Commentary / World

In Hatoyama's 'fraternity,' people the end, not means

LDP served purpose, festered; 'globalism' gutted communities

An opinion piece by Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama that was originally published in the September edition of the Japanese monthly journal Voice has triggered controversy in the United States for appearing to have an antiglobalization bent.

In the piece, part of which was published on The New York Times’ Web site and by other newspapers, Hatoyama in part said he feels “that as a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of the U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end and that we are moving away from a unipolar world led by the U.S. toward an era of multipolarity.’

Following is the full text of an official English-language copy of the opinion piece titled “My Political Philosophy,” made available to Kyodo News recently:

The banner of party politician Ichiro Hatoyama

Among Japanese people today, “ai” is a particularly popular word which is usually translated as “love.” Therefore, when I speak of “yuai,” which is written with the characters for “friendship” and “love,” many people seem to picture a concept that is soft and weak. However, when I speak of “yuai,” I am referring to a concept that is actually rather different. What I am referring to is fraternity, as in “liberte, egalite, fraternite,” the slogan of the French Revolution.

When my grandfather Ichiro Hatoyama translated one of the works of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi into Japanese, he rendered the word fraternity as “yuai” rather than the existing translation of “hakuai.” Therefore, when I refer to “yuai,” I am not referring to something tender but rather to a strong, combative concept that was a banner of revolution.

Eighty-five years ago, in 1923, Coudenhove-Kalergi published his work “Pan-Europa,” starting off the Pan-Europa Movement which eventually led to the formation of the European Union. Coudenhove-Kalergi was the son of an Austrian noble, who was posted to Japan as his country’s minister, and Mitsuko Aoyama, the daughter of an antiques dealer from Azabu, Tokyo. One of the count’s middle names was the Japanese name Eijiro.

In 1935, Coudenhove-Kalergi published “The Totalitarian State against Man.” The work includes severe criticisms of Soviet communism and Nazism as well as the reflections on the self-indulgence of capitalism in leaving such ideologies to flourish. Coudenhove-Kalergi believed that freedom forms the foundation of human dignity and that it is therefore unsurpassed in value. In order to guarantee freedom, he advocated a system of private ownership. However, he was despondent at how the severe social inequalities produced by capitalism had helped give rise to communism by creating an environment in which people aspired to equality, and also at how this had resulted in the emergence of national socialism as an alternative to both capitalism and communism. “Freedom without fraternity leads to anarchy. Equality without fraternity leads to tyranny” (translation of the quote in Japanese).

Coudenhove-Kalergi discussed how both totalitarianism, which tried to achieve equality at all costs, and capitalism, which had fallen into self-indulgence, resulted in disregard for human dignity and as such resulted in the treatment of human beings as a means instead of an end. Although freedom and equality are important for human beings, if they are followed to fundamentalist extremes, they can both result in immeasurable horrors. Therefore, Coudenhove-Kalergi recognized the necessity of a concept that could achieve a balance and maintain respect for humanity. That is what he sought in the idea of fraternity.

“Man is an end and not a means. The state is a means and not an end.” These are the first lines of “The Totalitarian State against Man.” At the time Coudenhove-Kalergi was putting ideas together for this publication, two different forms of totalitarianism were prominent in Europe, and his home country of Austria was being threatened with annexation by Hitler’s Germany.

Coudenhove-Kalergi traveled all around Europe advocating the cause of Pan-Europeanism and criticizing Hitler and Stalin. However, his efforts were in vain. Austria fell to the Nazis and Coudenhove-Kalergi was forced to flee in disappointed exile to the United States. The movie “Casablanca” is said to be based on his flight. When Coudenhove-Kalergi talks of a “fraternal revolution,” he is referring to the combative philosophy that supported the fierce fight against both the leftwing and rightwing totalitarianism of that age.

After the war, Ichiro Hatoyama, who was exiled from public office just as he was at the point of becoming prime minister, read the works of Coudenhove-Kalergi as he was living his enforced life of leisure. He was so struck by “The Totalitarian State against Man” that he took it upon himself to translate it into Japanese. His translation was published under the title “Jiyu to Jinsei” (“Freedom and Life”).

