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Japan rightists’ patient wait is over as conveyor belt of death shudders back to life

by

He’s done it.

As this column predicted he would, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gotten his way. Last month he closed a chapter on “pacifist Japan,” ramming through unpopular new security legislation that will allow Japanese military engagement in offensive maneuvers abroad.

That’s it then. The circle is complete. Japan is primed to march back to its pre-World War II systems of governance.

Now, just to be clear: I don’t think there will be another world war based on this. However, I think in a generation or two (Japan’s militarists are patient — they’ve already waited two generations for this comeback), a rearmed — even quietly nuclear — Japan selling weapons and saber-rattling at neighbors will be quite normalized.

Alarmism? Won’t Japan’s affection for war-renouncing Article 9 forestall this? Or won’t the eventual failure of “Abenomics” lead to the end of his administration, and perhaps a resurgence of the opposition left? I say probably not. We still have a couple more years of Prime Minister Abe himself (he retained the Liberal Democratic Party leadership last month unopposed). But more importantly, he changed the laws.

So this is not a temporary aberration — this is legal interpretation and precedent, and it’s pretty hard to undo that (especially since the opposition left is even negotiating with the far-right these days). Moreover, Japan has never had a leftist government with as much power as this precedent-setting rightist administration does. And it probably never will (and not just because the U.S. government would undermine it, a la the Hosokawa and Hatoyama administrations of the 1990s and 2000s).

But there’s something deeper at work beyond the “Abe aberration.” I believe that social dynamics encouraging a reverse course to remilitarization have always lain latent in Japanese society.

Consider a few of Japan’s martial aspects, both overt and covert: chōnaikai neighborhood associations that mobilize and monitor the neighbors; senior-subordinate relationships that enforce constant and perpetual social hierarchies; an extreme work ethic that glorifies self-sacrifice; political invective that dismisses human “rights” in favor of state-determined “duties”; cultural memes that denigrate individual choice and free will as “selfish”; and even young schoolchildren and teens in uniform marching in formation at their sports festivals.

Have you ever wondered why Japan still lives under the shadow of World War II — unlike Germany, which made a cleaner break and disavowed its prewar systems? Because Japan’s (largely untouched) prewar ruling elites were always looking for a means to return to them, and kept the fundamentals in place.

Now all that’s necessary is to find a way to glorify the corporal sacrifices of human beings again. But that’s in place too.

Ever considered why Yasukuni Shrine exists — beyond the respect for fallen soldiers, I mean? In Japan, it goes beyond historical monuments like America’s Arlington Cemetery (which it is often compared to), because of the element of ancestor worship.

Brace yourself for a little pointy-headed theory about how societies deal with war: War memorials, etc., are a means, in essence, to deny death. The people who die on battlefields must live on, remembered positively, so families don’t feel that their kin died in vain.

If this doesn’t happen, then someone gets blamed for sending them meaninglessly off to war. That would be The State. So if The State doesn’t want revolution, it had better find a means to deflect society’s anger, pain and feelings of injustice for killing loved ones.

Solution: Glorify them in song, monument and, in Japan’s case, shrine. Deify them.

Yasukuni Shrine is designed to offer a venue to worship self-sacrifice and thus further national goals. As academic Akiko Takenaka recently wrote in Japan Focus, “Death was presented in a positive light in order to sustain a level of enthusiasm to support wars.”

Of course, glorification happens in all societies as they seek to make sense of state-sponsored death. But deification goes beyond glorification.

As I mentioned last month, Japan’s ancestor worship silences critical thinking. Finding fault with gods is blasphemy, so don’t vocalize.

Then there’s the forgiveness and forgetfulness of the gods’ misdeeds. Yasukuni’s pantheon includes the creators, sponsors and promoters of Japan’s prewar national goals — goals that put Japan, its colonized and its enemies on a conveyor belt bound for death.

That conveyor belt rumbled through the frontiers of inhumanity: the Nanking Massacre, Bataan Death March, Unit 731, an imperial army financed by opium, institutionalized sexual slavery, the sacrifice of Okinawan civilians — I could go on.

Plus, deification fosters revisionism and doublespeak. Abe’s retelling of history in his speech in August blanketed WWII atrocities under a shroud of martial exigency interwoven with victimhood. He even argued that Japan is now at peace because of the sacrifices of its war dead.

That’s why the postwar victors and victims initially tried to take Japan’s military away and enshrine pacifism in the Constitution: They saw that the martial model that organizes Japanese society was simply too strong.

