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kuchikomi

Former diplomat fears for future of Japan's democracy

45 Comments

Back in the 1940s, why did Japan opt for disastrous policies that led it to launch an attack against the United States at Pearl Harbor? Looking back on those times, take steel production for example: For every ton of steel Japan turned out, the United States was producing 10 tons. So then why, in spite of how obvious it was to anyone who assessed the situation that it would lead to certain defeat, did Japan make the decision to go to war?

Writing in Nikkan Gendai (Sept 27), former diplomat, university instructor and author Ukeru Magosaki worries that the same short-sighted mentality applies to present-day Japan as well. And he supposes that just as Japanese people today look back at past blunders like the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese in the future will look back at 2014 and ask why their forebears made so many wrong choices.

The first of these is the restart of nuclear power plants. Earthquake-prone Japan is vulnerable to the possibility of a repeat of the same kind of disaster that occurred in Fukushima. The country is presently managing without. Why not continue?

Next, says Magosaki, is the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade agreement being pushed by the United States. According to its provisions, companies that cannot realize a profit have the right to take claims to court, effectively taking sovereignty away from the respective signatory countries.

Third is the policy of collective self-defense adopted by the government. The likely result of its application will reduce the people's purchasing power and living standard. Increases in the consumption tax also jam the brakes on future economic growth.

The weird political situation that came to exist in Japan before the Pacific War was the result of assassinations of numerous political and government figures. In 1913, Moritaro Abe, head of the Political Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, was assassinated by a fanatic youth. Likewise in 1929, Sadao Saburi, ambassador to the Nanjing government, was sent to mend fences with China. He was reported to have committed "suicide," although he was almost certainly assassinated.

Shortly before the assassination of Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai as part of the uprising by a group of 11 young naval officers as part of a failed coup d'etat attempt that took place on May 15, 1932, Inukai had been heard to remark, "Somehow we have to find a way to curb acts of violence by members of the military."

Intimidation by the assassinations resulted in Japanese society's tolerance of violence by the military, with disastrous results.

What is scary, writes Magosaki, is that the present-day social atmosphere is coming to resemble the one existing prior to the Pacific War. People who advocate peaceful approaches are simplistically branded "traitors." When individuals such as the minister of defense make inflammatory statements, society does not demand they be reprimanded for doing so.

People with opinions at variance with the powers that be are divested from the mainstream media. Political figures who take a stance judged to be undesirable are ganged up on by the mass media and subjected to character assassination, with the aim of hounding them out of politics. One recent example would be Governor Hirohiko Izumida of Niigata Prefecture, a vocal opponent of restarting the nuclear power plants. On social media, Izumida posted this request: "If it appears that I were to have committed suicide, that will absolutely not be the case, so please conduct an investigation."

In such a way, Japan has been reverting to the days when political figures felt a sense of physical danger.

Democracy, at present, is producing the continuous creaks and rumbles that typically precede an imminent collapse. Nevertheless, many people continue to support an administration that's leading it toward just that result.

© Japan Today

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45 Comments
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Considering that Japan was never purged of those who were in the government during the war as was done with the Nazi party in Germany, it is not inconceivable that the J gov may revert to their old ways. After all Abe grandfather was Minister of Labor when Japan used slave labor. Though never trialed, he was held as a war criminal until the Korean War change US policy toward Japan. And he became Prime Minister since the U.S. was more worried about communists in Japan than the old regime. As for the U.S. wanting a war with Japan, that is not true but it wasn't unexpected. That is why the fleet was in Hawaii instead of San Diago. The British knew about the attack on Peal Harbor but didn't tell the US since they needed the U.S. to join the fight against Hitler. Japan would have lost sooner but the first 2 year were concentrated in Europe. Also in 1905, Teddy Roosevelt predicted that Japan would attack the U.S. in a future terrible war.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

First of all the US isn't a Democracy but Republic/democracy with the emphasis on Republic and neither is Japan. As to the possibility of hearing war drums out of Tokyo, I will grant it is a possibility considering what's going on in Hong Kong as well as S Korea and Russia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

