Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto insulted people worldwide with his repeated denials and justifications of the Imperial Japanese Army’s sexual slavery system during World War II. These and many other idiotic statements from Japanese politicians give us real insight into the thinking of much of Japan’s leadership.
Psychologists will tell you that patterns of behavior are important to watch. Over the past two decades I’ve noticed a pattern of denial and obfuscation whenever a Japanese male is caught doing something objectionable: (1) deny the problem, (2) blame the victim, (3) minimize the problem and (4) play the victim.
Hashimoto’s responses to angry criticism fall squarely into this pattern, but they are far from original. We hear the same weaseling whenever Japanese bigwigs have conflicts with foreigners — from the decades of international trade friction to the predictable denials issued by Toyota when it faced the recall of millions of its cars.
Hashimoto’s style has been called “Hashism” for good reason. His attitude dovetails with that of Japanese revisionists advocating a new school curriculum that whitewashes Japanese history to promote patriotism. Hashimoto’s protests that everybody is picking on Japan are false arguments that illustrate the pre-adolescent level of thinking that fascism promotes.
The attitudes that enslaved thousands of girls and women in countries occupied by Japan before and during World War II persist to this day. Before the 2011 nuclear disasters, the biggest intellectual argument in Japan concerned the production and availability of comic books about raping little girls. This is not coincidental. It is what psychologists would call a pathology.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.