Shaun O’Dwyer’s Sept. 26 article, “Nuclear crisis lowers curtain on Japan’s Confucian politics,” is a highly recommended history lesson on how Confucianism helped to create a nation of overly trusting and obedient citizens in Japan. It offers an important understanding of how a nation that is naturally and culturally conservative could be led down the wrong road of nuclear power and take wild chances on tsunamis and earthquakes.
Had it not been for the dependence on state benevolence, perhaps the population would have put up greater resistance at the start of the ill-fated “Atoms for Peace” project begun in the 1960s.
As O’Dwyer notes, after 3/11, “Confucian moral practice” collapsed when the problems caused by the nuclear disaster exposed the fatal contradictions in what was previously perceived as a harmonious society. However, I wish O’Dwyer had not taken the obligatory swipe at so-called “ill-informed and alarmist critics of nuclear power.” Given that he does not cite any examples, this vaguely sounds like the stereotype used against anti-nuke activists: that they are dope-smoking hippies and bongo drummers, or simply curmudgeons with axes to grind.
We are now aware that many comments left on Internet blogs and forums may be created by paid corporate and governmental propagandists. Information warfare is used to sway public opinion or fill our heads with misleading information. While far from perfect, citizen activists, researchers and journalists have often filled in the gaps where the establishment media have missed out.
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.