Saturday, July 14, 2007

Although the nutjobs of Japan's elite

may be leaning (or plummeting) towards the extreme nationalist right, I don't think that at present the average Japanese has much sympathy for such ideas. I have to be cautious and mention that I have not taken a poll, and most Japanese whom I know speak English to some degree and are comfortable around non-Japanese, and as such are not representative of the Japanese people as a whole. My wife is Japanese and she has much harsher words and thoughts about Abe, Ishihara, Aso, Tojo than I do---if that is possible. And her comments on Fujiwara's writing were along the lines of "What kind of idiot is going to read that?" when I asked her to read his comic book last year. Apparently, a large number of folks don't share her views since his masterpiece of idiocy was a best seller here.

One would have to have the utmost faith in the human race, or else believe the nihonjinron nonsense that the Japanese are somehow different as human beings than the rest of the world (and have blind, stupid faith in believing that every belief that the Japanese had pre-WW2 suddenly did a 180 at the war's end) in order to assume that the increasingly incessant nationalistic, far right rhetoric in so many areas of public life will have no influence on the future course of Japan. Most of us would find it hard to believe that Japan would ever repeat the errors of WW2. But then again, Japan's elite rightists increasingly deny that there were errors.

I find it hard to believe that the US repeated some of the errors of Vietnam too. We went into a war on flimsy, exaggerated evidence in the 1960s, and we've done it again. We knew we should not trust the government very far. But we did. And now we want to pretend it wasn't our fault, it was all George Bush's. And the US has a incomparably freer, more aggressive media, and a long tradition of debate, democracy, citizen involvement, and distrust of government. Why would Japan or any other country be necessarily exempt from this type of tragic misjudgment? Moral/cultural superiority or uniqueness? Exceptionalism? Hmmm. Heard something like 'bout the US before. Turned out to be wrong.

Amazingly, as the USA has become more isolated in the world and has taken a more aggressive, go-it-alone, militaristic stance, its relationship with Japan has become closer than at any time in recent history. The US may have hit the wall and seems to be altering course now, but Japan appears to have missed some parts of that lesson. But then again, Fujiwara's elite(?) also seem to have missed the lessons of World War Two.

By the way, Tojo's granddaughter has started her campaign for parliament. She won't win, but she will get a nice platform for her extreme rightwing nutjob views. Folks to the left may have a tougher time.

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