"Freedom." "Liberty." Ringing words. Better than any other, they define modern times. They sparked three early-modern revolutions — England's "Glorious Revolution" (1688), the American Revolution of 1776-83, and the French Revolution beginning around 1789.

Japan then was a "closed country" — had been since 1638, would be until 1854, its citizens barred from leaving and almost all foreigners barred from entering, both on pain of death. While freedom was being born in the West, or being seized from recalcitrant rulers, a very different ideal was maturing in Japan — the ideal of submission. Absolute, total, unquestioning submission.

Article 97 of Japan's postwar Constitution declares, "The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free."