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

For The Record  

FTR #296 The Return of the Rising Sun, The Reemergence of Fascism in Japan

Lis­ten MP3: Side 1 | Side 2

As in Europe and the Unit­ed States, fas­cism was not elim­i­nat­ed in Japan at the end of the Sec­ond World War. FTR-290 high­lights the retrench­ment and per­pet­u­a­tion of the polit­i­cal, indus­tri­al and finan­cial inter­ests that spawned and prof­it­ed from Japan­ese fas­cism. RFA‑7 and FTR-291 ana­lyze the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church of Rev­erend Sun Myung Moon as the per­pet­u­a­tion of the Japan­ese patri­ot­ic soci­eties that empow­ered fas­cism in that coun­try through a wave of polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions. This pro­gram exam­ines the resur­fac­ing of polit­i­cal forces and ideas that had been (to a cer­tain extent) eclipsed in the decades fol­low­ing World War II.

1. Begin­ning with the revival of ultra-nation­al­is­tic sen­ti­ment, the pro­gram exam­ines revi­sion­ist his­to­ry that is being includ­ed in Japan­ese text­books and pop­u­lar lit­er­a­ture. “Hironubu Kaneko, a 21-year-old col­lege stu­dent, remem­bers the pow­er­ful emo­tions stirred in him three years ago when he read a best-sell­ing book of car­toons that extolled, rather than den­i­grat­ed, the his­to­ry of Japan’s for­mer Impe­r­i­al Army. The thick car­toon book, or man­ga, is called ‘On War’ and cel­e­brates the old army as a noble Asian lib­er­a­tion force rather than a bru­tal col­o­niz­er. It lauds Japan’s civ­i­liza­tion as the old­est and most refined. And it dis­miss­es as fic­tions well-doc­u­ment­ed atroc­i­ties, from the 1937 Nan­jing mas­sacre to the sex­u­al enslave­ment of 200,000 so-called com­fort women in World War II. ‘This car­toon was say­ing exact­ly what we were all feel­ing back then,’ said Mr. Kaneko, an eager and artic­u­late stu­dent who is spend­ing his win­ter break work­ing as an intern in the Japan­ese Par­lia­ment. ‘The man­ga was address­ing mattes that many Japan­ese peo­ple have sim­ply been avoid­ing, like we’ve been putting a lid over some­thing smelly. I just felt it said things that need­ed to be said.’ Asked exact­ly what that mes­sage was, he said, ‘That we should not be so masochis­tic about our his­to­ry.’ Unlike such coun­tries as Aus­tria and France, Japan has not had a promi­nent polit­i­cal par­ty that has been aggres­sive­ly nation­al­is­tic since World War II. Ultra­con­ser­v­a­tives from right-wing intel­lec­tu­als to crim­i­nal syn­di­cates have always main­tained dis­creet con­tacts with the con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ing par­ty, the Lib­er­al Democ­rats. For decades after Japan’s defeat in the war, the most vis­i­ble sign of the sur­vival of hard-core nation­al­ists here was just as pow­er­ful a reminder of their fringe group sta­tus: the black sound trucks, most­ly regard­ed as pub­lic nui­sances, that blast­ed impe­r­i­al hymns and xeno­pho­bic speech­es on crowd­ed streets. But as attest­ed by the huge sales of the nation­al­is­tic man­ga — drawn and writ­ten by a best-sell­ing author, Yoshi­nori Kobayashi — Japan’s far right has been elbow­ing its way into the main­stream, at a time when the coun­try is increas­ing­ly dis­tressed about its polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic decline. Mr. Kobayashi’s lat­est man­ga, On Tai­wan, has sold more than 250,000 copies since it was pub­lished in Novem­ber and has cre­at­ed sharp ten­sions with Japan’s neigh­bors for its depic­tion of the war. One frame, for exam­ple, says that Tai­wanese women vol­un­teered to become the sex­u­al ser­vants of Japan­ese sol­diers and that the role even offered the women social advance­ment. The gov­ern­ment has remained silent. But the ambi­tions of Japan’s new right-wing activists go beyond incen­di­ary char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of the