, poten­tial­ly explo­sive, ter­ri­to­ry dis­putes.

“What I am wor­ried about is that NHK will become loy­al­ist media, become the pub­lic rela­tions depart­ment of the gov­ern­ment,” an oppo­si­tion law­mak­er, Kazuhi­ro Haraguchi, said in unusu­al­ly harsh crit­i­cism in Par­lia­ment on Fri­day. NHK is “part of the infra­struc­ture that forms the basis of our democ­ra­cy.”

The law­mak­er made the state­ments as a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee sum­moned Kat­su­to Momii, the new pres­i­dent of the broad­cast­er, to explain remarks at a recent news con­fer­ence, includ­ing his dec­la­ra­tion that over­seas broad­casts would present the government’s views on for­eign pol­i­cy with­out crit­i­cism.

“We can­not say left when the gov­ern­ment says right,” he said when asked whether NHK would present Japan’s posi­tion on ter­ri­to­r­i­al and oth­er dis­putes. He explained that it was “only nat­ur­al” for the net­work to fol­low the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment posi­tion.

He also said it should refrain from crit­i­ciz­ing the secre­cy law as well as Mr. Abe’s vis­it in Decem­ber to a Tokyo war shrine, which angered Chi­na and South Korea.

The com­ments seemed to run counter to the stat­ed mis­sion of the broad­cast­er, which is fund­ed by fees col­lect­ed from every­one who owns a tele­vi­sion set, to report the news “with­out dis­tor­tion or par­ti­san­ship.”

While it is nom­i­nal­ly inde­pen­dent, the broadcaster’s 12-mem­ber gov­ern­ing board is appoint­ed by Par­lia­ment, which also approves its bud­get. The board, which includes four Abe appointees, choos­es the pres­i­dent of the net­work.

The blunt­ness of the ques­tion­ing in Par­lia­ment reflect­ed the deep sus­pi­cion shared by many in the oppo­si­tion that Mr. Abe’s gov­ern­ing Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is stock­ing the gov­ern­ing board with peo­ple ready to sti­fle crit­i­cism of his con­ser­v­a­tive government’s agen­da, includ­ing play­ing down Japan’s wartime atroc­i­ties. . . .

. . . .The lat­est accu­sa­tions of polit­i­cal inter­fer­ence have also become a headache for the Abe gov­ern­ment, which has already seen its high approval rat­ings slide after pas­sage in Decem­ber of the secre­cy law. Many Japan­ese jour­nal­ists saw the law as a way of intim­i­dat­ing would-be gov­ern­ment whis­tle-blow­ers from speak­ing with reporters, fur­ther ham­per­ing the inde­pen­dence of Japan­ese news media already crit­i­cized for being over­ly cozy with author­i­ty.

“This is gross polit­i­cal inter­fer­ence,” said Yasushi Kawasa­ki, a for­mer NHK polit­i­cal reporter who teach­es jour­nal­ism at Sugiya­ma Jogakuen Uni­ver­si­ty near Nagoya. “The Abe gov­ern­ment has stocked NHK’s board of gov­er­nors with friend­ly faces in order to neuter its cov­er­age.”

The top gov­ern­ment spokesman, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga, has denied that the appoint­ments were polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed, but said the prime min­is­ter chose peo­ple whom he knows and trusts. . . .

 4a. Con­tro­ver­sial com­ments are strain­ing rela­tions with the Unit­ed States. Asser­tions by Abe allies include asser­tions that U.S. war crimes tri­bunals after the con­flict were intend­ed to obfus­cate Amer­i­can war crimes and the remark­able claim that U.S. troops used slave pros­ti­tutes sim­i­lar to the Japan­ese “com­fort women.”

“Nation­al­is­tic Remarks from Japan Lead to Warn­ings of Chill with U.S.” by Mar­tin Fack­ler; The New York Times; 2/20/2014.

A series of defi­ant­ly nation­al­is­tic com­ments, includ­ing remarks crit­i­cal of the Unit­ed States, by close polit­i­cal asso­ciates of Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe has led ana­lysts to warn of a grow­ing chill between his right-wing gov­ern­ment and the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, which views Japan as a linch­pin of its strate­gic piv­ot to Asia.

Rebut­tals from the Amer­i­can Embassy in Japan have added to con­cerns of a falling-out between Japan and the Unit­ed States, which has so far wel­comed Mr. Abe’s efforts to strength­en Japan’s econ­o­my and mil­i­tary out­reach in the region to serve as a coun­ter­bal­ance to Chi­na. The com­ments, which express revi­sion­ist views of Japan’s World War II his­to­ry, have also led to renewed claims from Japan’s neigh­bors, par­tic­u­lar­ly Chi­na and South Korea, that Mr. Abe is lead­ing his nation to the right, try­ing to stir up patri­o­tism and gloss over the country’s wartime his­to­ry. . . .

. . . . One of the most provoca­tive com­ments from Abe allies came this month, when an ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive nov­el­ist, Nao­ki Hyaku­ta, who was appoint­ed by the prime min­is­ter him­self to the gov­ern­ing board of pub­lic broad­cast­er NHKsaid in a speech that the Tokyo war tri­bunal after World War II was a means to cov­er up the “geno­cide” of Amer­i­can air raids on Tokyo and the atom­ic bomb­ings of Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki. The Unit­ed States Embassy called the com­ments “pre­pos­ter­ous.”

. . . . Mr. Hyakuta’s com­ments came days after the new pres­i­dent of NHK, who was cho­sen last month by a gov­ern­ing board includ­ing Abe appointees, raised eye­brows in Wash­ing­ton by say­ing that Japan should not be sin­gled out for forc­ing women to pro­vide sex to Japan­ese sol­diers dur­ing the war, say­ing the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary did the same. Most his­to­ri­ans say the Japan­ese sys­tem of cre­at­ing spe­cial broth­els for the troops, then forc­ing tens of thou­sands of women from oth­er coun­tries to work there, was dif­fer­ent from the prac­tice by oth­er coun­tries’ troops in occu­pied areas who fre­quent­ed local broth­els. . . .

4b. One of Abe’s cab­i­net min­is­ters has praised the Japan­ese Kamikaze pilots:

“As Ten­sions Rise, Paci­fist Japan March­es Into a Mil­i­tary Revival” by Yuka Hayashi; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 7/18/2013.

Masahisa Sato stood in a ball­room under a giant Japan­ese flag, read­ing to the after-work crowd from a let­ter a World War II kamikaze pilot sent his young daugh­ter.

“Don’t see your­self as a father­less child. I will always be look­ing out for your safe­ty,” Mr. Sato quot­ed the pilot as writ­ing before he flew his plane into a U.S. ship off the Philip­pines in 1944, with his daugh­ter’s favorite doll in the cock­pit.
As the audi­ence fell silent, Mr. Sato declared, his voice hoarse: “We have peo­ple we want to pro­tect. We must have the resolve to hand this nation to the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Mr. Sato is no fringe mil­i­taris­tic crank. He is a top defense advis­er to Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe and a mem­ber of Japan’s par­lia­ment run­ning for re-elec­tion on Sun­day. . . .
5b. The Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush admin­is­tra­tions vio­lat­ed U.S. law by deliv­er­ing tons of weapons grade plu­to­ni­um to Japan.

The Unit­ed States delib­er­ate­ly allowed Japan access to the Unit­ed States’ most secret nuclear weapons facil­i­ties while it trans­ferred tens of bil­lions of dol­lars worth of Amer­i­can tax paid research that has allowed Japan to amass 70 tons of weapons grade plu­to­ni­um since the 1980s, a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty News Ser­vice inves­ti­ga­tion reveals. These activ­i­ties repeat­ed­ly vio­lat­ed U.S. laws regard­ing con­trols of sen­si­tive nuclear mate­ri­als that could be divert­ed to weapons pro­grams in Japan. The NSNS inves­ti­ga­tion found that the Unit­ed States has known about a secret nuclear weapons pro­gram in Japan since the 1960s, accord­ing to CIA reports.

The diver­sion of U.S. clas­si­fied tech­nol­o­gy began dur­ing the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion after it allowed a $10 bil­lion reac­tor sale to Chi­na. Japan protest­ed that sen­si­tive tech­nol­o­gy was being sold to a poten­tial nuclear adver­sary. The Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush admin­is­tra­tions per­mit­ted sen­si­tive tech­nol­o­gy and nuclear mate­ri­als to be trans­ferred to Japan despite laws and treaties pre­vent­ing such trans­fers. High­ly sen­si­tive tech­nol­o­gy on plu­to­ni­um sep­a­ra­tion from the U.S. Depart­ment of Energy’s Savan­nah Riv­er Site and Han­ford nuclear weapons com­plex, as well as tens of bil­lions of dol­lars worth of breed­er reac­tor research was turned over to Japan with almost no safe­guards against pro­lif­er­a­tion. Japan­ese sci­en­tist and tech­ni­cians were giv­en access to both Han­ford and Savan­nah Riv­er as part of the trans­fer process.

While Japan has refrained from deploy­ing nuclear weapons and remains under an umbrel­la of U.S. nuclear pro­tec­tion, NSNS has learned that the coun­try has used its elec­tri­cal util­i­ty com­pa­nies as a cov­er to allow the coun­try to amass enough nuclear weapons mate­ri­als to build a nuclear arse­nal larg­er than Chi­na, India and Pak­istan com­bined. . . .

. . . That secret effort was hid­den in a nuclear pow­er pro­gram that by March 11, 2011– the day the earth­quake and tsuna­mi over­whelmed the Fukushi­ma Dai­ichi Nuclear Plant – had amassed 70 met­ric tons of plu­to­ni­um. Like its use of civil­ian nuclear pow­er to hide a secret bomb pro­gram, Japan used peace­ful space explo­ration as a cov­er for devel­op­ing sophis­ti­cat­ed nuclear weapons deliv­ery sys­tems.

Polit­i­cal lead­ers in Japan under­stood that the only way the Japan­ese peo­ple could be con­vinced to allow nuclear pow­er into their lives was if a long line of gov­ern­ments and indus­try hid any mil­i­tary appli­ca­tion. For that rea­son, a suc­ces­sion of Japan­ese gov­ern­ments col­lud­ed on a bomb pro­gram dis­guised as inno­cent ener­gy and civ­il space pro­grams. . . .

5c. Abe is turn­ing back the Japan­ese his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal clock. Japan­ese gov­ern­ment offi­cials are open­ly sanc­tion­ing anti-Kore­an racism and net­work­ing with orga­ni­za­tions that pro­mote that doc­trine. Sev­er­al mem­bers of Abe’s gov­ern­ment net­work with Japan­ese neo-Nazis, some of whom advo­cate using the Nazi method for seiz­ing pow­er in Japan. Is Abe’s gov­ern­ment doing just that?

As Japan’s prime min­is­ter address­es the Unit­ed Nations on Fri­day his rep­u­ta­tion at home is taint­ed by links to avowed racists.

Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe will be speak­ing to the Unit­ed Nations this Fri­day, but he may not be very wel­come. In late July, the Unit­ed Nations’ Com­mit­tee on the Elim­i­na­tion of Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion urged Japan to crack down on the grow­ing cas­es of “hate speech” tar­get­ing for­eign res­i­dents. The U.N. com­mit­tee urged Prime Min­is­ter Abe’s admin­is­tra­tion to “firm­ly address man­i­fes­ta­tions of hate and racism as well as incite­ment to racist vio­lence and hatred dur­ing ral­lies,” and cre­ate laws to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

Recent events make it appear that the prime min­is­ter and his cab­i­net are not pay­ing atten­tion; sev­eral mem­bers of the cab­i­net not only appear obliv­i­ous to racism and hate speech issues, they asso­ciate with those who pro­mote them.

Last week pho­tographs of Japan’s new­ly appoint­ed Nation­al Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mis­sioner social­iz­ing with mem­bers of the country’s most vir­u­lent racist group, Zaitokukai, were brought to light in an expose by Japan’s lead­ing week­ly mag­a­zine, Shukan Bun­shun. In U.S. terms, it would be the equiv­a­lent of the attor­ney gen­eral get­ting caught chum­ming around with a Grand Drag­on of the Ku Klux Klan. This week it was report­ed that anoth­er cab­i­net mem­ber received dona­tions from them, and that Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe him­self may have ties to the staunch­ly anti-Kore­an orga­ni­za­tion.

All of this isn’t good for Japan and Korea rela­tions, since much of the racism is direct­ed at peo­ple of Kore­an descent, nor is it good for U.S.-Japan rela­tions. In Feb­ru­ary, the U.S. State Depart­ment in its annu­al report on human rights, crit­i­cized the hate speech towards Kore­an res­i­dents in Japan, specif­i­cally nam­ing the Zaitokukai. The group is well known for its anti-social actions, but The Dai­ly Beast has learned that it also has had ties to Japan’s mafia—including the Sumiyoshi-kai, which is black­listed by the Unit­ed States.

The lat­est news of links between the Japan­ese rul­ing coali­tion and unsa­vory char­ac­ters comes just after anoth­er scan­dal involv­ing neo-nazi links to two oth­er cab­i­net mem­bers made head­lines world­wide.

The stan­dard line of defense offered by the cab­i­net mem­bers embroiled in con­tro­versy over their con­nec­tions to racist groups, “We just hap­pened to get pho­tographed with these peo­ple. We don’t know who they are,” is get­ting hard­er to swal­low. And it has raised some dis­turb­ing issues.

The U.N. and the U.S. State Depart­ment can cer­tainly urge Japan to deal with the prob­lem but as long as hate crime pays polit­i­cally and to some extent mon­e­tar­ily and the admin­is­tra­tion seems to con­done ultra-nation­al­ist racist groups this is unlike­ly to hap­pen. The scold­ing that the U.N. gave Japan seems more and more pre­scient as links between the cab­i­net and big­oted ultra-nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions keep com­ing to light.

...

The Zaitokukai, found­ed in 2006, has a name best trans­lated as “Cit­i­zens Against the Spe­cial Priv­i­leges of Eth­nic Kore­ans.” They are an ultra-nation­al­ist, right-wing group that argues for the elim­i­na­tion of priv­i­leges extend­ed to for­eign­ers who had been grant­ed Spe­cial For­eign Res­i­dent status—mostly Kore­an-Japan­ese.

The Zaitokukai also col­lect a lot of mon­ey in dona­tions from like-mind­ed cit­i­zens.

The group, which is led by Mako­to Saku­rai, whose real name is Mako­to Taka­da, claims that eth­nic Kore­ans abuse the social and wel­fare sys­tem in Japan. Zaitokukai claims to have over 14,000 mem­bers. It orga­nizes protests and demon­stra­tions across Japan, even in front of Kore­an ele­men­tary schools, yelling such slo­gans as “Go back to Korea,” “You’re the chil­dren of spies”—making numer­ous veiled and overt threats. The group asserts that all for­eign­ers are crim­i­nals who should be chased out of Japan, espe­cially the Kore­ans.

In a recent book, Saku­rai states, “The Japan­ese under­stand what the Kore­ans are up to. If you think about it, there’s no way we can get along with these peo­ple. Even though Japan­ese peo­ple don’t do any­thing, Kore­ans just cause one inci­dent (crime) after anoth­er. Every time a Kore­an com­mits anoth­er crime, our sup­port goes up.”

And when sup­port goes up, so do the earn­ings of the Zaitokukai—earnings that are poor­ly account­ed for and go untaxed. It’s a great rack­et and it’s com­pletely legal.

How­ever, the group does have asso­ci­a­tions with the Japan­ese mafia, aka the yakuza, and those may not be legal. They are very close­ly tied to the polit­i­cal arm of the Sumiyoshikai, known as Nihon­sein­sha..

Eriko Yamatani, as chair­man of the Nation­al Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mis­sion, over­sees Japan’s police forces. It makes her asso­ci­a­tion with Zaitokukai and their crim­i­nally inclined mem­bers high­ly prob­lem­atic. One pic­ture that dates back to 2009 shows Yamatani stand­ing next to Yasuhiko Ara­maki, who was arrest­ed a year lat­er for ter­ror­iz­ing a Kore­an ele­men­tary school in Kyoto, found guilty and then lat­er arrest­ed again in 2012 on charges of intim­i­da­tion..

Anoth­er of the peo­ple pho­tographed with Yamatani is Shi­geo Masu­ki, a for­mer Zaitokukai leader. Masu­ki was arrest­ed at least three times after the pho­to­graph was shot, once for threat­en­ing an ele­men­tary school prin­ci­pal and lat­er for insur­ance fraud. Yamatani ini­tially denied that she knew of the Zaitokukai affil­i­a­tion of the peo­ple in the pic­tures. This is slight­ly strange since she has report­edly been friends with Masu­ki and his wife for over a decade. When reply­ing to ques­tions from TBS radio about the recent scan­dal, she explained the Zaitokukai exact­ly in the ter­mi­nol­ogy of a true believ­er, inad­ver­tently using the words “Zainichi Tokken (Spe­cial rights of the Kore­an Res­i­dents In Japan)” her­self. At a press con­fer­ence held today (Sep­tem­ber 25th), she was ques­tioned about her use of the term and stat­ed uncom­fort­ably, “In my reply (to TBS) I might have just copy and past­ed from the Zaitokukai home­page.” She refused to crit­i­cize the group by name or clar­ify whether she believed that eth­nic Kore­ans had spe­cial priv­i­leges.

Yamatani, in her cur­rent posi­tion, over­sees the Nation­al Police Agency—the very same agency that not­ed in its 2013 white paper that the Zaitokukai were com­mit­ting hate speech, pro­mot­ing racism, and posed a threat to the social order. If hate-speech becomes a crime, she may be in charge of over­see­ing the police that enforce the law.

She isn’t the only one close to the Zaitokukai in the cur­rent cab­i­net. Accord­ing to the mag­a­zine Sun­day Mainichi, Ms. Tomo­mi Ina­da, Min­is­ter Of The “Cool Japan” Strat­egy, also received dona­tions from Masa­ki and oth­er Zaitokukai asso­ciates.

Appar­ently, racism is cool in Japan.

Ina­da made news ear­lier this month after pho­tos cir­cu­lated of her and anoth­er female in the new cab­i­net pos­ing with a neo-Nazi par­ty leader. Both denied know­ing the neo-Nazi well but lat­er were revealed to have con­tributed blurbs for an adver­tise­ment prais­ing the out-of-print book Hitler’s Elec­tion Strategy. Coin­ci­den­tally, Vice-Prime Minister,Taro Aso, is also a long-time admir­er of Nazi polit­i­cal strat­egy, and has sug­gested Japan fol­low the Nazi Par­ty tem­plate to sneak con­sti­tu­tional change past the pub­lic.

Even Japan’s Prime Min­is­ter Abe has been pho­tographed with mem­bers of Zaitokukai. Masu­ki, who snapped a pho­to with Abe on August 17h 2009, while he was still a mem­ber of the group, bragged that Abe kind­ly remem­bered him.”

As of pub­li­ca­tion date, the admin­is­tra­tion hasn’t explained the rela­tion­ship between the two and a home page fea­tur­ing a pho­to of Abe and Masu­ki has been tak­en down.

...

Since Sep­tem­ber 3, it seems that every day yields new infor­ma­tion link­ing an Abe cab­i­net mem­ber with a racist or neo-nazi group. While the ties to racist groups and the cab­i­net mem­bers seem prob­lem­atic, there are signs of hope…sort of.

In August, Japan’s rul­ing par­ty, which put Abe into pow­er orga­nized a work­ing group to dis­cuss laws that would restrict hate-crimealthough the new laws will prob­a­bly also be used to clamp down on anti-nuclear protests out­side the Diet build­ing.

Of course, it is a lit­tle wor­ri­some that Sanae Takaichi, who was sup­posed to over­see the project, is the oth­er female min­is­ter who was pho­tographed with a neo-Nazi leader and is a fan of Hitler.

Maybe the Abe admin­is­tra­tion is sin­cere about deal­ing with hate crimes and just unlucky to have so many cab­i­net mem­bers being pho­tographed and get­ting dona­tions from the wrong peo­ple.

Sad­ly, Japan is in the mid­dle of a huge racist boom. Anti-Kore­an books, mag­a­zines, and com­ic books are sell­ing like wild­fire. The anti-Kore­an dia­tribe Bokan­ron (The Impu­dent Korea Argu­ment), a book released on Decem­ber 5 last year, became the top sell­ing book on Ama­zon with­in a week and sold 270,000 copies by the end of March. An assis­tant edi­tor at a week­ly mag­a­zine told The Dai­ly Beast, “If you have an arti­cle ridi­cul­ing Korea or Kore­ans on the cov­er, the issue sells. That’s the cli­mate we’re in.”

How­ever, Japan is def­i­nitely in a pre­car­i­ous time. What was once taboo has become social­ly accept­able and the prime min­is­ter remains silent, hop­ing to avoid alien­at­ing his polit­i­cal base and let the fires of polit­i­cal nation­al­ism con­tinue to smol­der.

6. More about Finance Min­is­ter and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Taro Abe’s Nazi views:

“Japan­ese Deputy Prime Min­is­ter’s Nazi Remarks Cause Furor” by Jethro Mullen; CNN; 8/2/2013.

Japan’s deputy prime min­is­ter stirred con­tro­ver­sy this week by appear­ing to sug­gest that the gov­ern­ment could learn from the way that Nazi Ger­many changed its con­sti­tu­tion.

The remarks by Taro Aso, who is also the Japan­ese finance min­is­ter, pro­voked crit­i­cism from Japan’s neigh­bors and a Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tion in the Unit­ed States.

Aso, a for­mer prime min­is­ter who has slipped up with ver­bal gaffes in the past, retract­ed the com­ments lat­er in the week but refused to apol­o­gize for them or resign, say­ing they had been tak­en out of con­text.

Amid per­sis­tent talk in Japan about revis­ing the coun­try’s paci­fist post-war con­sti­tu­tion, Aso set off the con­tro­ver­sy at a sem­i­nar Mon­day, in which he said that dis­cus­sions over con­sti­tu­tion­al changes should be car­ried out calm­ly.