MASSWIPE "British Japan"? What is so far fetched? As some have commented above, we have a situation now where Japan is to a considerable extent "US Japan." And till recently (when Abe started aping the Westerners - in this Japan is repeating their behaviour of the 1930) the US is printing its forcibly oil backed currency to suck the industrial capacity out of Japan, and China, and everyone else who needs dollars to purchase oil.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Has Japan every really known democracy? Its been said before the reverse course that there was a start up of democracy buts its long been squashed. perhaps squashed is the wrong term, but apathetic attitudes suggest its not worth bothering with.. I think Japanese are happy with the status quo as it is now, as ribstick posted. Conformity and groupthink are held sacred in Japan. They have become comfortable with it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"I guess that this professor is suggesting that Japan should have chosen (2) and retreated from China."

And I guess you're insinuating that in 1941 Japan had to go on treating China like carrion, a giant carcass ripe for the taking in a dog-eat-dog world where retreat by Japan would have resulted a few years later in British, Dutch, and American colonizers carving up Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido like a Christmas Day turkey. Given that the Western powers once and for all had decided earlier in 1900 or so NOT to carve up China the way they had earlier carved up Africa (on the grounds that doing so would have been very hard to do in China, with its much larger population), I've never understood how anybody could imagine FDR, Churchill, and de Gaulle sitting around a table in the 1940s and divvying up the territory of Japan, a country far more militarily and economically advanced than China had been a few decades earlier.

We'll never know what would have happened had Japan given in to American-led pressure in 1941, but I've always found it far-fetched and ridiculous to argue that "British India" would have soon been joined by "British Japan" as a colonial holding full of abject, miserable Japanese natives seeing the industrial capacity of their country sucked dry by mercantilistic British trade practices. But this argument will never die among the revisionists, I suppose.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

While Japan's declaration of war against the US was clearly insanely suicidal (as any sensible observer could see at the time), the war is now over and belongs in the history books. It was a generation ago, for heaven's sake, so for people to continue berating Japan for it and expecting continued apologies is just pathetic.

Furthermore, while the present government's decisions on issues like nuclear power, TPP, SDF, etc, are certainly open to question and debate, to try to equate these with the attack on Pearl Harbor is so absurdly hyperbolic that it detracts from the credibiity of the entire article.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Someone obviously flunked world history.......

Your country was poor before WW1,

The industrial revolution in the US began way before the start of WW I

But after WW1 became very rich

Please google "1930s Depression"

And there is evidence that USA wanted Japan to start the war.

Evidence on the walls at the Yushukan perhaps, but none from any credible source

They stop food and oil supply and waited for Japan to make a stupid move.

Japan conducted an unprovoked invasion of China in 1937 and the US and other countries responded with non-military sanctions. The US and Japan were in diplomatic negotiations to address those sanctions up until the duplicitous imperial government launched a surprise military attack on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Midway and other areas within the Pacific.

USA was much richer and more advanced country. If USA didn't want a war, USA didn't have to fight. Japan attacked ships and the airport and the port at Pearl Harber. But USA had a choice not to go to a war if USA really didn't want it.

Sometimes you just have to wonder how much guile the far right has.......Japan militarily attacked the US, while diplomatic negotiations were still going on by the way, killing over 3000 Americans, and yet the US had a choice whether to go to war........ Here we have the far right fringe credo in a nutshell - Japan is, and was, always the victim - it was never the instigator and cause of untold millions of deaths and suffering before and during the war. Nanking, the Bataan Death march, comfort women, Unit 731, all the other brutalities and atrocities never occurred. Deny, deny again, then deny some more.......