war, or mere provo­ca­tion. Although their move­ment is still some­what amor­phous, its wide-rang­ing agen­da includes return­ing to the stricter, more con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues of the past, rewrit­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion to allow Japan to make war, and re-arm­ing so that Japan would be pre­pared to got it alone in a world they depict as full of threats to its sur­vival ... Aki­masa Miyake, a his­to­ri­an at Chi­ba Uni­ver­si­ty, dis­agrees, and has helped orga­nize sem­i­nars for stu­dents to address what oppo­nents of Mr. Kobayashi say are mis­per­cep­tions that the stu­dents have picked up from his work. ‘Since the mid-1990’s, revi­sion­ism, or some would say nation­al­ism, has been surg­ing in Japan,’ he said. ‘There is a feel­ing of emer­gency here, and we are very wor­ried. But for­tu­nate­ly, so far this sort of reac­tionary move­ment has­n’t reached the core of the soci­ety.’ Many of these themes have already been picked up by main­stream politi­cians, how­ev­er, par­tic­u­lar­ly those in the Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. The last two prime min­is­ters, both Lib­er­al Democ­rats, have enact­ed mea­sures aimed at pleas­ing this con­stituen­cy, from mak­ing the Japan­ese flag and anthem legal­ly rec­og­nized sym­bols of the nation for the first time, to cre­at­ing a nation­al youth ser­vice, which crit­ics com­plain is real­ly aimed at preach­ing tra­di­tion­al con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues. Shin­taro Ishi­hara, the strong­ly con­ser­v­a­tive gov­er­nor of Tokyo, has become one of the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar politi­cians in part by sound­ing a xeno­pho­bic alarm about crime by for­eign­ers, and by propos­ing that the Unit­ed States sur­ren­der con­trol over a major air base it main­tains here under a bilat­er­al defense treaty. The new nation­al­ists’ most ring­ing suc­cess, though, has been at rewrit­ing his­to­ry, tak­ing advan­tage of a text­book reform won by lib­er­al intel­lec­tu­als in the 1980’s after two decades of hard bat­tle. The reforms lim­it the staunch­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Edu­ca­tion Min­istry to screen­ing books for fac­tu­al accu­ra­cy instead of writ­ing his­to­ry. But now the far right is rush­ing to put out his­to­ries that many aca­d­e­mics say will white­wash the past. A nation­al­ist group known as the Asso­ci­a­tion to Cre­ate New His­to­ry Text­books has writ­ten a sec­ondary school book that is in the final stages of gov­ern­ment screen­ing. . . . Mr. [Kan­ji] Nishio, a pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Elec­tro-Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Tokyo, has long been active in right-wing intel­lec­tu­al cir­cles, but he nev­er had much impact until his move­ment asso­ci­at­ed itself with Mr. Kobayashi and younger pop­u­lar authors and celebri­ties. Now he has become their guru, say­ing for exam­ple that Chi­na fab­ri­cat­ed the Nan­jing mas­sacre to stir nation­al­ist sen­ti­ment and that the Unit­ed States delib­er­ate­ly snared Japan into war.” (“Japan’s Resur­gent Far Right Tin­kers with His­to­ry” by Howard W. French; New York Times; 3/25/2001; p. 3.)

2. Japan’s new­ly elect­ed Prime Min­is­ter appears to be fol­low­ing in the tra­di­tion of pay­ing obei­sance to Japan’s impe­ri­al­ist and mil­i­tarist past. “[Junichi­ro] Koizu­mi prompt­ed con­cerns about the rise of nation­al­ism in his cam­paign, in which he joined with oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates of the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty in a pledge to vis­it the Yasuku­ni Shrine to war vet­er­ans in Tokyo on August 15, a nation­al memo­r­i­al day.” (“New Leader Says Japan Will Have All-Pur­pose Mil­i­tary” by Howard W. French [New York Times]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/28/2001; p. A11.)