“Ger­many’s Weimar Con­sti­tu­tion was changed into the Nazi Con­sti­tu­tion before any­one knew,” he said in com­ments wide­ly report­ed by the Japan­ese media. “It was changed before any­one else noticed. Why don’t we learn from that method?” . . . .

. . . . Aso’s appar­ent ref­er­ence to those changes drew expres­sions of con­cern from the gov­ern­ments of Chi­na and South Korea, two coun­tries that suf­fered heav­i­ly under Japan­ese impe­r­i­al aggres­sion dur­ing World War II, a con­flict in which Japan was allied with Nazi Ger­many. . . .

7. Abe cab­i­net min­is­ters Tomo­mi Ina­da and Sanae Takaichi wrote pro­mo­tion­al blurbs for a book writ­ten by a Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty politi­cian that for­mal­ly artic­u­lates the strat­e­gy endorsed by Taro Aso.

“Japan­ese Book Prais­es Hitler for His Elec­toral Tech­niques” by Andrew Pol­lack; The New York Times; 6/8/1994.

An offi­cial of the Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty urges in a new book that his par­ty try to regain pow­er by adopt­ing a new role mod­el: Hitler.

The book, “Hitler Elec­tion Strat­e­gy: A Bible for Cer­tain Vic­to­ry in Mod­ern Elec­tions,” says the Nazi lead­er’s process for “uni­fy­ing pub­lic opin­ion in a short peri­od of time and snatch­ing pow­er” pro­vides “very impor­tant teach­ings.”

The author, Yoshio Ogai, is a pub­lic rela­tions offi­cial in the Tokyo chap­ter of the Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, Japan’s largest, which con­trolled the Gov­ern­ment for near­ly four decades until being oust­ed last sum­mer. Just Per­son­al Advice

In an inter­view today, Mr. Ogai said the book did not state an offi­cial par­ty posi­tion, mere­ly his per­son­al advice to can­di­dates in these “chaot­ic” times that they could learn some tac­tics from Hitler. He said, how­ev­er, that he had cleared the book before­hand with the sec­re­tary gen­er­al of the Tokyo branch.

Discussion

8 comments for “FTR #813 Return of the Rising Sun, Part 3”

  1. The US/Japanese defense part­ner­ship is going glob­al:

    Bloomberg
    Japan, U.S. Lay Out Plans for Glob­al Defense Part­ner­ship
    By Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Taka­hashi Oct 8, 2014 10:01 AM CT

    Japan is set to remove geo­graph­i­cal lim­its on its defense part­ner­ship with the U.S. as the coun­tries seek to bol­ster secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion amid China’s mil­i­tary assertive­ness.

    New guide­lines on U.S.-Japan defense coop­er­a­tion should empha­size the glob­al nature of the alliance and coor­di­na­tion with oth­er region­al part­ners, accord­ing to an inter­im report on a review of the guide­lines released yes­ter­day by Japan’s Min­istry of Defense. The report doesn’t men­tion “sit­u­a­tions in areas sur­round­ing Japan,” the scope of geo­graph­i­cal coop­er­a­tion includ­ed in the cur­rent guide­lines, which were issued in 1997.

    Faced with a ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­pute with Chi­na in the East Chi­na Sea, Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe has pushed through a series of mea­sures to tough­en Japan’s defense stance since tak­ing office in 2012. He is seek­ing to increase the defense bud­get for a third year after more than a decade of cuts, and in July his cab­i­net rein­ter­pret­ed the paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion to allow Japan to defend oth­er coun­tries.

    ...

    ‘Sig­nif­i­cant’ Report

    Japan­ese Defense Min­is­ter Aki­nori Eto told reporters yes­ter­day the inter­im report was sig­nif­i­cant “in terms of ensur­ing trans­paren­cy and encour­ag­ing under­stand­ing at home and abroad.”

    U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma in April said the U.S. would pro­tect islands in the East Chi­na Sea that are admin­is­tered by Japan and claimed by Chi­na. Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said Chi­na would fol­low the review close­ly.

    “The Japan‑U.S. alliance is a spe­cif­ic bilat­er­al rela­tion­ship under spe­cif­ic con­di­tions and it should not go beyond bilat­er­al ties,” Hong said. “It should not dam­age the inter­ests of third par­ties, includ­ing Chi­na.”

    The removal of geo­graph­i­cal restric­tions on the alliance comes after Abe’s assur­ances that Japan’s forces will nev­er take part in a con­flict com­pa­ra­ble to the Gulf War. Japan has pledged aid in response to Islam­ic State’s cap­ture of areas in Iraq and Syr­ia, while say­ing it will not take part in bomb­ing cam­paigns in the Mid­dle East.

    The­o­ret­i­cal Free­dom

    Japan and the U.S. will set up a frame­work to coor­di­nate their alliance, accord­ing to the report. They will seek coop­er­a­tion both in peace­time and emer­gen­cies on marine secu­ri­ty, the pro­tec­tion of assets and mis­sile defense, the report said.

    The the­o­ret­i­cal free­dom to act any­where in the world and respond to attacks on oth­er coun­tries could make the oper­a­tional and polit­i­cal stakes “quite high” for the allies, said James Schoff, a senior asso­ciate at the Carnegie Endow­ment for Inter­na­tion­al Peace in Wash­ing­ton.

    “The pre­ferred Amer­i­can posi­tion is: let’s put as few con­straints as pos­si­ble, because you nev­er know,” Schoff said. “There’s noth­ing in the guide­lines that says you have to.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 8, 2014, 6:17 pm
  2. Fol­low­ing his blow out win, Shin­zo Abe is once again pledg­ing to rewrite Japan’s con­sti­tu­tion. WWII his­to­ry is also slat­ed for a rewrite:

    The Japan Times
    With elec­tion win under his belt, Abe pledges Con­sti­tu­tion rewrite
    by Shin­go Ito

    AFP-JIJI

    Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe on Mon­day vowed he would try to per­suade a skep­ti­cal pub­lic of the need to revise Japan’s paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion, the day after his rul­ing bloc scored a strong elec­tion vic­to­ry.

    Abe, who was re-elect­ed to the Low­er House in Sunday’s poll and whose Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty scored a strong win, pledged to pur­sue his nation­al­ist agen­da while promis­ing to fol­low through on much-need­ed eco­nom­ic reforms.

    “Revis­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion … has always been an objec­tive since the Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty was launched,” Abe told reporters.

    “I will work hard to deep­en people’s under­stand­ing and receive wider sup­port from the pub­lic.”

    Abe’s desire to water down the Con­sti­tu­tion, imposed by the U.S. after the end of World War II, has proved divi­sive at home and strained already tense rela­tions with Chi­na.

    His attempt ear­li­er this year was aban­doned, with the bar of a two-thirds par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty and vic­to­ry in a ref­er­en­dum thought too high.

    The con­ser­v­a­tive leader has also said he wants reforms to edu­ca­tion that would fos­ter patri­o­tism in school­child­ren and urges a more sym­pa­thet­ic retelling of Japan’s wartime mis­deeds.

    His rul­ing LDP and its junior part­ner, Komeito, swept the bal­lot on Sun­day with a two-thirds major­i­ty in the Low­er House.

    The coali­tion won a com­bined 326 of the 475 seats, crush­ing the main oppo­si­tion force, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Japan. The DPJ’s slight­ly improved tal­ly of 73 did not include leader Ban­ri Kaie­da, who fell on his sword on Mon­day.

    Abe is expect­ed to reap­point a broad­ly sim­i­lar Cab­i­net after he is for­mal­ly named prime min­is­ter again by the Low­er House on Dec. 24.

    ...

    Rela­tions began to thaw last month after more than two years of chill, which Bei­jing blamed on Abe’s provoca­tive nation­al­ism, includ­ing a vis­it to a war shrine and equiv­o­ca­tions on Japan’s wartime record of enslav­ing women for sex.

    Bei­jing said it had “not­ed” the out­come of the elec­tion, and offered a famil­iar call for Japan to “learn its lessons from his­to­ry (and) play a con­struc­tive role in region­al peace and sta­bil­i­ty”.

    “In the short-term, at least, Sino-Japan­ese rela­tions are on a bet­ter track … sig­nals com­ing from Bei­jing and from Abe (are aimed at try­ing) to improve the rela­tion­ship,” Cur­tis said.

    Masaru Kohno, a pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor at Wase­da Uni­ver­si­ty in Tokyo, said despite his pro­fessed desire to retell the his­to­ry of Japan’s aggres­sive war­ring — an instinct large­ly unshared by the Japan­ese pub­lic — Abe will be prag­mat­ic.

    “Many of the issues Japan is fac­ing, such as depop­u­la­tion and women’s advancement,should be resolved with lib­er­al poli­cies,” he said.

    “Abe is expect­ed to reap­point a broad­ly sim­i­lar Cab­i­net after he is for­mal­ly named prime min­is­ter again by the Low­er House on Dec. 24.” Ummm...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 18, 2014, 9:13 pm
  3. Is ISIS’s hostage-tak­ing going to be the final cat­a­lyst for Japan’s shed­ding of its paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion? It’s pos­si­ble:

    The Dai­ly Beast
    ISIS Piss­es Off Paci­fist Japan by Tak­ing Hostages
    Tokyo is unlike­ly to pay a $200 mil­lion ran­som to free two hostages. If they die, the country’s anti-war con­sti­tu­tion may go with them.

    Jake Adel­stein
    01.20.15

    TOKYO — Last week, Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe pledged $200 mil­lion in non-mil­i­tary assis­tance to sup­port coun­tries affect­ed by the cam­paign against ISIS dur­ing an ongo­ing six-day Mid­dle East tour. Today (Jan­u­ary 20th Japan time), The Islam­ic State released a video threat­en­ing to kill two Japan­ese hostages unless they receive a $200 mil­lion ran­som in the next 72 hours.

    The hawk­ish prime min­is­ter and his cab­i­net who have moved for­ward to remil­i­ta­rize Japan under the guise of “col­lec­tive self defense” are now in the dif­fi­cult posi­tion of whether to nego­ti­ate with ter­ror­ists or to let two Japan­ese cit­i­zens be killed. Nei­ther deci­sion will have a hap­py out­come.

    ...

    Accord­ing to Japan’s FNN News, the fam­i­ly of Goto was con­tact­ed ear­ly last Novem­ber and asked to pay the equiv­a­lent of ten mil­lion dol­lars in ran­som mon­ey. Report­ed­ly, the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment linked the kid­nap­pers to the men who behead­ed Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist James Foley. His death gal­va­nized the Amer­i­can pub­lic and spurred Pres­i­dent Oba­ma to expand the war against ISIS.

    Abe, speak­ing to reporters Tues­day, vowed to res­cue the men say­ing, “Our top pri­or­i­ty is sav­ing their lives.” While pub­licly stat­ing that they would do every­thing to save the lives of the men, accord­ing to a senior Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty offi­cial speak­ing on back­ground, the admin­is­tra­tion is already get­ting ready for the worst .

    The offi­cial not­ed Abe will not nego­ti­ate with the ter­ror­ists and the most like­ly out­come is that the two men will be killed. The Japan­ese pub­lic reac­tion will be neg­a­tive but the costs of pay­ing would be far more dam­ag­ing, he added.

