In the year the West knows as 604 A.D., one of Japan’s most revered statesmen, Shotoku Taishi, issued a “constitution,” the first of whose 17 articles states, “Harmony is to be valued.”

So it was; so it is to this day — valued so highly that it is apt to be seen whether it exists or not. Japan’s industrialization was a government-led forced march to a national goal expressed in a government slogan: “Rich country, strong army.” Individual suffering counted for little. There was a good deal of it, inevitably. Peasants pouring into cities were herded into factories. Hours were long, wages low, supervision harsh, machines implacable. It’s galley slavery in modern dress.

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