Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Enough, Already...

It seems not a day goes by that I don't come across a headline from somewhere bemoaning "Japan's rising nationalism". Here's one today, "Japan's rising nationalism may isolate it in East Asia" by Francis Fukuyama in which the usual "dirt" on Japan and its alleged goals of world domination is carted out: Yasukuni Shrine, Japan's failure to accept responsibility for its actions during the war, Shintaro Ishihara, and Japan's wish to revise Article 9 of its constitution (which forbids it from having a military).

It may come as a shock to the idiots penning these little diatribes, but not one these things is evidence of "rising nationalism" in Japan, and the last one (regarding the constitution) is just plain laughable. Yes, the Japanese government would like to have a "real" military, just like every other country in the world. Wow! The Japanese government would like to protect itself, to fulfill its obligations as a member of the UN, to step out into the real world. Absolutely appalling.

Now, there's no doubt that the first three items are troubling, but again, they hardly constitute proof of some dangerous upturn in nationalism. Japan has more than its fair share of "apologists" and "deniers", and some of them are in powerful positions. This is, however, hardly a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. Nor is this pre-war Japan, but rather it is a democratically governed country. To anyone who spends more than five minutes here it's as clear as day that typical Japanese are so peace-loving that most of them are against changing the constitution (a constitution that, by the way, was written by Americans with American interests in mind).

Do the people who write these articles ever even bother to read any of the major papers here? Is there evidence in the editorial pages that Japan is beginning to bang the drums of war? Of course there isn't. (Anyone looking for overt signs of nationalism might be better served checking some of the major dailies of South Korea and China.)

Enough, already.


  1. It's truly unfortunate that the western media takes the sensationalized bullshit that people like Norimitsu Ohnishi of the NYT write for granted, rather than actually investigating the facts. Foreign journalists see the black trucks with loudspeakers in front of major train stations in Tokyo and fail to realize that nationalism is pretty much dead in this country; if the country was overtaken by a new wave of nationalism, why would those black truck dudes have to resort to a desperately audio-spamming people with their messages?

  2. James, thanks for your comment, I think we probably have similar views on this and other things related to Japan. I think your point about the sound trucks is probably right on the money. (I used to find them a little un-nerving, until one day I realized that their "theme" music was the same as Godzilla's. Now I find them kinda loveable, in a goofy kinda way!)

  3. Japan knows pretty well the cost of war with scarce natural resources and the price of peace after a colonialism period. Whoever thinks they're imitating, as you said, China or Korea, doesn't know what this country really is.

  4. Usual Stuff, sometimes the western media tends to latch onto something and turn it onto some kind of universal statement about Japan (and probably other countries).

  5. As Chomsky would point out, the people writing these articles know full well what their doing. Nationalism, rather than Communism or Islam, has been what US foreign policy has been designed to stamp out since at least 1950. It starts with op-ed pieces in the NYT, and ends with cluster bombs.

  6. Hi John, yeah it certainly seems sometimes as if there's a "do as I say, not as I do" principle involved here. I sometimes get the impression that these guys just read each others articles for "source" info...