For Ichiro, who was an ardent critic of both communism and military-led planned economies, “The Totalitarian State against Man” seemed to provide the most appropriate theoretical system for fighting back against the popularity of Marxism that began to swell in postwar Japan (the Socialist Party, Communist Party and labor movements) and for building a healthy parliamentary democracy. While fighting against the growing influence of the Socialist and Communist parties, Ichiro Hatoyama used the word “yuai” (fraternity) as a banner in trying to bring down the bureaucrat-led government of Shigeru Yoshida and replace it with his own administration of party politicians.

This was expressed succinctly by Hatoyama in “Yuai Seinen Doshikai Kouryo” (“Young People’s Fraternal Association Mission Statement”), which Ichiro Hatoyama wrote in 1953. “Under the banner of liberalism, we will devote ourselves to a Fraternal Revolution, avoid extreme leftwing and rightwing ideologies, and work steadfastly to achieve a healthy and vibrant democratic society and build a free and independent cultural nation.”

Ichiro Hatoyama’s concept of fraternity continued to have influence as an undercurrent within Japan’s postwar conservative political parties.

Following the revision of the Japan-U.S. security treaty in 1960, the Liberal Democratic Party changed direction significantly and began to prioritize policies of management-labor conciliation. These policies formed the foundation for Japan’s period of rapid economic growth and are best symbolized by the LDP Basic Charter, a 1965 document which was written to serve as a kind of mission statement. The first chapter of this charter, which is entitled “Human Dignity,” states, “human lives are precious, and are an end in and of themselves. The lives of human beings must never become a means.” A similar phrase can be found in the LDP Labor Charter, a document which called for reconciliation with the labor movement. These phrases are clearly borrowed from the work of Coudenhove-Kalergi, and were very likely influenced by Ichiro Hatoyama’s thinking on the subject of fraternity. These two charters contributed to the establishment of the Hatoyama and Ishibashi Cabinets, and were both drafted by Hirohide Ishida, a politician who served as labor minister in the Ikeda Cabinet and was responsible for setting Japan on a course toward conciliatory labor-management policies.

The end of LDP one-party rule and the announcement of the Democratic Party of Japan

In the postwar period, the LDP confronted socialist forces inside and outside Japan and dedicated itself to Japan’s reconstruction and the achievement of high economic growth. These were noteworthy achievements which deserve their place in history. However, even after the end of the Cold War, the LDP fell into the trap of “the politics of inertia,” and continued to act as if economic growth in itself was Japan’s national goal. The party continually failed to adapt to the changing contemporary environment and shift toward policies designed to qualitatively improve people’s lives.

At the same time, unhealthy ties between politicians, bureaucrats and corporations continually led to political corruption, a long-standing illness of the LDP. When the Cold War came to an end, I strongly felt that the historical role the LDP had played in supporting Japan’s rapid economic growth had come to an end, and that the time had come for a new seat of political responsibility.

Therefore, I left the LDP, which had been founded by my grandfather, and after participating in the establishment of New Party Sakigake, I eventually became the founding leader of the Democratic Party of Japan. The (former) DPJ was founded Sept. 11, 1996. The following phrases were included in the statement released to mark the founding of the party. “From today onward, we wish to place the spirit of fraternity at the heart of our society. Freedom can often result in an unrestrained environment where the strong prey upon the weak.

Equality can easily result in a malevolent form of equality where all differences are criticized. Fraternity is the power that can prevent such extremes of freedom and equality yet over the past 100 or so years the power of fraternity has been marginalized. Modern nations up until the 20th century rushed to mobilize their people and in doing so tended to assess their worth as a single mass (rather than as individuals). . . . We believe that each individual human being has a boundless, diverse individuality and that each human life is irreplaceable. That is why we believe in the principle of ‘self-independence’ through which each individual has the right to decide upon their own destiny and the obligation to take responsibility for the results of their choices. At the same time, we also stress the importance of the principle of ‘coexistence with others’ under which people respect each other’s mutual independence and differences while also working to understand each other and seek common ground for cooperative action. We believe that we must steadfastly adhere to these principles of independence and coexistence not only in the context of personal relationships within Japanese society but also in the context of the relationships between Japan and other nations and the relationship between humankind and the environment.”