    Yukawa was report­ed­ly kid­napped last August after going to Syr­ia to train with mil­i­tants. Goto is a vet­er­an reporter on Mid­dle East affairs who has report­ed­ly been miss­ing since Octo­ber of last year.

    The ques­tion for Prime Min­is­ter Abe is he will­ing to spend $200 mil­lion dol­lars to save two lives at the cost of los­ing face and his cred­i­bil­i­ty as a hawk. The answer for the moment appears to be, no.

    While on the sur­face Abe appears to be dis­tressed about the sit­u­a­tion, the acts of ter­ror­ism by ISIS towards Japan may give impe­tus to him and the rul­ing coali­tion to rein­ter­pret the con­sti­tu­tion to allow Japan to join its allies in over­seas wars

    Arti­cle 9 of the Japan­ese con­sti­tu­tion, draft­ed by Amer­i­can offi­cials dur­ing the occu­pa­tion fol­low­ing World War II, renounces war as a sov­er­eign right of the Japan­ese nation and for­bids the threat or use of force as a means of set­tling inter­na­tion­al dis­putes. Japan has main­tained a “defense-only ” pol­i­cy for decades. How­ev­er, the Abe cab­i­net using the term “col­lec­tive self-defense” issued a deci­sion last year offi­cial­ly rein­ter­pret­ing the con­sti­tu­tion to allow Japan to par­tic­i­pate in war if Japan’s allies are attacked, among oth­er con­di­tions.

    In his press con­fer­ence on the hostage cri­sis Abe was sure to say, “There are three con­di­tions for exer­cis­ing self defense. In any event, Japan needs to get its secu­ri­ty laws in order to ensure smooth and unpunc­tu­at­ed counter mea­sures,” mak­ing anoth­er appeal to scrap Japan’s paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion and cre­ate a stand­ing Army.

    ...

    The grue­some death of two Japan­ese nation­als because Japan won’t pay ran­som mon­ey may cause a dip Abe’s pop­u­lar­i­ty but bol­ster his agen­da to re-mil­i­ta­rize the nation.

    While it’s nice that Japan will prob­a­by be more Godzil­la-proof should it end up expand­ing its mil­i­tary spend­ing spree, the larg­er con­text of this his­toric shift for Japan, a nation with a fair­ly recent his­toric of extreme mil­i­tary aggres­sion, is still quite dis­turb­ing. Yes, the ISIS threats are dis­turb­ing because, well, pret­ty much every­thing ISIS does is dis­turb­ing. But that’s not the only dis­turb­ing con­text in this sit­u­a­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 20, 2015, 7:01 pm
  4. One of Shin­zo Abe’s advis­ers has a sug­ges­tion for how Japan can sta­bi­lize its falling pop­u­la­tion with­out requir­ing its peo­ple to min­gle with all these icky for­eign­ers: Bring in the for­eign­ers and sep­a­rate them by race:

    Independent.it
    Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter urged to embrace apartheid for for­eign work­ers
    David McNeill

    Pub­lished 13/02/2015 | 20:26

    An advis­er on edu­ca­tion poli­cies to Japan’s gov­ern­ment has sparked a pub­lic out­cry by rec­om­mend­ing that immi­grants in the world’s third-largest econ­o­my be sep­a­rat­ed by race.

    In a news­pa­per col­umn Ayako Sono said apartheid-era South Africa showed that whites, Asians and blacks should live apart.

    “Black peo­ple fun­da­men­tal­ly have a phi­los­o­phy of large fam­i­lies,” she wrote.

    “For whites and Asians, it was com­mon sense for a cou­ple and two chil­dren to live in one com­plex. But blacks end­ed up hav­ing 20 to 30 fam­i­ly mem­bers liv­ing in a sin­gle unit.”

    Ms Sono is a best-sell­ing con­ser­v­a­tive author and a vocal sup­port­er of Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe’s efforts to revive patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion.

    Mr Abe appoint­ed her to a pan­el on edu­ca­tion­al reform in 2013 but the gov­ern­ment says she has since quit.

    In her col­umn, Ms Sono said Japan’s chron­ic labour short­age was forc­ing the coun­try to con­sid­er more immi­grants, but added that after study­ing the sit­u­a­tion in South Africa “for 30–40 years” such poli­cies would only work if the coun­try seg­re­gat­ed races.

    “It is next to impos­si­ble to attain an under­stand­ing of for­eign­ers by liv­ing along­side them,” she said.

    She said black Africans had ruined areas pre­vi­ous­ly reserved for whites in the coun­try and they would do the same thing to Japan if allowed to do so.

    In 2000, Ms Sono earned inter­na­tion­al noto­ri­ety when she allowed Peru’s fugi­tive pres­i­dent, Alber­to Fuji­mori, to stay in her Tokyo house. Mr Fuji­mori sub­se­quent­ly returned to Peru and was con­vict­ed of crimes against human­i­ty in 2008.

    Her col­umn, writ­ten on Japan’s Nation­al Foun­da­tion Day, tra­di­tion­al­ly a hol­i­day for express­ing patri­o­tism, sparked out­rage, with online com­men­ta­tors brand­ing it “dis­gust­ing” and “appalling”.

    “So while the rest of the civilised world was con­demn­ing apartheid, Sono decid­ed that she rather liked it, and now wants to bring it back,” wrote a blog­ger on the Japan Times web­site.

    Japan’s gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing allow­ing 200,000 for­eign­ers a year to enter the coun­try to head off a grow­ing demo­graph­ic cri­sis.

    The country’s pop­u­la­tion is aging and declin­ing, falling by near­ly a quar­ter of a mil­lion in 2013.

    An advi­so­ry body to Mr Abe said last year that open­ing the immi­gra­tion draw­bridge to more for­eign­ers would even­tu­al­ly help sta­bilise the pop­u­la­tion – cur­rent­ly 127 mil­lion – “at around 100 mil­lion”.

    ...

    Less than 2pc of the pop­u­la­tion is for­eign, and that includes hun­dreds of thou­sands of long-term res­i­dents from Chi­na and Korea

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 25, 2015, 6:48 pm
  5. There’s nev­er real­ly a good time pro­mote the white­wash­ing of war crimes. But leave it up to Japan’s neo-Nazi cab­i­net min­is­ters to find the worst time:

    AFP

    Japan min­is­ters go to Yasuku­ni a day after Chi­na talks
    By Miwa Suzu­ki
    April 23, 2015 6:46 AM

    The day after Japan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe sat down for his first sub­stan­tial talks with Chi­na’s Xi Jin­ping, three of his cab­i­net min­is­ters Thurs­day vis­it­ed the war shrine Bei­jing sees as a sym­bol of Toky­o’s vio­lent past.

    Vis­its by the three women have the poten­tial to mud­dy diplo­mat­ic waters that were start­ing to clear after their nation­al­ist boss sat down with the Chi­nese pres­i­dent on the side­lines of a region­al sum­mit in Jakar­ta.

    “I offered my sin­cere appre­ci­a­tion for the peo­ple who fought and sac­ri­ficed their pre­cious lives for the sake of the coun­try,” Nation­al Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mis­sion chief Eriko Yamatani told reporters after her pil­grim­age.

    “I pledged efforts for build­ing a peace­ful coun­try,” said the min­is­ter, known for her stri­dent nation­al­is­tic views.

    She was fol­lowed over the next few hours by Haruko Arimu­ra, state min­is­ter in charge of female empow­er­ment and inter­nal affairs min­is­ter Sanae Takaichi.

    More than 100 Japan­ese law­mak­ers went to the shrine on Wednes­day to coin­cide with its spring fes­ti­val, even as offi­cials were mak­ing final arrange­ments for the Xi-Abe meet.

    Abe had asked his min­is­ters not to vis­it before the talks hap­pened, accord­ing to Jiji Press.

    Xi and Abe held dis­cus­sions in Jakar­ta for about 30 min­utes, their first lengthy pow-wow since both men took the helm of nations that are bit­ter­ly at odds over his­to­ry and cur­rent ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­putes.

    Abe lat­er told reporters that they had a “very mean­ing­ful sum­mit meet­ing” and bilat­er­al rela­tions were improv­ing.

    In Tokyo Thurs­day, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga, speak­ing after Yamatani’s pil­grim­age, said it should have no bear­ing on warm­ing Chi­na ties.

    “I don’t think there will be (any impact). The vis­it was made in a per­son­al capac­i­ty.”

    - ‘Unlike­ly to dam­age’ -

    Masaru Ikei, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Keio Uni­ver­si­ty and an expert on Japan­ese diplo­mat­ic his­to­ry, said shrine vis­its like this were some­what inevitable, but unlike­ly to be a dis­as­ter.

    “It would have been bet­ter if cab­i­net min­is­ters had stayed away, as well as the prime min­is­ter,” he said.

    But Abe could not stop min­is­ters from going “in a pri­vate capac­i­ty”, he said, point­ing to the polit­i­cal need for con­ser­v­a­tive politi­cians to appease their sup­port base.

    “There is con­sid­er­able repul­sion among peo­ple (on the right) who believe Japan makes too many con­ces­sions” on his­to­ry.

    It is often said that Japan-Chi­na rela­tions are cold polit­i­cal­ly but hot eco­nom­i­cal­ly, he not­ed.

    “There would be no point in wors­en­ing ties fur­ther when Abe­nomics seems to be bring­ing some ben­e­fits,” he said, refer­ring to Abe’s pro-spend­ing eco­nom­ic poli­cies.

    “I think it is unlike­ly to cause major dam­age” to ties, he added.

    In Bei­jing, for­eign min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said Chi­na was “strong­ly opposed” to vis­its that “rep­re­sent their erro­neous atti­tude towards his­to­ry”.

    “I’d like to reit­er­ate that only by fac­ing square­ly and hav­ing deep remorse over the past his­to­ry of aggres­sion and mak­ing a clean break with mil­i­tarism, can Chi­na-Japan rela­tions realise sound and steady rela­tions and devel­op­ment.”

    ...

    Yasuku­ni Shrine hon­ours those who fought and died for Japan, but also includes a num­ber of senior mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal fig­ures con­vict­ed of the most seri­ous war crimes.

    Yamatani, Arimu­ra and Takaichi are con­ser­v­a­tive female min­is­ters who also vis­it­ed the shrine dur­ing its autumn fes­ti­val last year.

    Abe, who has not vis­it­ed since Decem­ber 2013, sent a sym­bol­ic offer­ing of a small tree on Tues­day, spark­ing anger from Bei­jing and Seoul.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2015, 8:56 am
  6. A deranged man attacked a res­i­dence for peo­ple dis­abil­i­ties in Japan last week, stab­bing 19 peo­ple to death. A num­ber of ques­tions are being asked about how this could hap­pen and whether enough was being done to pre­vent the attack. These are under­stand­ably a lot of ques­tions, espe­cial­ly giv­en that the man pre­vi­ous­ly worked for the facil­i­ty and was com­mit­ted to a men­tal hos­pi­tal back in Feb­ru­ary after writ­ing a let­ter to a politi­cian call­ing for the euthana­sia of dis­able peo­ple and pledg­ing to kill hun­dreds and released with­out fol­lowup and police vis­it­ed his home hours before the attack when no one was home. So, yes, there are quite a few ques­tions about how this hap­pened:

    The New York Times

    Knife Attack in Japan Leaves Many Won­der­ing if Police Did Enough

    By JONATHAN SOBLE
    JULY 27, 2016

    TOKYO — A day after the worst mass killing in its post­war his­to­ry, Japan was grap­pling on Wednes­day with why law enforce­ment and men­tal health offi­cials were unable to stop a trou­bled man they had been aware of for months.