Sadly (and notwithstanding a change of heart by the U.S. hegemon), they failed. Nevertheless, they were assured in good faith that Japan’s military would be used only for self-defense. As of last month, not anymore.

Postwar social reconstructionists also tried to quarantine Yasukuni as the epicenter of worship of Japan’s militarism. They failed again. It has resurged with a vengeance as hallowed ground for government leaders, with annual military grandstanding and increasingly bolder belligerence. One of Japan’s most popular leaders (former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara) overtly tried to provoke a war with China — and remained in office!

So listen as the conveyor belt of death clicks back on. Now that Japan can start sending its youth back into harm’s way, how will the public react when people start getting killed?

I say: positively. By design. First, their missions (largely peacekeeping ops in the beginning) will be opaque to the public, thanks to recent legislation designating them as “state secrets.” Then, as the body bags return and the mood threatens to tip toward anger and pacifism, the state-run media will herald the fallen as heroes.

Then the pity for the victims will be converted into national pride. Those people sacrificed themselves for the good of the kuni (country) of Japan. And think of the honored superlative — “the first people deified after two generations”!

The minority denouncing this as a tragedy will be the ever-disorganized leftists in Japan — who will be ignored or painted as unpatriotic and disrespectful. How dare they speak ill of the dead?

The public face of the debate — the next of kin — with then be pressured by their neighbors not to be selfish and draw attention to themselves. It was a matter of duty. So don’t spoil things. Just accept the honor given you stoically.

This sort of dynamic has been found in plenty of other societies with war as an outlet. But will a threshold be reached, as it was, say, in America halfway through the Vietnam War?

I think not, regardless of Japan’s 70 postwar years of peace.

Why? Not just because of those latent martial tendencies buttressing the conveyor belt. Postwar safeguards against remilitarization are also being eroded at the intellectual level.

For example, why do you think the government is trying to do away with liberal-arts education at Japan’s universities? Because these subjects foster critical thinkers. They teach “leftist” ideas such as questioning authority, and seeing The State and corporatism in terms of potential abuses of power. The administration doesn’t like skilled arguers or independently minded people, since Japan’s rightists cannot stomach their ideas being subjected to critique or public debate. They’ll even denounce peaceful demonstrators as “terrorists.”

But even if the people on the street make compelling arguments, in the end I think it’s too late. As I said, Abe’s done it. With this new security legislation, he reactivates the divine aspects of Japan as a nation-state.

The next step is to put soldiers on the conveyor belt and feed them to the sacrificial altar of Yasukuni. It’s a mobilization of death: The more die, the more gods are created, and the more enforced reverence accrues to the war effort. Remember, it happened before — unstoppably — for two prewar generations. It can happen again.

So I say: Get ready, everyone. Japan, as you’ve gotten to know it over your lives, is over. Barring a peace-inducing black-swan event, here comes the ruthless, duplicitous and scary elite-run Japan of your great-grandparents. Over time, it will revive the pain and suffering it inflicted on people both within and without.

Debito’s forthcoming book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” has just gone to press. Akiko Takenaka’s Japan Focus article on the mythology behind Yasukuni Shrine is at japanfocus.org/-Akiko-TAKENAKA/4377/article.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday Community Page of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Bec

    Debito Arudou. You can live in Japan, have a Japanese name, write books about Japanese people, but you’re still an outsider, Westerner writing from a Westerners perspective about Japanese people! JapanTimes I was expecting better then this!

    • letteradegree

      Despite the name of this Japan Times section being “Community”, he doesn’t actually physically live in Japan anymore. He lives in the “virtual internet community” of people who used to live in Japan and keep telling people that in their resumes despite their connections to Japan getting thinner and thinner as the years pass by.

    • Toolonggone

      I don’t care what gripe you have about an author, but if you expect something “better” for the reason you describe above, you will find yourself wasting time coming here to read JT articles–especially in community page section. It’s not the space for Japologist cheerleaders. Same as pathetic online charter cheerleaders trying to crash in the blogs/articles of educators to the detriment of silly argument.

      • Bec

        Its funny that you say that because a lot of people seem to agree with me!!
        The author has a Japanese souding name! Lives in Japan! Writes books about Japanese people! But his a westerner in disguise!! Bashing Japan for having a normal military like Germany or the rest of the world!!

      • Toolonggone

        Again, attributing an author of being “outsider” is a typical behavior. NOTE: I am not limiting to an author of JBC, per se, but virtually anyone who is likely to be labeled based on your standard. A typical behavior shared by some Japanese who like to welcome you with pejorative term “Gaijin.” for being different. Funny, isn’t it?