3. Next, the pro­gram reca­pit­u­lates mate­r­i­al pre­sent­ed in FTR-291 about the “May 15th Inci­dent,” dur­ing which the Japan­ese prime min­is­ter was assas­si­nat­ed by mil­i­tary offi­cers asso­ci­at­ed with the patri­ot­ic soci­eties. (This pas­sage of text is repeat­ed lat­er in the broad­cast.) Before pro­ceed­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter’s res­i­dence to mur­der him, his assas­sins vis­it­ed the Yasuku­ni Shrine. In anoth­er indi­ca­tion of con­ti­nu­ity between Mr. Koizu­mi’s gov­ern­ment and Japan’s reac­tionary past, the new­ly elect­ed prime min­is­ter appoint­ed the daugh­ter of a pre­vi­ous Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic prime min­is­ter to be for­eign min­is­ter. “Also wide­ly remarked on was Mr. Koizu­mi’s choice for for­eign min­is­ter, Makiko Tana­ka, the daugh­ter of the late prime min­is­ter, Kakuei Tana­ka, the Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s most fabled pow­er bro­ker. Ms. Tana­ka, who was an ear­ly sup­port­er of Mr. Koizu­mi’s cam­paign, holds her father’s old par­lia­men­tary seat, but has shunned par­ty fac­tions, and shares the new prime min­is­ter’s pas­sion for change. She was expect­ed to win a cab­i­net post, but the for­eign min­is­ter’s job came as a sur­prise to many because of her rep­u­ta­tion for blunt­ness. Ms. Tana­ka-who speaks Eng­lish well, attend­ed high school in Penn­syl­va­nia and at 57 is a rel­a­tive youth in her par­ty-will have the task of han­dling the del­i­cate rela­tion­ship with Wash­ing­ton and Japan’s ties with the rest of Asia. Japan’s rela­tions with its neigh­bors are often cloud­ed by its behav­ior dur­ing World War II. South Korea, for exam­ple, recent­ly recalled its ambas­sador from Tokyo to protest new school text­books the Kore­ans feel gloss over Japan’s harsh occu­pa­tion.” (“Japan’s New Cab­i­net Breaks Hold of Tra­di­tion­al Polit­i­cal Fac­tions” by Howard W. French; New York Times; 4/27/2001; pp. A1-A22.)

4. Next the pro­gram reviews infor­ma­tion about Ms. Tanaka’s father and his alleged con­nec­tion to the mys­te­ri­ous “M‑fund” dis­cussed in FTR-290. “But if that looks sus­pi­cious, the oth­er expla­na­tion is far stranger and begins in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, when Japan invad­ed its Asian neigh­bors and loot­ed vast wealth. After the Sec­ond World War, U.S. intel­li­gence forces secret­ly seized this wealth and lat­er used it to finance covert anti-Com­mu­nist oper­a­tions — pay­ing bribes, for exam­ple, to rightwing mem­bers of Japan’s Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Schlei told the Flori­da court that in the post­war U.S. ‘we came to feel that [such pay­ments] were OK because the Rus­sians were sub­si­diz­ing the com­mu­nists and social­ists.’ In the 1960’s, the U.S. returned con­trol of this fund — called the ‘M‑fund’ — to Japan. Japan­ese politi­cians, such as Kakuei Tana­ka, a for­mer finance min­is­ter and lat­er prime min­is­ter, grabbed it, stole large sums and used it for their per­son­al use and to buy polit­i­cal sup­port with bribes. ‘For 25 years Tana­ka was known as the mon­ey man of Japan­ese pol­i­tics. My clients say the rea­son he had so much mon­ey was he got con­trol of this M‑fund,’ Schlei said. In the 1960’s, Tana­ka tried to hide some of the fund by buy­ing JGB’s and reg­is­ter­ing them in the name of his crones and sup­port­ers. But in 1976, he was sucked into a cor­rup­tion scan­dal and con­vict­ed of receiv­ing bribes from the U.S. Lock­heed com­pa­ny. In the fol­low­ing years, his cronies want­ed extra mon­ey and, in the late 1970’s, the Tana­ka clique decid­ed secret­ly to print what have become the dis­put­ed cer­tifi­cates as part of a com­plex finan­cial scheme.” (“Mis­chief or Con­spir­a­cy?” by Gillian Tett; Finan­cial Times; 4/7–4/8/2001; p. 10.) (In addi­tion to Tana­ka, Yoshio Kodama was deeply involved with the Lock­heed bribery scan­dal. Kodama had been interned by the Amer­i­cans as a war crim­i­nal at the end of World War II. Like anoth­er Japan­ese fas­cist, Ryoichi Sasakawa, Kodama had been deeply involved with the Japan­ese patri­ot­ic and ultra-nation­al­ist soci­eties that brought fas­cism to Japan. Both Kodama and Sasakawa were deeply involved with Rev­erend Sun Myung Moon’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Church.)