Author Saneatsu Mushanokoji wrote the famous words “I am me, you are you, yet we are good friends.” I think these words truly express the spirit of fraternity. Just as the ideals of freedom and equality evolve with the contemporary environment, in terms of both their expression and their content, the idea of “fraternity,” which calls on us to respect individuals, also evolves with the times. When I saw the collapse of the totalitarian regimes that both Coudenhove-Kalergi and my grandfather had opposed, I redefined my understanding of fraternity as “the principle of independence and coexistence.”

Thirteen years have now passed since we formed the former Democratic Party of Japan. During the time since then, post-Cold War Japan has been continually buffeted by the winds of market fundamentalism in a U.S.-led movement which is more usually called globalization. Freedom is supposed to be the highest of all values, but the fundamentalist pursuit of capitalism, which can be described as “freedom formalized in economic terms,” has resulted in people being treated not as an end but as a means. Consequently human dignity has been lost. The recent financial crisis and its aftermath have once again forced us to take note of this reality. How can we put an end to unrestrained market fundamentalism and financial capitalism that are void of morals or moderation in order to protect the finances and livelihoods of our citizens? That is the issue we are now facing. In these times, I realized that we must once again remember the role for fraternity identified by Coudenhove-Kalergi as a force for moderating the danger inherent within freedom. I came to a decision that we must once again raise the banner of fraternity. On May 16, 2009, in the runup to the DPJ leadership election, I made the following statement: “I will take the lead in coming together with our friends and colleagues to overcome this difficult situation and ensure that we achieve a change of government in order to bring about a fraternal society based on coexistence.” What does fraternity mean to me? It is the compass that determines our political direction, a yardstick for deciding our policies. I believe it is also the spirit that supports our attempts to achieve “an era of independence and coexistence.”

Restoring the weakened sphere of public service

In our present times, fraternity can be described as a principle that aims to adjust to the excesses of the current globalized brand of capitalism and make adjustments to accommodate the local economic practices that have been fostered through our traditions. In other words, it is a means of building an economic society based on coexistence by switching away from the policies of market fundamentalism and toward policies that protect the livelihoods and safety of the people.

It goes without saying that the recent worldwide economic crisis was brought about by the collapse of market fundamentalism and financial capitalism that the United States has advocated since the end of the Cold War. This U.S.-led market fundamentalism and financial capitalism went by many names, including the “global economy,” “globalization” and “globalism.” This way of thinking was based on the principle that American-style free-market economics represents a universal and ideal economic order and that all countries should modify the traditions and regulations governing their own economy in order to reform the structure of their economic society in line with global standards (or rather American standards). In Japan, opinion was divided on how far the trend toward globalization should be taken on board. Some people advocated the active embrace of globalism and supported leaving everything up to the dictates of the market. Others favored a more reticent approach, believing that effort should be made instead to expand the social safety net and protect our traditional economic activities. Since the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the LDP has stressed the former while we in the DPJ have tended toward the latter position.

The economic order or local economic activities in any country are built up over long years and reflect the influence of each country’s traditions, habits and national lifestyles. Therefore, the economic activities of individual countries are very diverse due to many factors, including the differences of history, tradition, habits, economic scale and stage of development. However, globalism progressed without any regard for various noneconomic values, nor of environmental issues or problems of resource restriction. The economic activities of citizens in small countries were severely damaged, and in some countries globalism has even destroyed traditional industries. Capital and means of production can now be transferred easily across international borders. However, people cannot move so easily. In terms of market theory, people are simply personnel expenses, but in the real world people support the fabric of the local community and are the physical embodiment of its lifestyle, traditions and culture. An individual gains respect as a person by acquiring a job and a role within the local community and being able to maintain their family’s livelihood.

If we look back on the changes in Japanese society that have occurred since the end of the Cold War, I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the global economy has damaged traditional economic activities and market fundamentalism has destroyed local communities. For example, the decision to privatize Japan’s post office placed far too little weight on the institution’s long history and the traditional role that its staff held in the local community. It also ignored the noneconomic benefits of the post office and its value in the community. The logic of the market was used to justify taking such a drastic step.