0 ( +2 / -2 )

sangetsu, Do you know how USA became rich? Your country was poor before WW1, but after WW1 became very rich, and even richer after WW2. And there is evidence that USA wanted Japan to start the war. They stop food and oil supply and waited for Japan to make a stupid move. USA was much richer and more advanced country. If USA didn't want a war, USA didn't have to fight. Japan attacked ships and the airport and the port at Pearl Harber. But USA had a choice not to go to a war if USA really didn't want it. Stop pretending an angel.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

right or wrong, good or bad, we are witnessing the making of history first hand so let's just try and make sure when it's time to hit "print" it will be factually correct instead of the wet dream history books that are in use today and yes this applies equally to Japan and Emmerica

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

sangetsu03 doesn't speak for this American. I would love it if Japan could hold it's own against China, but there is 0% chance of that happening. Anyways, Japan can ask us to leave anytime. The treaties say so.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Good articles are always appreciated. I wonder though if a lot of this historical angst regardless of source is really economic myopia amid oil based systems. Taking that lesson to heart, getting free of nuclear and oil, and Japan will be set free. While hateful people are in any culture, without a target they become powerless. Rob them of their angst and I am hopeful for a future Japan

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Have to applaud the author for his critical views of issues concerning many today. That is how Japan's leadership or union can be made perfect, as it also allow leaders themselves to reflect if they had fall short.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Back in the 1940s, why did Japan opt for disastrous policies that led it to launch an attack against the United States at Pearl Harbor?

As far as I know, the immediate reason for the attack against the US was that US blockaded oil supplies to Japan. The Japanese had three options, (1) Return to a pre-industrial age (2) bow to US pressure and get out of China (3) Attack the US and UK/Dutch held South East Asia to get oil. (1) Was not really an option.

I guess that his professor is suggesting that Japan should have chosen (2) and retreated from China.

Bearing in mind that at the time Western (British, Dutch, US) empire was still covering the globe and that the US occupied or had bases throughout the Pacific, and it was the extent of these conquests that made the UK/US blockade so effective, I guess that rather than seeing US demands as benevolent attempts to protect the poor Chinese, Japanese acquiescence would merely result in the expansion of the Europeans "children of the evil spirit" (Tenskawatawa - he got wiped out).

Were the Japanese wrong? What lessons can be learnt?

One is that reliance on overseas oil puts one in a weak position. This would tend to point to wards the use of nuclear power, and any other energy source that reduces Japanese reliance on other people's oil.

The good professor also argues that Japan is now becoming more violent / less peaceful.

Petrodollar conspiracy theorists would argue that continued US/UK control of the oil producing regions of the world puts the US and its allies in a position where they can tax the rest of the world by printing their oil backed currencies, and funding their armaments for war, and a free lunch, without end. As a US ally or puppet, Japan has joined in the money printing, making BRICs nations work for them for free. Is this peaceful?

(I may agree with condemnation of the TPP. )

4 ( +5 / -1 )

sangetsu03, How many more years do you think US should keep "We're the war winner, and Japan, you're the war loser. So you listen to us" attitude to Japan? SKorea said 1,000 more years. How about USA?

If it is one day per each life which Japan took during the war, how many years might that be? How cheaply do you value life? Such things are hard to forgive, and should never be forgotten.

The moment the death and destruction are forgiven or fogotten is the moment they may be repeated.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Former diplomat fears for future of Japan's democracy

He fears for the Democracy because his party isn't in charge.

Back in the 1940s

The year is 2014 and not 1940. Yes, back in the 1940s many things happened, but that was back in the 1940s.

Lions, tigers and bears! Oh, my! The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Repent evil doers, the end is near, the end is near! Blah, blah and more blah by folks who have zero proof that anything is going to happen.

He fears, hell, many people fear change. Right now Japan is starting to depart from the childish pacifist stance and joining the real world. Of course people who disagree with what is happening have fears, because they disagree with what is happening.

The weird political situation that came to exist in Japan before the Pacific War was the result of assassinations of numerous political and government figures.

Some folks are so lost with their silly false analogies that they couldn't tell fact from fanatsy.