5. The first side of the pro­gram con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of the deep eco­nom­ic trou­bles that beset Japan (and which could have dras­tic and neg­a­tive effects in the Unit­ed States.) “For Japan’s reform-mind­ed new gov­ern­ment, the cen­tral eco­nom­ic chal­lenge is that almost any­thing it does to try to fix the long-term prob­lems of an out-of-con­trol bud­get deficit and a wob­bly bank­ing sys­tem will almost cer­tain­ly exac­er­bate the coun­try’s imme­di­ate woes and risk push­ing the econ­o­my into a new reces­sion. . . .Ana­lysts . . . hailed the choice of Heizo Tak­e­na­ka, an out­spo­ken econ­o­mist at Keio Uni­ver­si­ty in Tokyo, as eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy min­is­ter. But he has no expe­ri­ence pulling the levers of gov­ern­ment, and his advo­ca­cy of harsh reme­dies for Japan’s eco­nom­ic ail­ments is like­ly to col­lide with polit­i­cal con­cerns over elec­tions in three months. Already, Mr. Koizu­mi, the new prime min­is­ter, has denied that thee will be an increase in the much-hat­ed con­sump­tion tax, which is one of Mr. Tak­e­naka’s chief pre­scrip­tions. The appoint­ment of Masajuro Shiokawa, 79, as finance min­is­ter was per­haps the biggest dis­ap­point­ment in the cab­i­net line­up, and cur­ren­cy traders raced to sell yen.” (“A New Pol­i­tics of Pain: Japan’s Tough Eco­nom­ic Repair­men” by Stephanie Strom; New York Times; 4/27/2001; p. C1.) If the Japan­ese econ­o­my wors­ens, it could exac­er­bate the coun­try’s drift toward fas­cism.

6. His­tor­i­cal­ly, of course, the dras­tic social con­di­tions brought on by severe eco­nom­ic hard­ship have had a desta­bi­liz­ing effect on democ­ra­cies. The sec­ond side of the pro­gram begins with a read­ing of an arti­cle from the British anti-fas­cist mag­a­zine The Search­light. The arti­cle begins with dis­cus­sion of recent state­ments by for­mer prime min­is­ter Mori that are rem­i­nis­cent of the rhetoric of wartime Japan.

“. . . . Symp­to­matic of the recent revival of the nation­al­ists’ respectabil­i­ty have been sev­er­al ‘slips of the tongue’ by Prime Min­is­ter Yoshi­ro Mori. In a speech to Lib­er­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (LDP) sup­port­ers in his native Ishikawa Pre­fec­ture in June 2000, Mori called for ‘jugo,’ lit­er­al­ly ‘behind the guns,’ sup­port. Japan­ese mil­i­tarists used the term dur­ing the Sec­ond World War to encour­age women to sup­port the war effort of sol­diers fight­ing over­seas by tak­ing care of the chil­dren and fam­i­ly on the front. . . . This fol­lowed an ear­li­er remark that caused deep­er and more wide­spread out­rage, even from part­ners in his coali­tion gov­ern­ment. Speak­ing to a gath­er­ing of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans belong­ing to Shin­to Sei­ji Ren­mei, a polit­i­cal group of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Shin­to Shrines, Mori declared: ‘We [have made efforts to] make the pub­lic real­ize that Japan is a divine nation cen­ter­ing on the Emper­or. It’s been 30 years since we start­ed our activ­i­ties based on this thought.’ (The Japan Times; 5/17/2000.) The sim­i­lar­i­ty to the wide­ly used wartime tem that exalt­ed the Japan­ese as a ‘divine race’ was not lost on observers. . . . ‘In Japan these days, democ­ra­cy is not far­ing very well. This is a time of dan­ger,’ Mr. Shige­fu­mi Mat­suzuawa, an MP for the cen­tre-right oppo­si­tion Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, told the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle at the time. ‘When democ­ra­cy dete­ri­o­rates, extrem­ism of the right wing often emerges.’ That same year also saw the release of the film Pride-The Fate­ful Moment, which crit­ics see as an apol­o­gy for Japan’s wartime Prime Min­is­ter Gen­er­al Tojo, who was hanged as a war crim­i­nal. (“Japan­ese Nation­al­ism Revives” by Ken­ny Coyle; Search­light; January/2001 [#307]; p. 30; see www.searchlightmagazine.com.)