Under the principle of fraternity, we will not implement policies that leave economic activities in areas relating to human lives and safety, such as agriculture, the environment and medicine, at the mercy of the tides of globalism. Rather, we need to strengthen rules governing the safety of human lives and stability of people’s livelihoods. Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our attention on those noneconomic values that have been thrown aside by the march of globalism. We must work on policies that regenerate the ties that bring people together, that take greater account of nature and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child rearing support and that address wealth disparities. This is required in order to create an environment in which each individual citizen is able to pursue happiness.

Over recent years, Japan’s traditional public services have been eroded. The ties that bring people together have become weaker and the spirit of public service has also dimmed. In today’s economic society, economic activities can be divided into four sectors: governmental, corporate, nonprofit and household. While the first, second and fourth categories are self-explanatory, by the third category I mean the types of mutual assistance which were once provided by neighborhood associations and which are now also provided through the activities of NPOs. As economic society becomes more advanced and complicated, the scope of services that cannot be provided by the authorities, corporations and family members grows increasingly wide. That is why the more industrialized a country becomes the greater the social role played by NPOs and other nonprofit organizations. This is the foundation of “coexistence.” These activities are not recorded in the gross domestic product, but when working to build a society that has truly high standards of living, the scope and depth of such public services, as provided through nonprofit activities, citizens’ groups and other social activities, are of great importance. Politics based on “fraternity” would restore strength to Japan’s depleted nonprofit (public service) sector. It would expand the nonprofit sector into new areas and provide assistance for the people who support these activities. In this way, we aim to build a society of coexistence in which people can rediscover the ties that bring them together, help each other, and find meaning and fulfillment in performing a useful social role.

It is of course true that Japan is currently facing a fiscal crisis. However, “fraternal politics” aims cautiously yet steadily for the path that will achieve both the restructuring of government finances and the rebuilding of our welfare Therefore, I believe that it will be impossible to overcome Japan’s fiscal crisis without devolving power to local authorities, implementing thorough administrative reform and restoring public trust in the sustainability of social security systems, particularly pensions. In other words, resolving our fiscal problems is impossible without comprehensively rebuilding Japan’s political systems.

Empowering local authorities within the nation-state

When I made a speech announcing my candidacy for president of the DPJ, I stated, “My first political priority” is “reform to move away from a nation-state based on centralized power structures and create a nation based on devolved regional power.” A similar view was incorporated into the inaugural declaration when we formed the former DPJ 13 years ago. Back then, our aim was to achieve a nation based on regional devolution and empowered local authorities. We intended to achieve this by limiting the role of the national executive and legislature and promoting efficient local administrations vested with significant authority. Furthermore, based on this new system of government, we aimed to establish wide-ranging welfare systems based on citizen participation and mutual assistance in the local community while also establishing fiscal, medical and pension systems which do not force debts onto future generations.

Count Coudenhove-Kalergi’s “The Fraternal Revolution” (Chapter 12 of “The Totalitarian State against Man”) contains the following passage: The political requirement of brotherhood is federalism, the natural and organic construction of the state out of its individuals. The path from men to the universe leads through concentric circles: men build families, families communes, communes cantons, cantons states, states continents, continents the planets, the planets the solar system, solar system the universe. In today’s language, what Coudenhove-Kalergi described is the principle of “subsidiarity,” a modern political approach that has its roots in fraternity.

The truth is that in today’s age we cannot avoid economic globalization. However, in the European Union, where economic integration is strong, there is also a noticeable trend of localization. Examples of this included the federalization of Belgium and the separation and independence of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Within a globalized economic environment, how can we preserve the autonomy of countries and regions, which serve as foundations of tradition and culture? This is an issue of importance not only for the European Union but also for Japan as well.

