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It has been reported that the Defense Ministry has decided to grant Iwakuni City a subsidy related to the realignment of U.S. military forces on condition that it accept transfer of 59 U.S. naval aircraft from U.S. Atsugi Air Base in Kanagawa Prefecture. The grant has been frozen because of the opposition of the city’s former administration.

Tokyo’s handling of American base issues reminds me of how the Imperial Japanese Army was involved in recruiting “comfort women” during World War II. Ianjo or “comfort stations” were not directly operated by the military but by civilian collaborators. The establishment and maintenance of ianjo were carried out under the direction and supervision of the military.

Civilian collaborators, serving the emperor’s army wholeheartedly, devised many kinds of plots to gather a sufficient number of women. They used the carrot-and-stick approach, often asking police for help or lying to women about the availability of lucrative jobs. After the war, the U.S. forces took the place of the Imperial Japanese Army in role-playing. Japan’s prime minister ran errands for the U.S. president to maintain the U.S. bases. People in affected areas were offered the carrot in front and threatened with the stick in back.

This is the true picture of our “beautiful Japan.” Can one love such a state from the bottom of one’s heart? What is patriotism as defined by the government? Is it merely to show a saluting posture to the Hinomaru national flag as if it were an idol?

yoshio shimoji