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Dark Cloud on the Rising Sun

[1] [2]

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [3] (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: 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 [4] 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 [5]–imple­ment­ed Japan’s dec­la­ra­tion of war against the U.S. dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.)

In past pro­grams, we have not­ed that–as was the case in Ger­many [6]–Japan­ese fas­cists were put back in pow­er [7] after the war, in order to pur­sue [8] an anti-com­mu­nist agen­da.

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

“In Text­book Fight, Japan Lead­ers Seek to Recast His­to­ry” by Mar­tin Fack­ler; The New York Times; 12/28/2013. [9]

EXCERPT: 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. . . .

“With Shrine Vis­it, Leader Asserts Japan’s Track from Paci­fism” by Hiroko Tabuchi; The New York Times; 12/27/2014. [10]

EXCERPT: 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. . . .

“News Giant in Japan Seen Com­pro­mised” by Mar­tin Fack­ler; The New York Times; 2/3/2014. [11]

EXCERPT: 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. . . .

 “Nation­al­is­tic Remarks from Japan Lead to Warn­ings of Chill with U.S.” by Mar­tin Fack­ler; The New York Times; 2/20/2014. [12]

EXCERPT: 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 NHK, said in a speech [13] 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. . . .