In response to the conflicting demands of globalism and localization, the European Union has advocated the principle of subsidiarity in the Maastricht Treaty and The European Charter of Local Self-Government. The principle of subsidiarity is not simply a rule that declares that local authorities should always be prioritized, rather it is a principle that can also be invoked to define the relationship between nation-states and supranational institutions. We can interpret the principle of subsidiarity from this perspective as follows: Matters that can be dealt with by the individual should be resolved by the individual. Matters that cannot be resolved by the individual should be resolved with the help of the family. Matters that cannot be resolved by the family should be resolved with the help of the local community and NGOs. It is only when matters cannot be resolved at this level that the authorities should become involved. Then of course, matters that can be dealt with by the local government should be resolved by the local government. Matters that cannot be resolved by the local government should be resolved by the next intermediate level of government. Matters that the next level of government cannot handle, for example diplomacy, defense and decisions on macroeconomic policy, should be dealt with by the central government. Finally, even some elements of national sovereignty, such as the issue of currency, should be transferred to supranational institutions like the EU.

The principle of subsidiarity is therefore a policy for devolution which places emphasis on the lowest level of local government. As we search for ways to modernize the concept of fraternity, we find ourselves naturally arriving at the idea of a nation based on regional devolution built upon the principle of subsidiarity. When discussing reform of Japan’s local authority system, including the possibility of introducing a system of around 10 or so regional blocs to replace Japan’s 47 prefectures, we must not forget to ask the following questions: What is the appropriate size for local authorities (which are embodiments of tradition and culture)? What is the appropriate size of local authorities in terms of their functional efficacy for local residents? During a speech I made at the time of the DPJ presidential election, I made the following comments: “I propose limiting the role of central government to diplomacy, defense, fiscal policy, financial policy, resource, energy and environmental policy. I propose transferring to the lowest level of local government the authority, taxation rights and personnel required to provide services closely related to people’s livelihoods. I propose creating a framework that will allow local authorities to bear responsibility for making decisions and have the means to implement them. I propose abolishing the current system of central government subsidies (which can only be used for a particular stated purpose) and instead providing a single payment which the local authorities can use at their own discretion. In other words, I will break down the de facto master-servant relationship which exists between the central government and local authorities and replace it with an equal relationship based on shared responsibilities. This reform will improve the overall efficiency of the whole country and facilitate finely tuned administrative services that take into account local needs and the perspectives of local citizens.” The only way for regions to achieve autonomy, self-responsibility and the competence to make their own decisions is to transfer a wide range of resources and significant power to the local authorities which are in closest contact with citizens, an approach which also clarifies the relationship between citizens’ burdens and the services they receive. This approach will facilitate the invigoration of local economic activities. It is also a path toward the construction a more distinctive, appealing and beautiful Japan. The establishment of a nation based on empowered local authorities represents the embodiment of a modern politics of fraternity and is highly appropriate as a political goal for our times.

Overcoming nationalism through an East Asian community

Another national goal that emerges from the concept of fraternity is the creation of an East Asian community. Of course, the Japan-U.S. Security Pact will continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy. Unquestionably, the Japan-U.S. relationship is an important pillar of our diplomacy. However, at the same time, we must not forget our identity as a nation located in Asia. I believe that the East Asian region, which is showing increasing vitality in its economic growth and even closer mutual ties, must be recognized as Japan’s basic sphere of being. Therefore, we must continue to make efforts to build frameworks for stable economic cooperation and national security across the region.

The recent financial crisis has suggested to many people that the era of American unilateralism may come to an end. It has also made people harbor doubts about the permanence of the dollar as the key global currency. I also feel that as a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of the U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end and that we are moving away from a unipolar world led by the U.S. toward an era of multipolarity. However, at present, there is no one country ready to replace the United States as the world’s most dominant country. Neither is there a currency ready to replace the dollar as the world’s key currency. Therefore, even if we shift from unipolar to multipolar world, our idea of what to expect is at best vague, and we feel anxiety because the new forms to be taken by global politics and economics remain unclear. I think this describes the essence of the crisis we are now facing.

Although the influence of the U.S. is declining, the U.S. will remain the world’s leading military and economic power for the next two to three decades. Current developments show clearly that China, which has by far the world’s largest population, will become one of the world’s leading economic nations, while also continuing to expand its military power. The size of China’s economy will surpass that of Japan in the not-too-distant future. How should Japan maintain its political and economic independence and protect its national interest when caught between the United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world’s dominant power, and China, which is seeking ways to become one? The future international environment surrounding Japan does not seem to be easy. This is a question of concern not only to Japan but also to the small and medium-sized nations in Asia. They want the military power of the U.S. to function effectively for the stability of the region but want to restrain U.S. political and economic excesses. They also want to reduce the military threat posed by our neighbor China while ensuring that China’s expanding economy develops in an orderly fashion. I believe these are the instinctive demands of the various nations in the region. This is also a major factor accelerating regional integration.