      • Bec

        You missed completely the point that we are trying to make!!
        It’s fine if you are a Gaijin like you call them in your previous comment! But don’t try to pretend that your Japanese! Or write your articles like you were born in Japan! Or understand the Japanese mentality!! Who have not attacked another country in 70 years!! The Constitution has changed for a good reason!! You have the danger of a nuclear armed North Korea and an aggressive China towards several other countries in Asia as well!! He’s very anti Japan having a normal military, but I don’t see him complaining about Germany sending troops overseas or having a military again!! I don’t see Germany having to apologize year after year, or other Western countries who have done much worse than Japan!! If you want to speak the truth you would be shocked at what we can find!!

      • Toolonggone

        I am not pretending. I am Japanese, born and raised in Japan.
        Sorry, you’re wasting your time talking a lot of nonsense.
        None of your personal beef has anything to do with my concern.
        Bye.

      • Bec

        Then you should read the comments more carefully before posting!! We are talking about the author of this article!! Debito Arudou!! Who writes a lot of anti Japanese propaganda and pretends to understand the history and mentality of the Japanese!! While not even being Japanese!!

      • Toolonggone

        > you should read the comments more carefully before posting!!

        Exactly my point. I made it very clear I don’t care whatever issue you have against the specific author–except for the reasoning you make.
        And I said, “I am not limiting to an author of JBC, per se, but virtually anyone who is likely to be labeled based on your standard.”

        And you started barking at me with your phony “insider/outsider” dichotomy. All I can see is that you sitting in front of the gate keeping barking like a mad dog since my very first reply.

      • Bec

        My standards is not to pretend to be someone that you’re not!! So many people had the same issue with the author!! You clearly do not understand why we have problems with this article!! What I said about the author has a lot to do with it!!
        Since apparently you don’t have any standards either, and enjoy people bashing Japan, you should move out!! You should feel ashamed for allowing Westerners to say things against Japan without correcting them!! But, to feel shame it would mean that you have to care about Japan in the first place!!

      • Toolonggone

        > you should read the comments more carefully before posting!!

        Exactly my point. I made it very clear I don’t care whatever issue you have against the specific author–except for the reasoning you make.
        And I said, “I am not limiting to an author of JBC, per se, but virtually anyone who is likely to be labeled based on your standard.”

        And you started barking at me with your phony “insider/outsider” dichotomy. All I can see is that you sitting in front of the gate keeping barking like a mad dog since my very first reply.

      • Toolonggone

        I am not pretending. I am Japanese, born and raised in Japan.
        Sorry, you’re wasting your time talking a lot of nonsense.
        None of your personal beef has anything to do with my concern.
        Bye.

  • tisho

    Let me offer another perspective, looking at the situation in terms of economics. First of all, the situation we are in now is completely different from what is was back then. One must remember that today China is the largest economy in the world, while still growing rapidly. It has bee estimated that within the next 30 years, China’s economy is going to become the size of America and Europe.. combined. We are talking about an extremely powerful economy, and in the 21th century, economy is all that matters. Military is not needed anymore. The United States can literally, or perhaps COULD literally bankrupt the entire South America with one phone call, no need for the military to step in. Within the next 30 yeas, China is going to be able to do the same. So from an economic point of view, Japan is not going to be able to do anything against China, even if it militarizes, it doesn’t matter, China can shut down Japan’s economy with one phone call, not today though.. not yet, which is why Abe is in such a rush to contain China today, while Japan still has some leverage.

    Also, i think the change in the constitution was all about allowing Japan to sell weapons, because Abe is in difficult situation to make the economy grow again. He does everything America do. He prints money out of thin air in order to stimulate the consumption, but he is only increasing the debt and not creating any real economic growth, all the jobs created in Japan in the past years are all part time jobs, no full time employment. Real growth comes only from production, not consumption. Abe wants to change the constitution in order to have another source of revenue – weapon sells, but also in order to help America ”contain” China.

    The life time employment is not coming back, i can tell you this for certainty. In a highly globalized economy, where competition is extremely intense, free trade deals are essential, Japan can no longer close its economy if it wants to grow, Abe needs the economy to grow in order to stay in power, if the economy is not growing, people will be not happy with him. In order to keep the economy growing, you need to open your economy to free trade with other countries, which instantly create too much competition in the domestic market of Japan to force any person stay in one company for a life style, you need productivity, and life time employment is not productive for a company.