This man is basing his entire argument on very few facts and has strung them together to create an Orwellian future for Japan. Gone is reasoning and logical thinking, those are replaced by the Chicken Little effect.

For every ton of steel Japan turned out, the United States was producing 10 tons. So then why, in spite of how obvious it was to anyone who assessed the situation that it would lead to certain defeat, did Japan make the decision to go to war?

Because back in the 1940s the Military ruled Japan and it's leadership were a bunch of bickering fools that hated each other more than they cared about Japan. When you allow a small group of people who haven't a clue or a care to rule, bad things will happen.

Prime Minister Abe isn't in the same league as Prime Minister (General) Tojo. Anyone who tries paint them in the same picture is just bias against Prime Minister Abe because they don't like him in the first place.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

GalapagosnoGairaishu: What Magosaki is describing is the 群集心理 (herd mentality) of 127 million people, including himself, all feeding off a single, pulsating central brain. When Japanese decide to gravitate to group activity those who fail to fall into line are booted out, or rendered impotent.

Well, there's a couple of good reasons to keep most US forces on Okinawa. (1 - offshore of mainland, 2 - within range of mainland.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that the author hits on some valid points. I feel that these all go back to the Japanese public being largely apathetic towards politics in general. If you were to go down to Hachiko-mae and ask a handful of youths how they felt about Abe's leadership thus far, his policies or thoughts on Japan's diplomatic ties with its neighbours, you'd be met with blank stares. Ask them about what variety programme starts in 30 minutes and they'd give you a full week's worth of TV programming.

Yet, you go out into the country and there's political posters on every street corner. These are the voters, who are mostly old timers with no grasp of modern politics.

The situation will never improve because the old timers are politicians, bureaucrats, business leaders & the voting public. With the government & its secrecy bill, the ultra-conservative & heavily monitored press clubs here, the 'old boys club' bureaucrats, the jaded salarymen... what 'democracy' is there?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@scipantheist

Why would you want to reduce democracy down to "one person one vote"? Voting is only one form of participation, and a very limited one. For democracy to flourish, there must be active participation and for that to happen there must be greater economic equality. Now we find in most nation states that our so-called representatives are beholden to corporate and economic elite, especially so in Japan, which this article is written about.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@ BertieWooster , you snatched my words ( What democracy ? ) It's not OK to cheat their citizenry,but it's a tragedy of biblical proportions for them to expect us to swallow their garbage unchallenged. They went to war with the US because by then Japan had been arming and preparing for the eventual confrontation with the US which they deemed as the biggest impediment to their ambition of colonizing Asia ( Secretly the whole world) with the Yamato being the nucleus( head ) . They knew the US was then still weak. The US military then was equivalent to the Croatian ,the US was still doing drills with cardboard cutout tanks. Japan had conducted various spying missions and had assessed and surmised theu had a chance of victory. Admiral Isoroku Yamamomoto's ( had spent time in US ) stealthy creep on pearl harbor that december 7th was to strike a decisive blow and cripple the US to submission. They were wrong then, they are almost always wrong , but obstinacy is king .

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How many more years do you think US should keep "We're the war winner, and Japan, you're the war loser. So you listen to us" attitude to Japan?

If America pushes its opinions it's because it's a huge economic power, and Japan's primary defence partner. Bringing up the war just flogs the same old tired nationalistic agenda.

The question shouldn't be why does America say "listen to us" - it's why Japan listens to them. Either it really is in the best interests of the country, or stop playing the victim and put your vote in with someone who won't listen.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What Magosaki is describing is the 群集心理 (herd mentality) of 127 million people, including himself, all feeding off a single, pulsating central brain. When Japanese decide to gravitate to group activity those who fail to fall into line are booted out, or rendered impotent. I don't think anything is capable of changing that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sangetsu03, How many more years do you think US should keep "We're the war winner, and Japan, you're the war loser. So you listen to us" attitude to Japan? SKorea said 1,000 more years. How about USA?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan IS a US puppet.