    Satoshi Uemat­su, a 26-year-old for­mer employ­ee of a res­i­dence for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, con­fessed to stab­bing 19 peo­ple to death ear­ly Tues­day.

    Although the author­i­ties appear to have respond­ed prompt­ly to ear­li­er instances of omi­nous behav­ior by Mr. Uemat­su, legal spe­cial­ists, advo­cates for dis­abled peo­ple and mem­bers of the news media are ques­tion­ing whether those author­i­ties did enough to mon­i­tor and treat an appar­ent­ly trou­bled man who had adver­tised his will­ing­ness to kill.

    “Giv­en that he warned he would com­mit a crime,” the news­pa­per Mainichi Shim­bun said in an edi­to­r­i­al, “there needs to be a thor­ough exam­i­na­tion.”

    In Feb­ru­ary, Mr. Uemat­su was briefly com­mit­ted to a men­tal hos­pi­tal after he deliv­ered a ram­bling let­ter to a politi­cian in which he threat­ened to kill hand­i­capped peo­ple.

    “I can oblit­er­ate 470 dis­abled peo­ple,” he wrote in the let­ter, which was obtained by sev­er­al Japan­ese news out­lets on Tues­day. The killings, Mr. Uemat­su was quot­ed as say­ing, would be “for the sake of Japan and the world” and would “pre­vent World War III.”

    Four days after he dropped off that let­ter, Mr. Uemat­su was placed under invol­un­tary psy­chi­atric super­vi­sion by order of offi­cials in the city of Sagami­hara, where he lived and where the res­i­dence for dis­abled peo­ple, Tsukui Yamayuri-en, is locat­ed.

    In addi­tion to writ­ing the let­ter, he had told co-work­ers at the facil­i­ty, home to about 150 peo­ple with men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, that he thought severe­ly hand­i­capped peo­ple should be euth­a­nized, the center’s man­age­ment said.

    Mr. Uemat­su spent two weeks in the hos­pi­tal before two doc­tors deter­mined that his psy­chot­ic symp­toms had abat­ed and that it was safe to release him, the author­i­ties said. He was released into the cus­tody of his par­ents and was sup­posed to return to the hos­pi­tal for out­pa­tient treat­ment, but it appears there was lit­tle fol­low-up.

    “There’s noth­ing in the law that spec­i­fies what the city is sup­posed to do after release,” said Eiji Yagi, direc­tor of the wel­fare depart­ment in Sagami­hara. The city offi­cials said they did not know whether he had abid­ed by the con­di­tions of his release.

    “There’s sup­posed to be a sup­port plan involv­ing wel­fare insti­tu­tions and the com­mu­ni­ty,” said Shota Oku­miya, a lawyer who has defend­ed crim­i­nal sus­pects with men­tal ill­ness. But often, he said, “there’s no bud­get for it.”

    In April, Yamayuri-en installed 16 sur­veil­lance cam­eras after the police sug­gest­ed the facil­i­ty strength­en its secu­ri­ty. On the night of the attack, in which an addi­tion­al 26 res­i­dents were injured, most of them seri­ous­ly, eight staff mem­bers and a secu­ri­ty guard were on duty.

    The police say Mr. Uemat­su was able to restrain sev­er­al of his sleep­ing vic­tims with plas­tic cable ties before he began method­i­cal­ly slit­ting their throats.

    Hours before the attack, a police car drove up to Mr. Uematsu’s home, a neigh­bor, Aki­hi­ro Hasegawa, 73, said, adding that no one was home at the time. The Japan­ese media report­ed on Wednes­day that Mr. Uematsu’s car had been found parked ille­gal­ly, but it is unlike­ly the police would have gone to his house to deliv­er a park­ing sum­mons. City and pre­fec­ture police declined to com­ment on the police vis­it.

    The author­i­ties said Mr. Uemat­su had test­ed pos­i­tive for mar­i­jua­na dur­ing his hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. The rela­tion­ship between cannabis use and psy­chosis has long been debat­ed, but many experts believe the drug can exac­er­bate the symp­toms of peo­ple pre­dis­posed to schiz­o­phre­nia and oth­er men­tal ill­ness­es.

    A Japan­ese tele­vi­sion net­work, TBS, quot­ed an uniden­ti­fied child­hood friend of Mr. Uematsu’s as say­ing he con­tin­ued to smoke mar­i­jua­na after his release.

    Anoth­er per­son who knew Mr. Uemat­su told the net­work that his per­son­al­i­ty had begun to change late in his col­lege years. This per­son said that although he was usu­al­ly friend­ly and out­go­ing, he began using syn­thet­ic mar­i­jua­na-like drugs, cov­ered his back in tat­toos and showed bouts of aggres­sive behav­ior.

    “He would say how tak­ing care of dis­abled peo­ple was a waste of mon­ey for the coun­try,” TBS quot­ed the friend as say­ing.

    It is unclear whether Mr. Uemat­su ever sought help. Japan has only recent­ly begun to dis­re­gard long­stand­ing taboos on dis­cussing men­tal ill­ness, and experts say the sort of men­tal health pro­grams wide­ly avail­able to stu­dents at uni­ver­si­ties in the Unit­ed States and else­where remain rel­a­tive­ly rare.

    After a knife-wield­ing man killed eight chil­dren at a pri­ma­ry school in Osa­ka in 2001, the Japan­ese Par­lia­ment passed a law expand­ing men­tal health treat­ment for peo­ple con­vict­ed of vio­lent crimes. But there has been less focus on ear­ly diag­no­sis and pre­ven­tion, said Nozo­mi Ban­do, a social work­er and doc­tor­al can­di­date at Osa­ka Uni­ver­si­ty.

    “Espe­cial­ly if the per­son has turned to drugs, there’s a sense that if you talk to any­one about it, you’ll be kicked out of school at the least,” she said. “Get­ting coun­sel­ing is just not some­thing that would occur to most peo­ple.”

    Osamu Aoki, a jour­nal­ist and com­men­ta­tor, wrote, “This kind of extreme and unusu­al case could lead peo­ple to brand those with men­tal ill­ness­es as dan­ger­ous, and lead to a short­sight­ed debate and calls for more pre­ven­tive mea­sures like invol­un­tary com­mit­ment.”

    ...

    With health and wel­fare bud­gets strained, how­ev­er, the need for work­ers has not done much to push up wages, which are most­ly at or near the min­i­mum. That has left many employ­ers lit­tle pow­er to be choosy in hir­ing.

    Low-rank­ing night-shift work­ers at Yamayuri-en were paid 905 yen an hour, or about $8.60.

    “Although the author­i­ties appear to have respond­ed prompt­ly to ear­li­er instances of omi­nous behav­ior by Mr. Uemat­su, legal spe­cial­ists, advo­cates for dis­abled peo­ple and mem­bers of the news media are ques­tion­ing whether those author­i­ties did enough to mon­i­tor and treat an appar­ent­ly trou­bled man who had adver­tised his will­ing­ness to kill.”

    Let’s hope Japan does­n’t turn this into a col­lec­tive freak­out over men­tal ill­ness because it sounds like there are a num­ber of improve­ments required in this area and that’s always omi­nous for when men­tal ill­ness and vio­lence become inter­twined. Let’s also hope Uemat­su’s mar­i­jua­na usage does­n’t trig­ger a dam­ag­ing Reefer Mad­ness crack­down, espe­cial­ly giv­en the neb­u­lous nature of the rela­tion­ships between mar­i­jua­na and men­tal ill­ness­es like schiz­o­phre­nia. Although, giv­en the dra­con­ian laws already on the books, more Reefer Mad­ness isn’t real­ly an option. Still, giv­en that the first lady, Akie Abe, recent­ly come out in sup­port of hemp cul­ti­va­tion and med­ical mar­i­jua­na, it would be a harm­ful shame if this attack derailed that reform move­ment.

    So while it’s unclear what Japan will do to update its men­tal health sys­tem and safe­guards, it’s worth not­ing that there is one very sim­ple thing that could be done to reduce the odds of anoth­er attack of this nature on the dis­abled. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the odds of actu­al­ly car­ry­ing out this sim­ple task is pret­ty low, since it would entail get­ting Japan’s deputy prime min­is­ter, Taro Aso, to renounce his advo­ca­cy of of the elder­ly renounc­ing med­ical care so they can die quick­ly to cut down on health­care costs:

    The Guardian

    Let elder­ly peo­ple ‘hur­ry up and die’, says Japan­ese min­is­ter
    Taro Aso says he would refuse end-of-life care and would ‘feel bad’ know­ing treat­ment was paid for by gov­ern­ment

    Justin McCur­ry in Tokyo

    Tues­day 22 Jan­u­ary 2013 03.42 EST

    Japan’s new gov­ern­ment is bare­ly a month old, and already one of its most senior mem­bers has insult­ed tens of mil­lions of vot­ers by sug­gest­ing that the elder­ly are an unnec­es­sary drain on the coun­try’s finances.

    Taro Aso, the finance min­is­ter, said on Mon­day that the elder­ly should be allowed to “hur­ry up and die” to relieve pres­sure on the state to pay for their med­ical care.

    “Heav­en for­bid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feel­ing increas­ing­ly bad know­ing that [treat­ment] was all being paid for by the gov­ern­ment,” he said dur­ing a meet­ing of the nation­al coun­cil on social secu­ri­ty reforms. “The prob­lem won’t be solved unless you let them hur­ry up and die.”

    Aso’s com­ments are like­ly to cause offence in Japan, where almost a quar­ter of the 128 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion is aged over 60. The pro­por­tion is fore­cast to rise to 40% over the next 50 years.

    The remarks are also an unwel­come dis­trac­tion for the new prime min­is­ter, Shin­zo Abe, whose first peri­od as Japan’s leader end­ed with his res­ig­na­tion after just a year, in 2007, part­ly due to a string of gaffes by mem­bers of his cab­i­net.

    Ris­ing wel­fare costs, par­tic­u­lar­ly for the elder­ly, were behind a deci­sion last year to dou­ble con­sump­tion [sales] tax to 10% over the next three years, a move Aso’s Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty sup­port­ed.

    The 72-year-old, who dou­bles as deputy prime min­is­ter, said he would refuse end-of-life care. “I don’t need that kind of care,” he said in com­ments quot­ed by local media, adding that he had writ­ten a note instruct­ing his fam­i­ly to deny him life-pro­long­ing med­ical treat­ment.

    To com­pound the insult, he referred to elder­ly patients who are no longer able to feed them­selves as “tube peo­ple”. The health and wel­fare min­istry, he added, was “well aware that it costs sev­er­al tens of mil­lions of yen” a month to treat a sin­gle patient in the final stages of life.