    Also, the removal of liberal art from public universities was i think a good idea, and again this decision was made from a completely economic point of view. Liberal art is completely useless, there is no market demand for this, if there was market demand for this subject, there would be more demand, and therefore the private universities would supply it, but there isn’t any demand, so it was just a waste of money. If a demand is created, the private schools will supply it. Also, liberal arts has existed in Japan’s public universities for decades, and i don’t think it has made any difference in the culture at all. I think the internet and free trade has made more positive change.

    Lastly, i don’t know what is going to happen in the years to come, but my prediction would be that, Abe will continue to print more money and inflate the entire economy, then, then US stock market completely crushes because the US are doing exactly the same mistake, the US dollar will lose all it’s value, the Japanese economy will fall in a very deep recession, many companies will leave the country for a more business friendly countries such as China, Abe will out of office, and then.. i HOPE a new economically literate government will come, and let the free market sort its problems without interfering.. if not, then the economic crisis in Japan will continue, more and more Japanese will leave the country, and the standards of living will go down very fast. The right wingers will increase, because whenever there is an economic problem, people looking for somebody to scapegoat, it will probably be all the foreigners, China, Korea, America.. who knows, but regardless, they’re not going to be able to do anything militarily.

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  • Liars N. Fools

    Very unconvincing. The Japanese will not return to the fanatical militarism of the Meiji and Showa Restoration era. The Emperor no longer serves as a symbol, and there is no chaos of rural poverty (from whence the disaffected radical officers came) and no assassinations of zaibatsu heads nor government ministers. Scandal and corruption still exist, of course, but there are other recourses. Plus old age ravages Japan.

    That’s domestic. On the foreign and regional stage, there are no weak states in Korea and China, with puppets imploring Japanese help to stop Western imperialism. Western imperialism itself is a shadow of what it once was and no longer gives Japan a pretext to be the champion of Asia.

    This is bad analysis. Nicely done, but wrong.

    • Toolonggone

      >The Emperor no longer serves as a symbol,

      Um, actually it still does today. The emperor was inscribed as the leader of the state until 1945. After the war, the national government changed the language to “symbol of nation” in a way to restore its significance to Japanese public culture. The differences from the pre-war era are that 1) the imperial family does not function as an authority figure in politics anymore ; and 2) national leaders and politicians are discouraged from using emperor’s name for justification of any domestic/foreign policy.

      • Liars N. Fools

        Revised my post to reflect your comment.

    • kyushuphil

      I wouldn’t call what Debito writes here “analysis.”
      I’d say it’s a simple warning: there are going to be costs to pay.
      Yes, of course history has changed in this part of Asia from what it was 75 years ago. But other parts of Asia embroil in a tangle that can bring to fruition (fruition?) the costs in Japanese deaths Debito sees looming.
      The closest he comes to analysis, perhaps, is when he notes how the Abe government is trying to cut back the humanities at Japanese universities. Were he really doing analysis, he would have to expand his view of that reality to include Japanese high schools, too — not just the sports day regimentation he notes, but the more sinister everyday regimentation that has most youth following drill and mindless repetition, not writing and sharing individual essays.
      He would also have to account for Minae Mizumura’s more trenchant analysis, in “The Fall of Language in the Age of English.” You cite the poverty in Japan as cause for the militarism of the past. Mizumura sees something worse in the prosperity — the mad materialism reigning now, and habits now of following, not asking questions, worse now than ever.

      • William Bonney

        >I wouldn’t call what Debito writes here “analysis.”

        But, but, but, he’s a “trained researcher” /sarcasm

    • William Bonney

      >The Emperor no longer serves as a symbol

      I strongly disagree, in my experience the Emperor is still revered by almost everyone. He’s taken a very hands off approach to politics (which I think adds to his support – easier to love a monarch who stays out of the people’s day to day lives) but the Emperor is definitely a symbol. For instance, in our family home we have a wall devoted to commendations to family members by the Emperor going back generations.

  • tonepolice

    I think the hyperbolic rhetoric needs to be stepped up. “Japan rightists’ patient wait is over as conveyor belt of death shudders back to life” – I can’t remember the last time I read something so over the top that didn’t come from a U.S. Republican presidential candidate.

    • kyushuphil

      Please be more cautious in so readily dismissing gear-up-to-war.

      I remember the Gulf of Tonkin incident — LBJ used this seemingly innocuous encounter at sea to get authority to open the Nam war when he they did.

      I was a U.S. Army translator/interpreter of Vietnamese (1969-72) and I saw first-hand a rather massive system of lying, cover-up, incompetence, and worse. I saw soldiers who went mad. I saw government officials who indeed kept feeding the assembly lines to death and kept glossing it over with slogans, massive ignorance, and more lies and cover-up.