7. The broad­cast then notes the strong con­nec­tions of fas­cist ele­ments to the LDP, the con­tin­ued pres­ence of vir­u­lent anti-semi­tism in Japan and the activ­i­ties of a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions that are (in effect) mod­ern-day patri­ot­ic soci­eties.

“The links between the far right and the rul­ing LDP are inti­mate, explains Mr. Har­ki Nar­i­na­ka, who has close­ly mon­i­tored their activ­i­ty for sev­er­al years. The LDP always found it use­ful to have teams of street fight­ers on its side dur­ing indus­tri­al dis­putes, against the pow­er­ful Japan­ese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, or to dis­rupt protests against the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence in Japan. There are 2,033 ultra-right orga­ni­za­tions that have sub­mit­ted appli­ca­tions for a polit­i­cal they have a com­bined mem­ber­ship esti­mat­ed by one Ger­man observ­er of around 100,000. By reg­is­ter­ing for polit­i­cal sta­tus, these groups are free to con­duct pro­pa­gan­da and raise funds. Around 500 of them are pure­ly ide­o­log­i­cal asso­ci­a­tions, pub­lish­ing nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­da in var­i­ous. Japan has a dis­turb­ing range of anti-Semit­ic lit­er­a­ture. The Pro­to­cols and The Inter­na­tion­al Jew have been avail­able in Japan­ese since 1934. Recent home-grown addi­tions include The Jew­ish Plan for the Occu­pa­tion of Japan (1984); The 450-year Secret of Jew­ish Aggres­sion against Japan (1995). . . . The Last Warn­ing from the Devil/the Jews: Give Dazed Japan the Fin­ish­ing Blow (1995). . . . Mr. Nar­i­na­ka esti­mates that per­haps 1,000 of these reg­is­tered right-wing groups, with grandiose titles such as Young peo­ple’s Com­rades, Research Asso­ci­a­tion for a Great Japan, Con­gress of Japan­ese Racial Youth, and Steel Hel­met Asso­ci­a­tion, belong to the vio­lent wing of the right. He esti­mates the active mem­ber­ship of this trend to be around 21,000 with around 2,000 gaien­sha vehi­cles. The fleets of pro­pa­gan­da cars, lor­ries and vans is an essen­tial part of the ultra-right’s street tac­tics. . . . There is a loose nation­wide alliance of more than 800 far-right groups known as Zen Ai Kai­gi, the “Nation­al asso­ci­a­tion of Patri­ot­ic Orga­ni­za­tions. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 31.)

8. The broad­cast then turns to the sub­ject of Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa. Kodama, in par­tic­u­lar, is illus­tra­tive of the inter­weav­ing of orga­nized crime ele­ments, Japan­ese ultra-right groups and big busi­ness.