Which is what happens when you attack a much stronger country without a warning or a war declaration, start a war which kills millions, and then surrender "unconditionally." Do these things, and you deserve whatever comes to you. Japan has done much better as America's puppet than they would have done under the Soviets.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Japan IS a US puppet.

Interesting claim - I notice you offer no facts to support it.........

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Japan IS a US puppet.

I always find it interesting that all the virulent anti-US haters have this fascination with puppets......too much time in front of the tele with Sesame Street when they were young perhaps?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

lincolnman,

Japan being a US “puppet”

Japan IS a US puppet.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I kind of agree with the sentiment being expressed, but the specific points don't make a lot of sense and some are factually incorrect. I am not sure if that is just a bad translation, but...

According to its provisions, companies that cannot realize a profit have the right to take claims to court...

This is just factually incorrect. The treaty would give corporations the right to sue governments, but only on the grounds that the government had violated the terms of the treaty and not because they could not realize a profit.

I don't like the provisions which give companies the right to sue based on a treaty, so I think I might agree with his general sentiments, but as a question of fact, this is just incorrect.

Third is the policy of collective self-defense adopted by the government. The likely result of its application will reduce the people’s purchasing power and living standard.

I am again with him in being opposed to the government's policy here, but the connection between collective self-defence on the one hand and a reduction of people's purchasing power on the other is not at all clear. This needs to be explained more because there seems to have been a huge leap in logic that occurred somewhere in there.

The first of these is the restart of nuclear power plants. Earthquake-prone Japan is vulnerable to the possibility of a repeat of the same kind of disaster that occurred in Fukushima. The country is presently managing without. Why not continue?

Not sure that I agree completely here. The country is managing at the moment, but at a very high cost in terms of importing fossil fuels, which have the double whammy of also contributing to CO2 emissions. I would like to see Japan gradually eliminate nuclear in favor of renewables, rather than immediately eliminating nuclear in favor of fossil fuels.

Also, it strikes me that except for collective self-defence, none of these things really have any obvious connection to a renewed militarism or reversion to pre-war times. It more comes off as a random list of questionable policies that the author disagrees with. The problem being that at any given time throughout the past 70 years the government had probably been juggling a set of bad policies which you could make a similar argument about. I just am not fully sold that this stuff bodes anywhere near as ill as the article suggests.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The first of these is the restart of nuclear power plants. Earthquake-prone Japan is vulnerable to the possibility of a repeat of the same kind of disaster that occurred in Fukushima. The country is presently managing without. Why not continue?

The country is not presently managing without. The increase in the cost of imported fuel have helped cause huge trade imbalances which are paid with foreign assets which were carefully acquired over decades. These foreign asset holdings are part of the reason why JGB yields have been so low. If the amount of foreign holdings becomes too low, then perceived risk will rise, along with bond rates, which would be catastrophic to Japan's heavily-indebted economy.

According to its provisions, companies that cannot realize a profit have the right to take claims to court, effectively taking sovereignty away from the respective signatory countries.

Huh? Companies have the right to take claims to court if other countries renege on the intentions of the treaty which result economic harm said companies. Such a clause is necessary, particularly when the treaty includes Japan, which has a long history of quickly erecting non-tariff barriers to prevent free access to their market. The phrase "cannot realise a profit" is disingenuous, because this phrase does not exist in the treaty. There is no point in having a treaty if there is no legal recourse to enforce it, especially if Japan is a signatory.

Democracy, at present, is producing the continuous creaks and rumbles that typically precede an imminent collapse. Nevertheless, many people continue to support an administration that’s leading it toward just that result.

Democracy? How funny is that? Not even in America have we had a real democracy since Jefferson was president. The powers-that-be select the candidates, and the voters get to choose between them. No one from outside the machine is allowed to become a part. Why do you think we have prime ministers who are the sons and grandsons of prime ministers? That the people actually believe democracy exists just goes to show how stupid the world is.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I don't think Japan will be belligerent any time soon. Life is too comfortable and there is no oil for them push forward with an invasion except what they can get on the open market. A modest skirmish with China over bird dropping islands may be possible, but that is about it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In my view this is a pretty poor article – it lacks rigor and clearly shows the author’s bias.