      War ain’t pretty. It ain’t smooth-running. And in the case of Nam and other American wars, the rhetoric decrying it could and ought to have been stronger, stronger, stronger than even that by which Debito here has you squirming — squirming at him and his rhetoric, not at the damages and madness of war.

    • tisho

      Obviously you don’t speak Japanese, or read online news from Japanese websites.

  • Rebane

    The Japanese are not a culturally homogeneous nation. Free yourself from the decades-old “racial profiling” that the “Westerners” started.

  • Clickonthewhatnow

    Thanks, JT. I needed some humour this morning, and you delivered!

  • Ostap Bender

    Arudo will use any topic as a way to criticize Japan.

    • kyushuphil

      Criticizing secretive authorities and warmongers does not mean criticizing the entire country and the larger culture which the power-hungry obfuscate.

    • Jim Jimson

      If by Japan you mean the most bloodthirsty elements of Japan’s capitalist class.

  • Ostap Bender

    Arudo will use any topic as a way to criticize Japan.

  • Paul Martin

    I would be easier to reinstate China’s emperor than getting today’s educated, mellow and pampered young Japanese to fight wars !

    • tisho

      And by educated you mean schooled to obey and conform, right? And those same peace loving young Japanese would shout at the center of Osaka for the massacre of Koreans, and would hold weekly demos calling for the murder of all chinese and Koreans.. and would write books that become best sellers about how Koreans and Chinese are cockroaches and subhumans are should be killed… and would make an extremely disgusting poster of Syrian little girl portrayed as evil monster trying to get to Japan and take advantage of their prosperity.. got it.

  • GBR48

    Media overreaction to the hyped ‘war bills’ may be linked to Japan’s national panic attack at the last increase in the sales tax.

    The sales tax was way too low for a developed nation and increased by a pitiful amount, a few percent. It is still too low to make much economic difference and nobody outside Japan can understand why there was so much fuss when it went up by so little.

    The same goes for the ‘collective self defence’ issue, which simply puts Japan on a similar footing to many other nations, most of whom don’t start wars and have no plans to. They just don’t trust their neighbours.

    I guess it’s a case of where you are coming from. Maybe a couple of percentage points is a scary hike in the sales tax when it was so artificially low to begin with. Maybe fighting alongside your allies is a big jump from ‘pacifism’, although the whole point of being allies is that you support each other. The ‘allies’ thing works both ways.

    But I’m not sure you can call Japan a pacifist country without having your tongue in your cheek. Japan has had an armed forces for decades, it just happens to be on-loan from the United States. An armed forces by proxy, that maintains a regional balance of power, keeping the international spats at a relatively pathetic level, with politicians bitching about past atrocities and annoying each other with token gestures, shrine visits and the like.

    Time to stop pretending that Japan has been without a military defence – hypocritically urging everyone else to get rid of their weapons whilst peeping out from behind a large number of well-armed American soldiers.

    There are a lot of bad people in the world, and weapons do not uninvent themselves. The price we pay for the flaws of humanity is the need to maintain a balance of power.

    Sometimes humanity is amazing. But sometimes, as a species, we suck. So we need to be able to defend ourselves, and rely on our allies.

    And if the Japanese people really don’t trust the political right not to go postal with their shiny new military toys, maybe they shouldn’t keep voting them into power.

  • GJM

    More paranoid ramblings by Debito… Japan Times – you’re better than this… Please reconsider giving Debito this column which (at least to some) legitimizes his delusions.

    • etchasketch

      Or at least moving it to the humor section.

    • etchasketch

      Or at least moving it to the humor section.

  • http://www.weeklyfascination.com/ T Greenwood

    I wonder if the author has actually visited Japan.
    As a previous commenter pointed out, conditions are completely different than the early 1900’s.

    • Paul Johnny Lynn

      He lives here.

      • letteradegree

        No he doesn’t. Past tense. He lives in Hawaii. He hasn’t lived in Japan for a long time. He quit his Japanese career, divorced his Japanese wife, and gave up his Japanese home many, many years ago.

      • J.P. Bunny

        All that, and he still feels the need to preach and rant to those that do live here.

      • tisho

        He is a Japanese national. He was Affiliate Scholar in Hawaii, and last year Meiji Gakuin Uni. awarded him with Doctorate in Philosophy. How do you know he’s not communicating in Japanese? And one year is not ”many many years ago”. He still has his home in Japan. Lying is just part of your culture isn’t it.

