Tamogami's testimony stirs hornets' nest in Diet


Toshio Tamogami was sacked as the Air Self-Defense Force’s chief of staff on Oct 31 after he wrote a controversial essay denying Japanese aggression against other Asian nations before and during World War II. He claims that it is wrong to say that Japan was an aggressor country during that period in history. On Nov 11, he was invited to the Diet to give unsworn testimony.

“I have never thought that what I wrote in the essay is wrong,” Tamogami proudly said during his testimony. “We ( SDF members) also have the right to free speech and expression as provided by the Constitution. Yahoo Japan's online survey shows 58% of people support my views.”

Tamogami said his essay is no different from the views expressed in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who expressed regret over Japan's wartime actions and colonial rule. Murayama's view is currently expressed and repeated as the government's official view on the war. After his testimony, Tamogami said to reporters,“Murayama's view has been revealed as a tool for suppression of free speech.”

The scandal, however, has actually exposed a close relationship among politicians and a conservative support group. It was hotel and condominium developer Apa Group that organized the essay contest under the theme ''True Modern Historical Perspectives." Of the 235 participants in the contest, 94 were from the ASDF. The high ratio has fueled suspicion that ASDF personnel authored and submitted essays on the political theme in an orchestrated way. Tamogami won the top prize of 3 million yen in the competition. Apa is well known for actively supporting conservative political movements.

“Did you, Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, and Toshio Motoya, Apa Group president, attend a party on Sept 15 in 2004?” LDP politician Masakatsu Koike asked Tamogami during the testimony. Tamogami said yes.

Apa Group published a monthly magazine in 2004, criticizing Japan's so-called “masochistic view of history,” with a photo of the participants in the party.

Motoya, who backs conservative politicians such as former PM Shinzo Abe, told Shukan Post: “Yes, Mr Tamogami and Mr Hatoyama attended the party. We, however, have never received any complaints from Mr Hatoyama about the magazine content. We invited him because he is a former LDP politician and has a solid philosophy.”

“I have never supported Tamogami," says Toshiyuki Shikata, professor at Teikyo University and former head of the Ground Defense Force North District Headquarters. "However, the controversy he provoked about Japan's wartime responsibility and SDF issues is something that Japanese politicians have avoided discussing for a long time. Instead of seriously discussing the Constitution and the right of collective defense, they have been relying on the United States for national defense and on Murayama's view without thinking these issues through by themselves.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

“Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?” by Toshio Tamogami – Apa Group website (PDF file)

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Everybody should enjoy free speech, say something stupid and get sacked.

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FYI, if you're not interested in financially supporting people like this, APA GROUP operates the following businesses: Apaman Shop (real estate) Apa Hotel Apa Mansion, etc. Nihon Kaihatsu Finance

I'm glad I didn't use Apaman for finding an apartment this time around. Good riddance.

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FYI, Apa Group has nothing to do with Apaman Shop. Different companies and no capital relationships.

What's important in this discussion is Tamogami talked about something taboo in Japan: more active defense policy. The reaction to him in Japan is something like one to criticism against nuclear bombing over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the US. If someone criticizes A-bombs over Japan, Americans try to desperately justify it.

I'm not talking about Tamogami's claim is right or wrong. I'm not talking about A-bombs were right or wrong. I just want to say even democratic countries have something dominant and something taboo in public dialogue and ideology.

Montaigne said, “Every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; it is indeed the case that we have no other criterion of truth or right-reason than the example and form of the opinions and customs of our own country.”

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Ok, aside of our personal opinions on the past, lets remember some facts:

1 - J culture avoid public debate of toxic topics. Open and loud disent is not easely accepted. Is a group consense decision system.

2 - That SOME (big remarks on some) people that demand freedom of opinion for Tamogami is the same people that want to denay teachers silent protest in schools.

3 - Some people that say that others points of view must to be taked in acount when is about ultraconservaative views, are also know for try to minimize or eliminate talk about war crimes or responabilities in school history text books.

4 - Tamogami as an ex-important member of the J's SDF generated controversial diplomatic problems for J and teachers generate controversial problems in J.

If we are really going to talk about freedom of spech I think that we also must to talk about making lists of teachers that dont stand and sing the anthem. Because both things are the same, about personal disent with the administration views. Be a conservative or be a liberal. I think that some of we need to start to face our own double standars, talking about freedom of spech only when support our views and remain silent when is about the oposite views. What do you think?

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good post! I doubt Tamogami & his ilk wud want free speech to go both ways.


It wasnt his views on a more active defense policy that got him in trouble it was his rather poor understanding of havoc Jpn caused in the 1930-40`s that got him sacked. His problem isnt free speech(he clearly has no idea what it even means) but the consequences of his speech, which was free btw.