    Cost aside, car­ing for the elder­ly is a major chal­lenge for Japan’s stretched social ser­vices. Accord­ing to a report this week, the num­ber of house­holds receiv­ing wel­fare, which include fam­i­ly mem­bers aged 65 or over, stood at more than 678,000, or about 40% of the total. The coun­try is also tack­ling a rise in the num­ber of peo­ple who die alone, most of whom are elder­ly. In 2010, 4.6 mil­lion elder­ly peo­ple lived alone, and the num­ber who died at home soared 61% between 2003 and 2010, from 1,364 to 2,194, accord­ing to the bureau of social wel­fare and pub­lic health in Tokyo.

    The gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to reduce wel­fare expen­di­ture in its next bud­get, due to go into force this April, with details of the cuts expect­ed with­in days.

    Aso, who has a propen­si­ty for ver­bal blun­ders, lat­er attempt­ed to clar­i­fy his com­ments. He acknowl­edged his lan­guage had been “inap­pro­pri­ate” in a pub­lic forum and insist­ed he was talk­ing only about his per­son­al pref­er­ence.

    “I said what I per­son­al­ly believe, not what the end-of-life med­ical care sys­tem should be,” he told reporters. “It is impor­tant that you be able spend the final days of your life peace­ful­ly.”

    It is not the first time Aso, one of Japan’s wealth­i­est politi­cians, has ques­tioned the state’s duty towards its large elder­ly pop­u­la­tion. In 2008, while serv­ing as prime min­is­ter, he described “dod­der­ing” pen­sion­ers as tax bur­dens who should take bet­ter care of their health.

    “I see peo­ple aged 67 or 68 at class reunions who dod­der around and are con­stant­ly going to the doc­tor,” he said at a meet­ing of econ­o­mists. “Why should I have to pay for peo­ple who just eat and drink and make no effort? I walk every day and do oth­er things, but I’m pay­ing more in tax­es.”

    ...

    “Heav­en for­bid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feel­ing increas­ing­ly bad know­ing that [treat­ment] was all being paid for by the gov­ern­ment...The prob­lem won’t be solved unless you let them hur­ry up and die.

    Yes, accord­ing to Japan’s deputy prime min­is­ter, he does­n’t want to euth­a­nize the elder­ly. He just wants them to feel real­ly guilty about how much their health­care is cost­ing the state and then choose to euth­a­nize them­selves so peo­ple like Aso, one of Japan’s wealth­i­est politi­cians, can pay less in tax­es.

    So as we can see, Japan’s politi­cians have quite a few men­tal health chal­lenges to deal with in com­ing days in the wake of this attack. As we can also see, politi­cians like Taro Aso have some extra men­tal health chal­lenges to deal with.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 31, 2016, 6:15 pm
  7. With Poke­mon Go tak­ing the world by storm, some in Japan are ask­ing if super pop­u­lar app is the first big suc­cess of Abe’s “Cool Japan” nation­al strat­e­gy for export­ing Japan­ese cul­ture around the world. We’ll have to wait and see. But for Tomo­mi Ina­da, Japan’s Min­is­ter of the “Cool Japan” Strat­e­gy (that’s a real cab­i­net post), she’s not going to have much time to pro­mote more Japan­ese cul­tur­al cool­ness. Why? Because she just became Japan’s new Defense Min­is­ter:

    Reuters

    Japan’s PM picks hawk­ish defense min­is­ter for new cab­i­net, vows eco­nom­ic recov­ery

    TOKYO | By Elaine Lies and Kiyoshi Tak­e­na­ka
    Wed Aug 3, 2016 11:44am EDT

    Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe appoint­ed a con­ser­v­a­tive ally as defense min­is­ter in a cab­i­net reshuf­fle on Wednes­day that left most key posts unchanged, and he promised to has­ten the econ­o­my’s escape from defla­tion and boost region­al ties.

    New defense min­is­ter Tomo­mi Ina­da, pre­vi­ous­ly the rul­ing par­ty pol­i­cy chief, shares Abe’s goal of revis­ing the post-war, paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion, which some con­ser­v­a­tives con­sid­er a humil­i­at­ing sym­bol of Japan’s World War Two defeat.

    She also reg­u­lar­ly vis­its Toky­o’s Yasuku­ni Shrine for war dead, which Chi­na and South Korea see as a sym­bol of Japan’s past mil­i­tarism. Japan’s ties with Chi­na and South Korea have been frayed by the lega­cy of its mil­i­tary aggres­sion before and dur­ing World War Two.

    Asked if she would vis­it Yasuku­ni on August 15, the emo­tive anniver­sary of Japan’s sur­ren­der in World War Two, Ina­da side­stepped the query.

    “It’s a mat­ter of con­science, and I don’t think I should com­ment on whether I will go or not,” she told a news con­fer­ence.

    Ina­da, a 57-year-old lawyer, is the sec­ond woman to hold the defense post. The first, Yuriko Koike, who held the job briefly in 2007, was recent­ly elect­ed Tokyo gov­er­nor.

    The for­eign min­istries of Chi­na and South Korea had no imme­di­ate com­ment on the appoint­ment.

    She also echoed Abe in empha­siz­ing the dan­ger posed by North Kore­a’s mis­sile launch, and the need for close region­al ties.

    “We will steadi­ly strength­en ties with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries such as Chi­na and South Korea, and pro­ceed with talks with Rus­sia for a peace treaty,” Abe told an ear­li­er news con­fer­ence.

    Japan and Rus­sia nev­er signed a for­mal treaty after World War Two because of a ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­pute.

    ...

    GOING FOR GROWTH

    Abe, who is try­ing to rekin­dle growth as he pon­ders the pos­si­bil­i­ty of stay­ing in office after his term as pres­i­dent of the rul­ing Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (LDP) ends in 2018, said on Wednes­day that his top pri­or­i­ty was the econ­o­my.

    On Tues­day, his out­go­ing cab­i­net approved 13.5 tril­lion yen ($133.58 bil­lion) in fis­cal steps to try to revive the econ­o­my.

    Abe, who took office in Decem­ber 2012, will retain his right­hand man, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga, along with Finance Min­is­ter Taro Aso and For­eign Min­is­ter Fumio Kishi­da.

    Eco­nom­ics Min­is­ter Nobuteru Ishi­hara will also be kept on, along with Health, Wel­fare and Labour Min­is­ter Yasuhisa Shioza­ki. Deputy Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Hiroshige Seko will become trade and indus­try min­is­ter.

    Tamayo Marukawa, the envi­ron­ment min­is­ter in the pre­vi­ous cab­i­net, was appoint­ed min­is­ter to over­see prepa­ra­tions for Toky­o’s 2020 Sum­mer Olympic Games.

    Abe also appoint­ed a new LDP exec­u­tive line-up.

    The appoint­ment of Toshi­hi­ro Nikai, 77, as LDP sec­re­tary gen­er­al was seen as sig­nal­ing Abe’s hopes for a third term.

    ...

    “She also reg­u­lar­ly vis­its Toky­o’s Yasuku­ni Shrine for war dead, which Chi­na and South Korea see as a sym­bol of Japan’s past mil­i­tarism. Japan’s ties with Chi­na and South Korea have been frayed by the lega­cy of its mil­i­tary aggres­sion before and dur­ing World War Two.”

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Ina­da shares Shin­zo Abe’s goal of strip­ping out Japan’s paci­fism from the con­sti­tu­tion. So will she become the first Defense Min­is­ter of a remil­i­ta­rized Japan? We’ll see, but it’s worth recall­ing that Ina­da is also one of Abe’s cab­i­net mem­bers who embraces neo-Nazi anti-Kore­an hate groups and who has pro­mot­ed an a book on Hiter’s Elec­tion Strate­gies. So, at a min­i­mum, Ina­da prob­a­bly pret­ty famil­iar with strate­gies for over­haul­ing a con­sti­tu­tion:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    For Top Pols In Japan Crime Doesn’t Pay, But Hate Crime Does
    As Japan’s prime min­is­ter address­es the Unit­ed Nations on Fri­day his rep­u­ta­tion at home is taint­ed by links to avowed racists.

    Writ­ten by Jake Adel­stein and Angela Eri­ka Kubo
    09.25.14 11:00 PM ET

    TOKYO, Japan — Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe will be speak­ing to the Unit­ed Nations this Fri­day, but he may not be very wel­come. In late July, the Unit­ed Nations’ Com­mit­tee on the Elim­i­na­tion of Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion urged Japan to crack down on the grow­ing cas­es of “hate speech” tar­get­ing for­eign res­i­dents. The U.N. com­mit­tee urged Prime Min­is­ter Abe’s admin­is­tra­tion to “firm­ly address man­i­fes­ta­tions of hate and racism as well as incite­ment to racist vio­lence and hatred dur­ing ral­lies,” and cre­ate laws to rec­ti­fy the sit­u­a­tion.

    Recent events make it appear that the prime min­is­ter and his cab­i­net are not pay­ing atten­tion; sev­er­al mem­bers of the cab­i­net not only appear obliv­i­ous to racism and hate speech issues, they asso­ciate with those who pro­mote them.

    Last week pho­tographs of Japan’s new­ly appoint­ed Nation­al Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mis­sion­er social­iz­ing with mem­bers of the country’s most vir­u­lent racist group, Zaitokukai, were brought to light in an expose by Japan’s lead­ing week­ly mag­a­zine, Shukan Bun­shun. In U.S. terms, it would be the equiv­a­lent of the attor­ney gen­er­al get­ting caught chum­ming around with a Grand Drag­on of the Ku Klux Klan. This week it was report­ed that anoth­er cab­i­net mem­ber received dona­tions from them, and that Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe him­self may have ties to the staunch­ly anti-Kore­an orga­ni­za­tion.

    All of this isn’t good for Japan and Korea rela­tions, since much of the racism is direct­ed at peo­ple of Kore­an descent, nor is it good for U.S.-Japan rela­tions. In Feb­ru­ary, the U.S. State Depart­ment in its annu­al report on human rights, crit­i­cized the hate speech towards Kore­an res­i­dents in Japan, specif­i­cal­ly nam­ing the Zaitokukai. The group is well known for its anti-social actions, but The Dai­ly Beast has learned that it also has had ties to Japan’s mafia—including the Sumiyoshi-kai, which is black­list­ed by the Unit­ed States.

    The lat­est news of links between the Japan­ese rul­ing coali­tion and unsa­vory char­ac­ters comes just after anoth­er scan­dal involv­ing neo-nazi links to two oth­er cab­i­net mem­bers made head­lines world­wide.

    The stan­dard line of defense offered by the cab­i­net mem­bers embroiled in con­tro­ver­sy over their con­nec­tions to racist groups, “We just hap­pened to get pho­tographed with these peo­ple. We don’t know who they are,” is get­ting hard­er to swal­low. And it has raised some dis­turb­ing issues.

    ...

    The Zaitokukai, found­ed in 2006, has a name best trans­lat­ed as “Cit­i­zens Against the Spe­cial Priv­i­leges of Eth­nic Kore­ans.” They are an ultra-nation­al­ist, right-wing group that argues for the elim­i­na­tion of priv­i­leges extend­ed to for­eign­ers who had been grant­ed Spe­cial For­eign Res­i­dent status—mostly Kore­an-Japan­ese.