      • letteradegree

        The Meiji Gakuin Uni. was a remote study situation, flying to Japan only when necessary. Me, lying? In that case, don’t just take my word for it. Read his public blog and public facebook. He’s been open about completely abandoning both his personal and professional life in Japan and having no regrets. You are correct that he is (still) a Japanese national. That’s his ONLY remaining connection to Japan though: his passport. Aloha!

      • tisho

        What is a remote study situation? I thought him being an affiliate scholar in Hawaii was a remote study situation. I sometimes watch both his twitter and facebook pages, but i’ve never seen any of what you’re saying. I would love to see this, feel free to give me a link or something where i can see what he has said. How do you know that’s the only connection to Japan? You seem to love making things up on the fly just to suit your agenda. You don’t know him, maybe he’s living in Japan right now, or planning on doing so, or doing something associated to a Japanese institution from Hawaii, or something else, you don’t know. Him writing and thinking about Japan issues to me is a connection to Japan.

      • letteradegree

        This isn’t the place to get into that in depth. I merely replied to correct another person’s misstatement. Ask him yourself. He doesn’t hide it.

        If writing and thinking about Japan counts as a connection, then every sixteen year old weeaboo in New York has a Japan connection too.

      • tisho

        The burden of proof lies with the claimant. You claim that Debito had publicly abandoned both his personal and professional life in Japan and having no regrets, and that he has no Japanese friends. You say if i want proof of this i should visit his social network pages, but i did, and i don’t see where he has stated this. So, unless you can show it to me like i asked you to do so, i have no reason to accept your claims as valid. If you have seen these posts in his pages, then it should be easy to find it again. And yes, anybody who feels connected to another country, has a connection to it. You don’t need to physically be there to feel connected to something.

      • letteradegree

        You know you can’t post links in Japan Times comments without them being auto-moderated (and refused if they’re not relevant), correct? Try it. I couldn’t give you direct sources here if i tried. I’m sorry you’re so naive regarding the depth of Dr. Arudou (who currently holds permanent resident status in the United States)’s current connection to Japan. You are right that writing and thinking a connection. However, I am talking about deep, meaningful, unique and current connections.

        Did it not occur to you that there was a reason that this column switched from being about day-to-day life and activism as a foreigner in Japan to the more abstract Japan news analysis and commentary long ago? Did the change in his avatar to him wearing a lei necklace not tip you off?

        All comments will probably be removed by Japan Times censorship staff anyway in 72 hours or less because they hurt the credibility of the column and the editor that sponsors it.

      • tisho

        I know you can’t post links here, but you can copy the link without the https, or at least explain to me where exactly i can find his posts. I am not naive, i would be naive if i had rejected your claim instantly without seeking confirmation first. And again, the size, depth or form of the connection is a completely personal matter, and is irrelevant to where you are physically. Most people feel strong connection to their home countries when they leave for the first time, they follow the news, talk with people, and overall feel connected even without being actually physically there. How connected Debito feels to Japan is his own personal matter, and i don’t think you or anybody else can know that.

        I haven’t noticed any particular switch in his activism, i would say he is less active nowadays. I’ve always been critical of his activism, and i have said that before here. I support his efforts and i think he genuinely wants to do something good, but i don’t think the way he is trying to do it is correct. His entire website is in English, if he wants to convey something or change the Japanese society he should be advocating in Japanese, not English. He should also have a better organized website, only in Japanese, for Japanese people, where he can explain to people what exactly are his objectives and how exactly is he proposing to achieve them. Right now, he’s not really doing anything, and i don’t mean to undermine his efforts or offend him. I really don’t know what exactly he wants to do, what are his objectives. If he is serious activist, he should explain his objectives more clearly, and how exactly is he proposing to achieve them. He should be organizing seminars, lectures, speeches and so on. I am sure he will gatherer a lot of support within Japan, but right now people don’t even know what is it that he wants. People don’t even know him. If he is not an activist, but just an ”observer” or ”analyzer” or ”columnist” or even semi-journalist for Japan, then that would be a different matter.

      • letteradegree

        How connected Debito feels to Japan is his own personal matter, and i don’t think you or anybody else can know that.

        Debito’s connection to Japan is more than just a personal matter: it’s part of his resume and professional bio, and he uses his time spent in Japan to sell his writing and establish his experience that other overseas activists often lack. His connection to Japan is his currency, and he trades off of it for credibility. He doesn’t just read about discrimination. He experiences it. He would like his readers to believe he continues to experience it.