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Tamogami is a racist, ethnocentric fruitcake, who rightly got the boot for his depraved views of Japanese history. he is a product of the education system here, which has lied to young Japanese for decades. frightening that 58% of Japanese seem to agree with him - but then, that, too, is hardly surprising. They are all brainwashed.

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Wrong lovevictim, this man is the equivalent of a Holocaust denier. It's one thing to have an opinion on the atom bomb, it's another to rewrite history and conspire to deny atrocities. Japan never had a reckoning like Germany did - there deniers are seen as criminal extremists and in fact represent less than a percent of the population. That's why attitudes are so different.

Defensive policy is something completely unrelated. Why can't a rational person accept that atrocities have happened while at the same time believe Japan should change the protocol for when self defence force can be used?

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Tamogami is totally wrong, Japan was an aggressor alright.

But its actions in Asia were quite within the norm of that time and nothing worse than what the US did in the Philippines, Hawaii, Central/South America, Viet Nam or what Europeans did everywhere. The apology made by Murakami and other J-premiers are a lot more than what others had done to former colonies.

US school textbooks do not teach the tortures the US military openly used against philippinos in order to take over the Philippines from Spain or why the US had the huge fleet in the Pearl harbor (hello! it's in Hawaii).

The whole world used to be devided into either the strong/colonial masters or the weak/colonies. I'm sure most Japanese still feel they did make the right choice fighting back the wave of the invading,colonizing forces so hard rather than surrender to them or watch them take over the whole Asia on the sideline.

Since Japan hated and resisted becoming a colony that much, of course they feel bad for those who fell into that state.

But why all other countries in Asia didn't fight back all those invading Europeans? As much as I think Japan was clearly an AGGRESSOR, those colonized were COWARDS.

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He's not the equivalent of a holocaust denier. Yu can't deny what you don't know.

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I want to hear more about this. This is important.

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Yahoo Japan’s online survey shows 58% of people support my views.”

Finally, his research source revealed!

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Exercise your free speech and boycott Apa.

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The reason 58% of Japanese in one poll agree with him is because of the education they received (actually lack of education that isn't revised) and also because of the continual victimization Japan propels upon its citizens. In diplomacy and politics the politicians here talk big time smack to other world leaders, but to the citizens here its the "We're a small island of little homogenous people hated by the rest of the world". Until open political debate in society - even any kind of political satire - and critical reasoning are taught in school then the same 58% will continue to increase.

I love Japan and the culture and the majority of people are polite, but their critical reasoning amounts to believing everything a teacher, politician, or TV news reader cum analyst says. I have met many here who say, "If its in the Chunichi or on the TV news it must be the truth."

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ptolemy, acoording to your logic, 58% of Japanese agreeing with him means "Japanese believe everything a teacher,politician, or TV news reader cum analyst says"? Wow, could you explain your math?

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Dont care whether Tamogami believes what he says or not. Senior civil servants, that includes the military, are in a position to unfairly influence society. These people are employed to do the donkey work for the government of the day and should not play politics. He deserved the sack.

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He has expressed his views about a group a Japanese still believes. I was no surprised though by his comments. However, I was very shocked one day when a Japanese "educated" person graduated from a very reknown high class Japanese university and one American one, angry told me something that shocked me a lot: Japanese fought in WWII to save Asians from White colonialism... Well, that day I realised that maybe that person was hypocritical with his "White friends" and how possibly some groups of Japanese view WWII. He told me even that ODA was the way to compensate Asian countries and comfort women of Japanese atrocities. What do you think about it?

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FYI, if you're not interested in financially supporting people like this, APA GROUP operates the following businesses: Apaman Shop (real estate) Apa Hotel Apa Mansion, etc. Nihon Kaihatsu Finance

Thanks for the tip. I'll make sure to support these businesses. I hope, the majority of Japanese people will too.

Japan never had a reckoning like Germany did - there deniers are seen as criminal extremists and in fact represent less than a percent of the population.

There is no such thing as a "holocaust denier"; nobody "denies" the holocaust. They are holocaust revisionists, and indeed anyone in Germany (and Austria, France, ...) is jailed for years for publicly questioning any part of that story. We do not want that here in Japan. We do not want one version of history protected by such harsh laws. When a version of history resorts to such legal protection, its a sign that the version in question is bullocks!

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Um, not only are there plenty of people who actively deny the Holocaust and forge evidence to that effect, there is a Wikipedia article that's more than happy to explain it to you:

Have you people been living in a cave? Love your wishful logic.

Moderator: Stay on topic please. The Holocaust is not relevant to this thread.

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