I think you make some decent counterpoints - but I'm unclear how much of this article is interpreting what he says against what he actually wrote, perhaps their is a little more rigour there? But I don't think bias is a problem. It is an opinion piece after all.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You say that like it's a bad thing. Why?

I merely stated a fact based on his previous writings, and made no moral judgment on it. Nothing wrong with being left leaning and anti-US - as long as what you say is accurate, fact-based, and grounded in reality. However, positing wild claims and emotional conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact is a "bad thing"......

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@lincolnman

"... he has a long history of left leaning, anti-US statements."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Why?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Well, I hope folks applauding this article and author have done a little research before canonizing him. If you had, you’d see he has a long history of left leaning, anti-US statements. But let’s put that aside and look at the three main issues that he believes Japan has made the wrong choice on;

One – restarting nuclear power plants. Surprisingly, I agree with him – restarting the power plants, without a thorough reassessment of their safety, and without the consensus of a majority of the populace is just flat wrong, and is merely the LDP catering to the wishes of Japan Inc (the business lobby).

Two - TPP. Here he goes off the rails. As has been pointed out in other articles, Japan was not initially an invited member of the TPP talks – it decided to join only after Keidanren (Japan Business Assoc) used its influence to compel the LDP to request entry. So his assertion that the TPP is being “pushed on Japan” is pure bunk – and consistent with his past fairy tales on Japan being a US “puppet”. What joining the TPP did do, however, was again lay bare the major paradox within Japan’s business community – the direct opposite interests of the industrial and agricultural sectors, and their associated political/bureaucratic sponsors and lobbyists.

Third – that somehow Japan’s recent reinterpretation of collective self-defense will reduce people’s purchasing power and living standard. I haven’t the faintest idea what he is saying here. He provides no argument or rationale how CSD will lower purchasing power or the standard of living – he just makes the statement, plain and simple. I could at least understand if he had said that CSD will result in increased military budgets or syphon money from social programs- but he doesn’t say that….he doesn’t say anything……

Lastly, his assertion that Japan’s present-day social atmosphere is coming to resemble the one existing prior to the Pacific War is an extremely broad exaggeration. I don’t believe the kempetai have started showing up at front doors and hauling people off yet……..

In my view this is a pretty poor article – it lacks rigor and clearly shows the author’s bias.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

@warispeace It has never been stated that everyone needs the same amount of speech to have democracy. "One person one vote" should be sufficient. I agree there are problems with the intersection of money and power, but to say there are no democracies goes too far.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Can we say there is democracy anywhere, other than a few places with a more direct democracy model? Ultimately, capitalism is incompatible with democracy, which requires people to be equal enough economically to be able to participate equally politically. The fact is that the top 85 wealthiest people on the planet have the same as half the world's population or 3.5 billion, the richest 10% of adults have 86% of all wealth, and the top 1% owns 46% of the total. This is clear evidence for this incompatibility.

The article relates clearly how those with wealth and authority in Japan will do anything to hold onto it.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I firmly believe the freedom of speech is both necessary and sufficient for democracy. Reporters without borders says that Japan is 59th in press freedom. Not good, but in the same ballpark as SK and Taiwan.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This guy gets it. Fantastic article

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I kind of agree with him on most points, particularly with the TPP and collective self-defence. However the nuclear power stations should have been restarted a long time ago. Anybody opposed to restarting the nuclear power stations does not care about the future of Japan or the future of the earth.

Only a nitwit can not see that for humanities survival nuclear energy used with renewable energies for our power are the way forward, or at least until hydrogen fuel cells become the norm.