        If you do a little more research, you will see that he once did all that you mentioned. He has literally alienated every single activist he has ever directly worked with.

        If you decide to reply to this, reply quickly: the moderators will delete this thread when they see it during work hours.

      • tisho

        I haven’t seen any seminars, or lectures or any of that sort of activism by him, i once found a very old video in his website where can he was part of a foreign media documentary on Japan, he intentionally went to a bar that had the ”Only Japanese allowed” sign, and started a fight with the people from the bar, i thought that was very unproductive way to approach the problem. If he has any lectures, seminars or something else, where can i find them?

        I think perhaps what he wants is for Japanese people to not discriminate against foreigners in Japan, but i am yet to hear how exactly is he proposing to achieve that? You can’t physically make people stop discriminating. And if he wants to spread awareness of the issue, then why is he only publishing in English. If his objective is to eliminate discrimination in Japan, and spread awareness of it, i am sure there would be a lot of people who will support him, but he needs to organize his activism more clearly, and again, only in Japanese, and he needs to explain what are the steps he would be pushing for, and why he thinks that would work.

        Why do you think the moderators will delete this thread?

      • letteradegree

        Because it’s against JT commenting policy. You’re not allowed to directly criticize or speculate about the author, even if it’s not ad hominem and points to motive or conflict of interest or qualifications. It’s happened numerous times in prior columns. Most of his lectures and activism etc are dated, but they can be found in his website under the categories you would think they’re in (protests, speeches, …)

        As for communicating in Japanese, he has claimed that change is best done via external pressure in English. However, if you examine the Japanese on his site (recordings of him at the airport with cops, or speeches at unis, or his limited written pages in Japanese), the real reason is apparent: his Japanese isn’t good enough to write more than a few sentences per day.

      • William Bonney

        He no longer owns a home in Japan. During his presentation of his fiction book at the FCCJ (available on youtube) he revealed that his ex-wife and her new husband own the home.

        Perhaps misinformation is a part of your culture?

      • tisho

        Debito has never talked at the FCCJ. I am subscribed to that channel, and i just scrolled down on their archives, no Debito there. So that’s one lie. Also, you said that ”his ex-wife and her new husband own the home”, keyword being ”the home” as in ”that one home they lived together”. What makes you think he doesn’t have other homes? He worked and lived in Hokkaido until last year, maybe he has an apartment there, you don’t know. So that’s one lie, and one misinformed statement.

      • William Bonney

        > Debito has never talked at the FCCJ.

        Really? Then I guess it was someone else who talked at the FCCJ Book Break June 28, 2011. Might not be on youtube anymore (it has been more than 4 years), I now see it in podcast form. And misinformed is when you have been mislead. Uninformed is when you spout off without knowledge of what you’re talking about. I’ll leave it to the gentlereader as to which of those you actually are.

      • tisho

        There are videos of Debito on YouTube that are from 7 years ago, i did not find the video you were talking about. Unless you can show it to me, or guide me to where i can find it, i have no reason to think you are not a liar. A person can be misinformed even without being mislead by somebody. One can misinform himself by getting only selective information, one that serves his ignorance well. Uninformed is when you lack information of something, you can be uninformed even without opening your mouth. And having no knowledge of something and not having information of something are two different things. I am not a native speaker yet i understand English better than you. Funny that.

      • William Bonney

        > Debito has never talked at the FCCJ.

        Really? Then I guess it was someone else who talked at the FCCJ Book Break June 28, 2011. Might not be on youtube anymore (it has been more than 4 years), I now see it in podcast form. And misinformed is when you have been mislead. Uninformed is when you spout off without knowledge of what you’re talking about. I’ll leave it to the gentlereader as to which of those you actually are.

      • William Bonney

        Hmm – didn’t go through – put this into google and go to the first non debito dot org link – “debito-org-podcast-july-1-2011-fccj-book-break-on-in-appropriate-june-28-2011”

      • letteradegree

        He worked and lived in Hokkaido until last year

        I’m afraid you’re wrong. I can’t go into details here because of JT’s moderation policy. Debito Arudou emigrated to the New World with most of his physical possessions from Japan almost a half decade ago in 2011 to start a new life (with a new non-Japanese person). He has returned to Japan for brief stints to do appearances or appointments, but these Japan visits are tourist length business trips.

        I’m sorry he has intentionally or unintentionally misled you to believe otherwise.

      • Toolonggone

        >Debito has never talked at the FCCJ.