“The links between orga­nized crime and the ultra-right are well doc­u­ment­ed. When the police crack down on yakuza activ­i­ties, gang­sters find it easy to laun­der mon­ey through legal out­lets such as the ultra-right groups, although even here, almost half of the right-wing groups do not sub­mit their accounts as they are legal­ly oblig­ed to do. These murky links can best be illus­trat­ed, Mr. Hari­na­ka argues, by look­ing at a key fig­ure in the pre­war Japan­ese right who forms a direct link to the pol­i­tics of today, the late Yoshio Kodama. His life illus­trates the inter­weav­ing of far right fanati­cism, big busi­ness, orga­nized crime and gov­ern­ment. In the 1930’s, Kodama was active in a vari­ety of polit­i­cal nation­al­ist move­ments such as the Inde­pen­dence Youth Soci­ety, Blood Broth­er­hood, Holy War Exe­cu­tion League, Fed­er­a­tion of Rad­i­cal Patri­ot­ic Work­ers, and Cap­i­tal Rise Asia Acad­e­my, which broke strikes and attempt­ed to assas­si­nate polit­i­cal fig­ures. Despite prison con­vic­tions, Kodama was then con­tact­ed by the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment in the whole­sale loot­ing of Chi­na for raw mate­ri­als for Japan’s war effort. By the end of the war in 1945, his indus­tri­al empire, the Kodama Agency, was worth $175 mil­lion. Fol­low­ing the Japan­ese sur­ren­der, Kodama was list­ed as a Class A war crim­i­nal, yet he served only two years in Toky­o’s Sug­amo Prison. In 1949, he per­son­al­ly direct­ed yakuza gang­sters against a threat­ened strike at the Hoku­tan coal mine. The sec­ond wealth­i­est man in Japan, he bankrolled the LDP at its birth in 1955. In the 1960’s, he teamed up with a then unknown South Kore­an right-winger, ‘the Rev­erend’ Sun Myung Moon, and Ryoichi Sasakawa, a Japan­ese motor boat rac­ing mil­lion­aire. Sasakawa had orga­nized Japan­ese Black­shirts in the 1930’s and once described him­self as the world’s rich­est fas­cist. The three, with the help of South Kore­an intel­li­gence and Tai­wanese dic­ta­tor Chi­ang Kai-Shek, helped form the Asian Peo­ple’s Anti-Com­mu­nist League. The League set up and fund­ed Moon’s Free­dom Cen­ter in the Unit­ed States in 1964. Kodama was chief advis­er for the Moon sub­sidiary, Win Over Com­mu­nism. In 1966, the League merged with the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations to form the World Anti-Com­mu­nist League, a major inter­na­tion­al net­work of fas­cists and anti semi­tes fea­tured many times in the pages of Search­light.” (Idem.)

9. The pro­gram con­cludes with a reca­pit­u­la­tion of the May 15th inci­dent. (Like Kodama, this sub­ject was cov­ered in FTR-291. On May 15, 1932, the Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter [Tsuyoshi Inukai] was assas­si­nat­ed by a con­spir­a­cy hatched by the patri­ot­ic soci­eties, act­ing through a group of young mil­i­tary offi­cers called the Blood Broth­er­hood. “The civil­ian wing of the young offi­cers’ plot was a gang called the Blood Broth­er­hood (Ket­sumei­dan, lit­er­al­ly the Blood Oath Band). Some of them were vicious youths, liv­ing on the bor­der­land where patri­o­tism and crime meet; oth­ers were idle, fanat­i­cal stu­dents. All of them were ide­al­ists, in their way. They were will­ing instru­ments, but they had hyp­no­tized them­selves with slo­gans and they regard­ed them­selves as more than tools. The prospect that the army would become the active force of rev­o­lu­tion had stim­u­lat­ed the patri­ots all along the line, and many cur­rents met in the move­ment which cul­mi­nate on May 15.” (Gov­ern­ment by Assas­si­na­tion; by Hugh Byas; Copy­right 1942 [HC]; Alfred A. Knopf; p. 53.)

10. The offi­cers of the Blood Broth­er­hood, in turn, were asso­ci­at­ed with the Native-Land-Lov­ing School, run by Kos­aburo Tachibana. This school, like oth­ers of its kind, was a direct out­growth of, and vehi­cle for, the patri­ot­ic soci­eties. “Kos­aburo Tachibana was haunt­ed by dreams in his boy­hood and could not decide whether to become a states­man or a gen­er­al or (some­times) sim­ply a good man. He had been born in the pre­fec­ture which after­wards became the site of the naval air train­ing base and the home of the Blood Broth­er­hood, and his birth­place fixed his des­tiny . . . . In 1939, his admir­ers enabled him to estab­lish a school. He called it the Native-Land-Lov­ing School (Aiky­o­juku). Every­body in Japan with a mes­sage to deliv­er or an axe to grind opens a school. . . .Those schools in the hands of the patri­ot­ic soci­eties are at once a method of train­ing young men for strong-arm work and a plau­si­ble excuse for extort­ing con­tri­bu­tions from the rich and timid.” (Ibid.; pp. 63–64.)