The whole anti-nuclear debate does my head in, because it just so shortsighted.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

It is tempting to draw analogies between Pearl Harbor and the present situation in Japan. While the policies of Abe are going to be disastrous in some way, the Japan of Pearl Harbor is vastly different from today's Japan. As yet we have a democratic government in Japan, faulty as it is, and we do not yet have a fanatic military as we did before Japan's defeat in WWII.

Pearl Harbor was brought on by hubris, and that hubris was predicated on a practically unbroken string of Japanese military imperial successes from the dawn of the Meiji Era. Korea fell. Taiwan fell. Russia lost to Japan. China was easy pickings. Japan was on the right side in World War I. And Japan was loved by the West. That hubris extended throughout the 1930s. At some point Western imperialism was no longer amused with Japan. The alliance with Nazi Germany did not help, of course, but most alarming was that Japan was going after the Western powers' booty and there was blowback. Given that you had people who had come of age in Meiji-Taisho-Showa imperial hubris Pearl Harbor seemed all but inevitable, in spite of some cabin ate ministers' dire warnings, along with the protestations of Hirohito's mother. Just let mighty Japan slap the US on the wrist and those gaijin will behave was what hubris dictated.

The one thing that is missing today is hubris. That went with the bubble. Today we have angst. And that angst is as dangerous as hubris in its own way. The reverse course nationalism of Abe and the LDP is one very troubling symptom--the worst being ticking-off Japan's neighbors by denying past war crimes and worshiping war criminals. The clinging to the worthless, throwing good money after bad in the case of nuclear power and whaling is another symptom. Remilitarization and so-called collective self-defense, Abe's desire to play Pancho to the US's Cisco Kid, is yet another symptom. And artificially crashing the yen and raising the consumption tax in a recession still another symptom.

Much of what Abe is doing has less to do with practical economics and as it does with recovering lost national pride. (Hey, the nation that gave the world the wash toilet has a lot to be proud of.) What is troubling about Abe is his authoritarian bend. Article 9 was for all intents nullified through a cabinet decision--not even a debate in the diet. Abe is a dangerous man. He is not about to pull a Pearl Harbor. He and his cronies will sink Japan slowly--and painfully.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

The military? The meager forces Japan has are no match for any legitimate threat to Japan.

Japan has the second strongest navy in the world (after the US). Being an island nation, this means that their forces most definitely are a match for almost any threat to Japan.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Nothing will change - people have jobs if they really want them, streets are mostly secure, and yes, you are free to say what you want in Japan about Japan without the fear of some henchman dragging you off to the gallows in the middle of the night without a trace.

The nuclear fear is overblown. The tsunami, not the earthquake is what caused the meltdown. TPP - the government will protect businesses from collapse, period - fact of life in J-land. The military? The meager forces Japan has are no match for any legitimate threat to Japan. Conscription? Ain't gonna happen - too many vege-guys or grass-grazers or whatever the term of the week is. I do agree that spending more money on the military is a horrendous waste of taxpayer money, especially when the U.S. has got your back. Let the Japanese men focus on engineering the country into happiness with their robots and cars and gadgets. They also keep the economy afloat by filling the izakayas night after night because going home just doesn't seem that appealing.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

Democracy? Pretty much one party in power for the whole democratic period of Japan. And certain families regurgitated again and again each time with less and less genetic variance. No new ideals, no vision except to whitewash the actions of their families. Repeating an old formula in a new world. 10 years ago all these problems were seen to be on the way and no leadership was shown on any.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

It took a guy with a Phd to figure this out? I thought it was "no duh" to bascily everyone. Take population and immigration for example. The day will come when ghosts towns will riddle Japan. When 80 million people inhabit this shell of an country they will be cursing the old fools in power now for not even considering the possibility of opening immigration even slighty to save Japan. It's exactly like the war! Those in power ask them under them to sacrifice them selves rather than surrender.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

And the truth shall set you free.

Very accurate and honest article. I feel this piece was written by a true patriot that is truly concerned for the future of this country.

28 ( +31 / -4 )

What democracy?

There is very little democracy in Japan.

13 ( +24 / -13 )

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