        Actually, he did. Not once, but twice at least. The reason why you can’t get the files is because there’s no archive available at the time he held the press conference. I mean, on the FCCJ website.

      • William Bonney

        He hasn’t lived in Japan since 2011. Or are you referring to Hawaii?

    • Jim Jimson

      On the contrary, I find that people who make these content-free negations of progressive analyses of Japan tend either be a) sympathetic to reactionary elements in their own country, b) lack the Japanese ability or intellectual framework to engage with popular media here, or c) only interact with Japanese people who know the “correct” things to say to westerners; i.e. are well-traveled, well-educated, or bourgeois / petit bourgeois.

      • Sam Gilman

        Your point a) is spot on, and it has been something bothering me for quite some time. It particularly comes out in discussions of gender politics.

    • Toolonggone

      Yeah, that’s a legit point to counter author’s argument. Things would be very different stories should the US make a shocking announcement like they would withdraw all their troops from Japan by 2030 or so.

  • Ronald W. Nixon

    This is a real danger, when you consider the path the US has gone down since Obama seized power. Japan is a US ally and now the US is making deals with Iran, who backs Hamas and ISIS. If Obama leaves office and becomes an honorary Ayatollah Obama – a scenario which he still has not denied – will Japan be obligated to follow his mission to re-establish the caliphate? Will we see Toyota building the new Ayatollah Corolla to help Iranistan and Los Hamas in their effort to knock down the Trump Wall and bring El Bola to America? These seem like logical consequences to the events predicted in this article.

    • etchasketch

      Please stay in America where you belong.

    • Toolonggone

      One thing I found about the US is that their imperialistic attitude on foreign policy hasn’t changed since the 19th century, regardless of Democratic or Republican presidents.

  • tisho

    Why are there so many braindead japanophiles in here? I thought reddit was supposed to be your lair.

    • William Bonney

      You must be new to the internet. Please view 1 kitten picture every hour and call us in the morning.

  • AJ

    Some good points but I don’t see it happening this way. I do think Abe is trying to turn back the clock in many ways, but it’s still inconceivable for the Japanese public to support these hyperbolic policies, even implicitly.

    Also, I hope the liberal arts teach more than questioning authority and seeing the State or corporatism in terms of potential abuses of power. Otherwise the government might have a point in scrapping them.

  • thedudeabidez

    I agree with many of the charges leveled at the Abe administration in this article, but it does rather ignore the reality that certain facts on the ground have changed. China is unified and strong, not internally split and weak as it was in the 1930s. Same for Korea, and most of Japan’s other neighbors. Japan’s businesses are economically intertwined with these countries, and have moved much of their production overseas, a major obstacle to behaving aggressively in the region. The LDP is nothing if not the party of Keidanren.

    The emperor worship system has completely faded for all practical terms, and the current imperial family, if anything, is arguably against the idea of a re-militarized Japan. With a declining population, Japan is going to be hard-pressed enough to find a workforce let alone wasting its youth in overseas military adventures. And that’s assuming the youth would go along with any such mission; if anything, the most vigorous opposition to the constitutional changes has come from the younger generation.

    Rather than prophesying doom, it would be more useful at this point in time to start focusing on ways in which an organized opposition to the LDP can once and for all knock them out of power. The lack of any such opposition is what is allowing the Abe administration to proceed with a host of policies that poll after poll show the vast majority of the Japanese public are opposed to.

  • Michaelinlondon1234

    The sadistic USA military did this. Trying to build their new world order….

  • Carrasco German

    Great and sadly true article. Japanese society glorifies the death in combat and evades to criticize government decisions. You can ask for the reason of lots of unfair situations to average people and very probably the answer will be, “I have never asked myself why”. Anything that could boost the economy would be just fine, no matter the suffering it may cause in their children or other people’s children.

  • Carrasco German

    Great and sadly true article. Japanese society glorifies the death in combat and evades to criticize government decisions. You can ask for the reason of lots of unfair situations to average people and very probably the answer will be, “I have never asked myself why”. Anything that could boost the economy would be just fine, no matter the suffering it may cause in their children or other people’s children.

  • Ilya Grushevskiy

    60% against this law in public polling and higher since the propaganda by Abe started getting pushed. You are too pessimistic friend, and live in the past! The judiciary is famously intertwined with the rulers of Japan, but I think this maay be a step too far even for them!
    In the end, the constitution cannot be changed without a referendum and any “play” to fix the rules is too easy to see in advance, so I say hope for a bit of good fortune – Taoist Farmer not Black Swan! This could all be good for a re-trenching of the ideal :D