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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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