    The Zaitokukai also col­lect a lot of mon­ey in dona­tions from like-mind­ed cit­i­zens.

    The group, which is led by Mako­to Saku­rai, whose real name is Mako­to Taka­da, claims that eth­nic Kore­ans abuse the social and wel­fare sys­tem in Japan. Zaitokukai claims to have over 14,000 mem­bers. It orga­nizes protests and demon­stra­tions across Japan, even in front of Kore­an ele­men­tary schools, yelling such slo­gans as “Go back to Korea,” “You’re the chil­dren of spies”—making numer­ous veiled and overt threats. The group asserts that all for­eign­ers are crim­i­nals who should be chased out of Japan, espe­cial­ly the Kore­ans.

    In a recent book, Saku­rai states, “The Japan­ese under­stand what the Kore­ans are up to. If you think about it, there’s no way we can get along with these peo­ple. Even though Japan­ese peo­ple don’t do any­thing, Kore­ans just cause one inci­dent (crime) after anoth­er. Every time a Kore­an com­mits anoth­er crime, our sup­port goes up.”
    And when sup­port goes up, so do the earn­ings of the Zaitokukai—earnings that are poor­ly account­ed for and go untaxed. It’s a great rack­et and it’s com­plete­ly legal.

    How­ev­er, the group does have asso­ci­a­tions with the Japan­ese mafia, aka the yakuza, and those may not be legal. They are very close­ly tied to the polit­i­cal arm of the Sumiyoshikai, known as Nihon­sein­sha..

    Eriko Yamatani, as chair­man of the Nation­al Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mis­sion, over­sees Japan’s police forces. It makes her asso­ci­a­tion with Zaitokukai and their crim­i­nal­ly inclined mem­bers high­ly prob­lem­at­ic. One pic­ture that dates back to 2009 shows Yamatani stand­ing next to Yasuhiko Ara­ma­ki, who was arrest­ed a year lat­er for ter­ror­iz­ing a Kore­an ele­men­tary school in Kyoto, found guilty and then lat­er arrest­ed again in 2012 on charges of intim­i­da­tion..

    Anoth­er of the peo­ple pho­tographed with Yamatani is Shi­geo Masu­ki, a for­mer Zaitokukai leader. Masu­ki was arrest­ed at least three times after the pho­to­graph was shot, once for threat­en­ing an ele­men­tary school prin­ci­pal and lat­er for insur­ance fraud. Yamatani ini­tial­ly denied that she knew of the Zaitokukai affil­i­a­tion of the peo­ple in the pic­tures. This is slight­ly strange since she has report­ed­ly been friends with Masu­ki and his wife for over a decade. When reply­ing to ques­tions from TBS radio about the recent scan­dal, she explained the Zaitokukai exact­ly in the ter­mi­nol­o­gy of a true believ­er, inad­ver­tent­ly using the words “Zainichi Tokken (Spe­cial rights of the Kore­an Res­i­dents In Japan)” her­self. At a press con­fer­ence held today (Sep­tem­ber 25th), she was ques­tioned about her use of the term and stat­ed uncom­fort­ably, “In my reply (to TBS) I might have just copy and past­ed from the Zaitokukai home­page.” She refused to crit­i­cize the group by name or clar­i­fy whether she believed that eth­nic Kore­ans had spe­cial priv­i­leges.

    Yamatani, in her cur­rent posi­tion, over­sees the Nation­al Police Agency—the very same agency that not­ed in its 2013 white paper that the Zaitokukai were com­mit­ting hate speech, pro­mot­ing racism, and posed a threat to the social order. If hate-speech becomes a crime, she may be in charge of over­see­ing the police that enforce the law.

    She isn’t the only one close to the Zaitokukai in the cur­rent cab­i­net. Accord­ing to the mag­a­zine Sun­day Mainichi, Ms. Tomo­mi Ina­da, Min­is­ter Of The “Cool Japan” Strat­e­gy, also received dona­tions from Masa­ki and oth­er Zaitokukai asso­ciates.

    Appar­ent­ly, racism is cool in Japan.

    Ina­da made news ear­li­er this month after pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ed of her and anoth­er female in the new cab­i­net pos­ing with a neo-Nazi par­ty leader. Both denied know­ing the neo-Nazi well but lat­er were revealed to have con­tributed blurbs for an adver­tise­ment prais­ing the out-of-print book Hitler’s Elec­tion Strategy. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, Vice-Prime Minister,Taro As, is also a long-time admir­er of Nazi polit­i­cal strat­e­gy, and has sug­gest­ed Japan fol­low the Nazi Par­ty tem­plate to sneak con­sti­tu­tion­al change past the pub­lic.

    Even Japan’s Prime Min­is­ter Abe has been pho­tographed with mem­bers of Zaitokukai. Masu­ki, who snapped a pho­to with Abe on August 17h 2009, while he was still a mem­ber of the group, bragged that Abe “kind­ly remem­bered him.”

    ...

    “Ina­da made news ear­li­er this month after pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ed of her and anoth­er female in the new cab­i­net pos­ing with a neo-Nazi par­ty leader. Both denied know­ing the neo-Nazi well but lat­er were revealed to have con­tributed blurbs for an adver­tise­ment prais­ing the out-of-print book Hitler’s Elec­tion Strategy. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, Vice-Prime Minister,Taro As, is also a long-time admir­er of Nazi polit­i­cal strat­e­gy, and has sug­gest­ed Japan fol­low the Nazi Par­ty tem­plate to sneak con­sti­tu­tion­al change past the pub­lic.”

    That’s right, Japan’s new Defense Min­is­ter con­tributed blurbs for an adver­tise­ment prais­ing a book on Hitler’s elec­tion strat­e­gy. And the vice-Prime Min­is­ter, Taro Aso, an advo­cate for let­ting the elder­ly die to reduce his tax­es, has sug­gest­ed Japan fol­low the Nazi Par­ty tem­plate to sneak con­sti­tu­tion­al changes past the pub­lic.

    So, yeah, don’t be sur­prised if Tomo­mi Ina­da ends up becom­ing the first Japan­ese Defense Min­is­ter with the con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers to declare war. Also don’t be sur­prised if that pow­er is hor­ri­bly abused since, you know, she’s part of a neo-Nazi-sym­pa­thiz­ing gov­ern­ment. That’s not very cool.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 5, 2016, 8:04 am
  8. Here’s an inter­est­ing poten­tial road­block for Shin­zo Abe’s ambi­tions to over­haul Japan’s paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion. Emper­or Aki­hi­to, who recent­ly raised idea of abdi­cat­ing his throne due to health issues, some­thing that has­n’t hap­pened in over 200 years and may not actu­al­ly be allowed in the con­sti­tu­tion. But as he pre­pares Japan’s pub­lic for this con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly ques­tion­able abdi­ca­tion, he appears to have one par­tic­u­lar mes­sage that he would like to con­vey before he steps down: Don’t change the paci­fist nature of the con­sti­tu­tion. And the incom­ing Crown Prince Naruhi­to appears to share those views. So if Abe is going to suc­ceed in chang­ing the con­sti­tu­tion to allow for the remil­i­ta­riza­tion of Japan, he’s going to have to do over the oppo­si­tion of the cur­rent and future emper­ors:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    The Emper­or Strikes Back: Japan’s Monarch Takes On Impe­ri­al­ist Abe
    Rais­ing the issue of his abdi­ca­tion, the emper­or under­mines the neo-impe­r­i­al designs of the prime min­is­ter. But the bat­tle between the palace and the PM has just begun.

    writ­ten by Mari Yamamo­to & Jake Adel­stein

    08.08.16 11:55 AM ET

    TOKYO — When the Emper­or speaks, Japan lis­tens and so does the world. Mon­day at 3:00 p.m. local time a speech by Emper­or Aki­hi­to was tele­vised on a date that com­mem­o­rat­ed no anniver­sary or major tragedy, as most of his address­es do. Instead it per­tained to the very Impe­r­i­al Sys­tem itself.

    The Emper­or, who is 82, dis­cussed his health, his posi­tion as a sym­bol of the state under Japan’s mod­ern con­sti­tu­tion, the hard­ship of his duties, his love for the peo­ple of Japan—and made clear his desire to abdi­cate the throne in his life­time in a way that would cause the least amount of tur­moil.

    He used the word, “the peo­ple” (koku­min) fre­quent­ly, speak­ing to the nation in a father­ly, thought­ful tone and ask­ing for under­stand­ing.

    The Emperor’s speech, in its qui­et way, was the open­ing sal­vo in a bat­tle for the future of mod­ern Japan, a nation he sees as “based on peace and democ­ra­cy as impor­tant val­ues to be upheld.”

    Some of it had been telegraphed before, prepar­ing the pub­lic for what’s to come. There had been hints in the press dat­ing back years, then last month Japan­ese pub­lic broad­cast­er NHK caused a sen­sa­tion by report­ing that the emper­or might want to abdi­cate the throne before he dies—something that hasn’t hap­pened in Japan for more than 200 years and, indeed, some­thing the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tion doesn’t appear to allow.

    Monday’s speech left lit­tle doubt his desire and intent is to step down, if such a thing can be arranged, but more impor­tant­ly it marks the pre­lude to what may be an epic bat­tle between the emperor’s suc­ces­sor, Crown Prince Naruhi­to, and the man some crit­ics call the Clown Prince—Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe, leader of Japan’s rul­ing Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.

    Media reports in Japan already are call­ing the con­sid­er­a­tion of abdi­ca­tion the cur­rent emperor’s final act of resis­tance against the prime min­is­ter, a bid to halt the return to Japan’s aggres­sive pre-war atti­tudes and poli­cies.

    There was, to be sure, a cer­tain weari­ness in the emperor’s 11-minute pre­re­cord­ed speech and one can under­stand why—he remem­bers the war and its after­math first hand.

    He began his remarks with the acknowl­edge­ment that 70 years had passed since the end of the war, and that he was now past 80.

    The care­ful­ly woven speech was cen­tered on his con­cerns for his own phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions and their reper­cus­sions. He reflect­ed on the dif­fi­cul­ty of liv­ing up to the stan­dards of what is expect­ed of the Sym­bol­ic Emper­or (no longer con­sid­ered divine, as his fore­bears were) and the respon­si­bil­i­ty to do what is best for his peo­ple as well as his fam­i­ly.

    “I ascend­ed to the throne approx­i­mate­ly 28 years ago,” said Aki­hi­to, “and dur­ing these years, I have spent my days togeth­er with the peo­ple of Japan, shar­ing many of the joys as well as the sor­rows that have hap­pened in our coun­try. I have con­sid­ered that the first and fore­most duty of the Emper­or is to pray for peace and the hap­pi­ness of all the peo­ple. At the same time, I also believe that in some cas­es it is essen­tial to stand by the peo­ple, lis­ten to their voic­es, and be close to them in their thoughts.”