Today, as the supranational political and economic philosophies of Marxism and globalism have, for better or for worse, stagnated, nationalism is once again starting to have a major influence on policymaking decisions in various countries. As symbolized by the anti-Japanese riots that occurred in China a few years ago, the spread of the Internet has accelerated the integration of nationalism and populism and the emergence of uncontrollable political turbulence is a very real risk. As we maintain an awareness of this environment and seek to build new structures for international cooperation, we must overcome excessive nationalism in each nation and go down the path toward the rule-building for economic cooperation and national security. Unlike Europe, the countries of this region differ in their population size, development stage and political systems, and therefore economic integration cannot be achieved over the short term. However, I believe that we should aspire to the move toward regional currency integration as a natural extension of the path of the rapid economic growth begun by Japan, followed by South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then achieved by the ASEAN nations and China. We must therefore spare no effort to build the permanent security frameworks essential to underpinning currency integration.

ASEAN, Japan, China (including Hong Kong), South Korea and Taiwan now account for one-quarter of the world’s gross domestic product. The economic power of the East Asian region and the mutually independent relationships within the region have grown wider and deeper, which is unprecedented. As such, the underlying structures required for the formation of a regional economic bloc are already in place. On the other hand, due to the historical and cultural conflicts existing between the countries of this region, in addition to their conflicting national security interests, we must recognize that there are numerous difficult political issues. The problems of increased militarization and territorial disputes, which stand in the way of regional integration, cannot be resolved by bilateral negotiations between, for example, Japan and South Korea or Japan and China. The more these problems are discussed bilaterally, the greater the risk that citizens’ emotions in each country will become inflamed and nationalism will be intensified. Therefore, somewhat paradoxically, I would suggest that the issues which stand in the way of regional integration can only really be resolved through the process of moving toward greater regional integration. For example, the experience of the EU shows us how regional integration can defuse territorial disputes.

When writing a draft proposal for a new Japanese Constitution in 2005, I put in the preamble the following words on the subject of Japan’s national goals for the next half century: We, recognizing the importance of human dignity, seek to enjoy, together with people of the world, the benefits of peace, freedom and democracy, and commit ourselves to work continually and unceasingly toward the goal of establishing a system of permanent and universal economic and social cooperation and a system of collective national security in the international community, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. I believe that not only is this the path we should follow toward realizing the principles of pacifism and multilateral cooperation advocated by the Japanese Constitution, I also believe this is the appropriate path for protecting Japan’s political and economic independence and pursuing our national interest from our position between two of the world’s great powers, the United States and China. Moreover, this path would represent a contemporary embodiment of the “fraternal revolution” advocated by Count Coudenhove-Kalergi.

Based on this awareness of our intended direction, it becomes clear that, for example, our response to the recent global financial crisis should not be simply to provide the kind of limited support measures previously employed by the IMF and the World Bank. Rather, we should be working toward a possible idea of the future common Asian currency. Establishing a common Asian currency will likely take more than 10 years. For such a single currency to bring about political integration will surely take longer still. Due to the seriousness of the ongoing global economic crisis, some people may wonder why I am taking the time to discuss this seemingly extraneous topic. However, I believe that the more chaotic, unclear and uncertain the problems we face, the higher and greater are the goals to which politicians should lead the people.

We are currently standing at a turning point in global history, and therefore our resolve and vision are being tested, not only in terms of our ability to formulate policies to stimulate the domestic economy, but also in terms of how we try to build a new global political and economic order. I would like to conclude by quoting the words of Coudenhove-Kalergi, the father of the EU, written 85 years ago, when he published “Pan-Europa.”

“All great historical ideas started as a utopian dream and ended with reality.

“Whether a particular idea remains as a utopian dream or it can become reality depends on the number of people who believe in the ideal and their ability to act upon it.”

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