11. Two days before the killing of Prime Min­is­ter Inukai, his assas­sins-to-be gath­ered to plan their crime. “Two days ear­li­er, on Fri­day, May 13, two young naval offi­cers had made a two-hour train jour­ney from Tokyo to a place with which they wee famil­iar, the drab coun­try town of Tsuchiu­ra, rail­way sta­tion for the inland naval air base and train­ing school called Kasum­i­gra-ura, the Misty Lagoon. An army cadet and a Tokyo stu­dent accom­pa­nied them. They were met by a teacher of the Native-Land-Lov­ing School, which trained farmer boys in agri­cul­ture and patri­o­tism. They all went to a Japan­ese restau­rant where they were, as usu­al, giv­en a pri­vate room. . . .On Sun­day, the same men met some oth­ers in var­i­ous places in Tokyo and their actions became the May Fif­teenth inci­dent. At five o’clock that Sun­day evening nine naval and mil­i­tary offi­cers of ages between twen­ty-four and twen­ty-eight alight­ed from two taxi­cabs at the side entrance of Yasuku­ni Shrine in Tokyo. The shrine is ded­i­cat­ed to all mem­bers of the fight­ing ser­vices who have died in Japan’s wars. There is no holi­er place in Tokyo.” (Ibid.; pp. 22–23.)

12. Lat­er that day, the con­spir­a­tors gath­ered at the Prime Min­is­ter’s res­i­dence and mur­dered him in front of his daugh­ter-in-law and grand­child. “They found the Prime Min­is­ter, Mr. Inukai, a diminu­tive alert man of sev­en­ty-five. His first name was Tsuyoshi but his friends knew him as ‘Ki.’. . .He was a very small man, quick and fear­less. His goa­tee beard was of a vague gray col­or, which some­how sug­gest­ed, quite erro­neous­ly, that it had once been blond. Late in life he had attained the goal of his ambi­tion and he was intense­ly proud of being the Emper­or’s first Min­is­ter. He led the offi­cers into a room. His daugh­ter-in-law, car­ry­ing her baby, was with him, and one of the offi­cers ‘know­ing what would hap­pen in a few minute,’ as he said at the tri­al, told her to go away, but she stayed. The young men were rather con­fused and some were impressed by the old man’s calm demeanor as he asked them to take off their shoes and sit down and talk it over. He had a cig­a­rette in his hand and he lit it. ‘As I observed,’ said one of the offi­cers in his tes­ti­mo­ny, ‘our leader was will­ing to talk with the Prime Min­is­ter. The group that had gone to the back door burst in, head­ed by Lieu­tenant Masayoshi Yam­ag­ishi, a man of action, car­ry­ing a dag­ger. ‘No use talk­ing,’ said Yam­ag­ishi. ‘Fire!’ The word was shout­ed like an order and they all began fir­ing. One shot the Prime Min­is­ter in the neck and anoth­er, delib­er­ate­ly, in the stom­ach. The Prime Min­is­ter sank on the mat­ted floor and nev­er spoke again. ‘Believ­ing the whole affair was over,’ the offi­cers walked out.” (Ibid.; pp. 24–26.)


One comment for “FTR #296 The Return of the Rising Sun, The Reemergence of Fascism in Japan”

  1. 68th Aniver­ary of WWII. Notable ten­sion in Asia.
    In Japan the war dead con­tin­ue to be hon­ored at the con­tro­ver­sial Yasuku­ni Shrine.


    “The past is nev­er dead and bur­ried. It isn’t even past.” As Dave Emory has most accuarate­ly and appro­pri­ate­ly para­phrased William Faulkn­er.

    Posted by GK | August 15, 2013, 9:30 pm

Post a comment