    “When the Emper­or has ill health and his con­di­tion becomes seri­ous, I am con­cerned that, as we have seen in the past, soci­ety comes to a stand­still and peo­ple’s lives are impact­ed in var­i­ous ways,” said Aki­hi­to. “It occurs to me from time to time to won­der whether it is pos­si­ble to pre­vent such a sit­u­a­tion.”

    He then touch­es upon Japan’s Impe­r­i­al his­to­ry, oblique­ly indi­cat­ing that, his­tor­i­cal­ly, emper­ors did abdi­cate and that he hopes the peo­ple will under­stand his wish­es.

    Aki­hi­to end­ed the speech by reit­er­at­ing that he does not have pow­ers to influ­ence the con­sti­tu­tion (which his Japan­ese lis­ten­ers knew would be required were he to abdi­cate), but that he sin­cere­ly wish­es for the people’s under­stand­ing.

    He used the phrase “sym­bol of the state” six times. It was a point­ed ref­er­ence to the dark time in Japan’s his­to­ry where the emper­or was not a sym­bol but the divine ruler of Impe­r­i­al Japan. Under the pre-war con­sti­tu­tion Japan waged wars of con­quest in Chi­na, Korea and South­east Asia, even­tu­al­ly fight­ing, and los­ing, the Sec­ond World War as a coun­try dev­as­tat­ed by the fero­cious fire­bomb­ings of Tokyo and oth­er cities, and the U.S. atom­ic bomb attacks on Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki.

    Prime Min­is­ter Abe wants to revive that pre-war con­sti­tu­tion, and Abe, who under­stood the emperor’s mes­sage per­fect­ly well, did not like it.

    Abe read a short pre­pared speech to the press after the video was aired. He seemed irri­tat­ed as he not­ed that the emper­or had addressed “the people”—as if this direct appeal to the mass­es was the equiv­a­lent of going over his head.

    “We must seri­ous­ly think about the pub­lic duties and bur­dens of the Emper­or and what we can do about it,” Abe stat­ed. There was no pledge to change the laws or make abdi­ca­tion easy.

    In recent years, the emperor’s speech­es and those of Crown Prince Naruhito—who will most like­ly suc­ceed the cur­rent emper­or, per­haps even while his father is still alive—have been stud­ied for their sen­ti­ments on the impor­tance of paci­fism and the post-war con­sti­tu­tion. They have remem­bered hon­est­ly Japan’s crimes dur­ing the war, and voiced sub­tle oppo­si­tion to the renewed mil­i­tarism of the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion.

    ...

    This is a piv­otal moment in Japan­ese his­to­ry, and for the emper­or there must be a grim sense of déjà vu. Since Prime Min­is­ter Abe took office in 2012, Japan’s World Press Free­dom rank­ing has declined to 72; down from 11 in 2010.

    The state secre­cy bills which make it a poten­tial crime even to ask per­sis­tent ques­tions, were passed into laws amid huge protests.

    Japan’s remil­i­ta­riza­tion is steadi­ly under­way. The weapons indus­try has been revived; the coun­try is ship­ping arms.

    The State Secu­ri­ty Laws will enable Japan to wage war over­seas for the first time since the war end­ed. And if the rul­ing coali­tion some­how fails to alter the paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion, it will push to pass an emer­gency pow­ers act, which will give the Prime Min­is­ter pow­er to rewrite the laws dur­ing a time of cri­sis—some­thing straight out of the Nazi play­book. (Some mem­bers of Abe’s cab­i­net have a well-known admi­ra­tion for Hitler’s polit­i­cal strat­a­gems.)

    In post-war Japan, the emper­or has been con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly defined as the “sym­bol of the State and of the uni­ty of the peo­ple, deriv­ing his posi­tion from the will of the peo­ple with whom resides sov­er­eign pow­er” and he has “no pow­ers relat­ed to gov­ern­ment.”

    The Emper­or and his wife, Empress Michiko, have reigned more than 27 years as qui­et sym­bols of a paci­fist nation, liv­ing voic­es remind­ing the Japan­ese peo­ple of the hor­rif­ic past that the coun­try endured and that Impe­r­i­al Japan imposed on oth­ers.

    In light of the cur­rent administration’s revi­sion­ist incli­na­tions, many observers have picked up on a sig­nif­i­cant shift in the tone and con­tent of the Emper­ors’ pub­lic state­ments. This year alone, he has referred sev­er­al times to wartime expe­ri­ences and “the need to study and learn from this war.”

    Prime Min­is­ter Abe and his polit­i­cal allies have long derid­ed Japan’s con­sti­tu­tion as a humil­i­a­tion imposed upon the Japan­ese peo­ple by the Unit­ed States occu­pa­tion gov­ern­ment, imping­ing on “basic human rights.”

    Abe’s grand­fa­ther, Prime Min­is­ter Kishi Nobusuke, was Japan’s min­is­ter of muni­tions dur­ing the war. Kishi was also arrest­ed as a war crim­i­nal but nev­er pros­e­cut­ed and became a founder of the Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Abe, now lead­ing the same polit­i­cal par­ty, said in 2014, “My par­ty has been advo­cat­ing amend­ing our con­sti­tu­tion since its found­ing almost 60 year ago.”

    Con­trast that to the remark­ably lib­er­al and paci­fist remarks made by the emper­or on his birth­day in 2013:

    “After the war, Japan was occu­pied by the Allied forces and, based on peace and democ­ra­cy as val­ues to be upheld, estab­lished the Con­sti­tu­tion of Japan, under­took var­i­ous reforms and built the foun­da­tion of Japan that we know today. I have pro­found grat­i­tude for the efforts made by the Japan­ese peo­ple at the time, who helped recon­struct and improve the coun­try dev­as­tat­ed by the war. I also feel that we must not for­get the help extend­ed to us in those days by Amer­i­cans with an under­stand­ing of Japan and Japan­ese cul­ture.”

    The remarks were a far cry from the ral­ly­ing cry of “shake off the post-war regime” that Japan’s neo­cons love to chant.

    It is not only the emper­or who has been vocal about the cur­rent administration’s cur­rent mis­guid­ed rev­er­ence for the Impe­r­i­al Fam­i­ly. The num­ber of times Prince Naruhi­to has referred to the Japan­ese Con­sti­tu­tion in his annu­al birth­day press con­fer­ences has gone up sig­nif­i­cant­ly since 2012. He has also spo­ken of the neces­si­ty to cor­rect­ly pass down his­to­ry to future gen­er­a­tions seem­ing­ly a jab at Abe’s con­stant denial or min­i­miza­tion of Japan’s wartime crimes.

    Even the Empress Michiko, always beside her hus­band phys­i­cal­ly and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly, when asked on her birth­day in 2014 about her thoughts on upcom­ing 70th anniver­sary of the war, point­ed out the grave respon­si­bil­i­ty of Japan’s war crim­i­nals.

    It was some­thing that the Japan­ese pop­u­lar press attempt­ed to ignore. Lit­era, a Japan­ese news and research site, sug­gest­ed this was in direct response to Abe send­ing an offi­cial mes­sage of con­do­lence, as the leader of the LDP, to the memo­r­i­al ser­vices hon­or­ing the Class A war crim­i­nals that year.

    Abe and many in the LDP are known as staunch wor­ship­pers and sup­port­ers of the Yasuku­ni Shrine where Japan’s con­vict­ed war crim­i­nals such as Hide­ki Tojo are cur­rent­ly memo­ri­al­ized. Abe’s vis­it to the shrine and the prob­lems sur­round­ing it were tak­en up in the 2015 US gov­ern­ment report, Japan‑U.S. Rela­tions: Issues for Con­gress (PDF).

    ...

    The emperor’s abdi­ca­tion and the con­se­quences will cast a shad­ow on the LDP’s revi­sion­ist parade. One of the most ter­ri­fy­ing thoughts for the Abe admin­is­tra­tion after today’s speech must be about what will hap­pen after the crown has been passed. Imag­ine what the retired Emper­or would say once he steps off the Chrysan­the­mum Throne….

    “Every­thing the Emper­or says is cor­rect,” said the act­ing head of Nip­pon Kai­gi, Tadae Takubo, in a press con­fer­ence last month.

    This seem­ing­ly benign state­ment puts Abe and his cab­i­net in a dif­fi­cult posi­tion. If they real­ly wish a return to the Emper­or as the cen­ter of the gov­ern­ment, and believe his words are sacred—they will have to obey them. They will have to let him retire and respect his wish­es for a paci­fist Japan, and a con­sti­tu­tion that guar­an­tees basic human rights and renounces war.

    It may be a bit­ter pill to swal­low, but such would be the word of a god. Even a retired one.

    “Monday’s speech left lit­tle doubt his desire and intent is to step down, if such a thing can be arranged, but more impor­tant­ly it marks the pre­lude to what may be an epic bat­tle between the emperor’s suc­ces­sor, Crown Prince Naruhi­to, and the man some crit­ics call the Clown Prince—Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe, leader of Japan’s rul­ing Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.

    Crown Prince vs the Clown Prince! That does sound like an epic bat­tle in the mak­ing, espe­cial­ly since the out­come will direct­ly impact the like­li­hood of epic (and hor­rif­ic) real mil­i­tary bat­tles in the future. But keep in mind that the even if Crown Prince Naruhi­to suc­ceeds in block­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al remil­i­ta­riza­tion of Japan, that remil­i­ta­riza­tion is hap­pen­ing already any­way (get ready for Japan’s drone army) and Abe will still have a path to that con­sti­tu­tion­al change. All he needs to do is declare an emer­gency:

    ...

    Japan’s remil­i­ta­riza­tion is steadi­ly under­way. The weapons indus­try has been revived; the coun­try is ship­ping arms.

    The State Secu­ri­ty Laws will enable Japan to wage war over­seas for the first time since the war end­ed. And if the rul­ing coali­tion some­how fails to alter the paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion, it will push to pass an emer­gency pow­ers act, which will give the Prime Min­is­ter pow­er to rewrite the laws dur­ing a time of cri­sis—some­thing straight out of the Nazi play­book. (Some mem­bers of Abe’s cab­i­net have a well-known admi­ra­tion for Hitler’s polit­i­cal strat­a­gems.)

    ...

    That’s right, if paci­fist con­sti­tu­tion isn’t over­turned, Abe’s par­ty, which is set to have a super-major­i­ty in par­lia­ment after the recent elec­tions, will pass an emer­gency pow­ers act that just lets Abe rewrite the laws any­way.

    What might the emer­gency be that the gov­ern­ment uses to jus­ti­fy an emer­gency pow­ers act? That’s an unpleas­ant area of spec­u­la­tion but it pre­sum­ably involves some sort of con­flict that could jus­ti­fy a mil­i­tary response. Although, if you think about, the fact that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment, which is pop­u­lat­ed with neo-Nazis (includ­ing the new defense min­is­ter) and led by the grand­son of a WWII war crim­i­nal with a propen­si­ty for his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism, is plan­ning on declar­ing an emer­gency pow­ers act in order to push through its desired remil­i­ta­riza­tion of Japan does sort of qual­i­fy as an emer­gency. A nation­al and inter­na­tion­al emer­gency. So look out world, Japan has an emer­gency emer­gency and its your emer­gency too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2016, 7:38 pm

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