was, of course, not the incident itself that sparked the
anger of the Japanese public, but its disgraceful aftermath.
In Japan, the most civilized nation on earth the
country with the lowest crime rate, the highest technology,
and an aesthetic sense far older and more evolved than Western
culture at its peak form reigns supreme. This is
the aesthetic and moral basis for the widespread revulsion
among ordinary Japanese at how the Ehime Maru tragedy
was handled by US government and military officials. A formal
from the US came swiftly but getting truthful
information out of them was like yanking teeth.
first, Pentagon officials purported to be "puzzled by the
to CNN, "saying that U.S. submarines regularly surface
in the area and information about such surfacings
are given out to commercial vessels." Then we
were informed by Adm. Tom Fargo, commander of the US
Pacific Fleet, that the submarine was on the way back into
port, after a long hard day patrolling the Empire's Pacific
frontier, when for some as-yet-to-be explained reason
it was suddenly necessary to carry out what the Admiral
referred to as an "emergency main ballast tank blow." Say
what? "This is an operation that we do on a regular
basis," he explained. The procedure is performed "for demonstration
and to check the proper operations of these systems." Is
not quite: Hisao Onishi, the captain of the Ehime Maru,
to ask a few questions: why did the submarine suddenly
surface, without warning? What's up with that? An
official of the Japanese Maritime Defense said that such
a thing was "unthinkable." Onishi added fuel to the smoldering
embers of Japanese resentment when he told a Feb. 11 press
conference that the
Greeneville crew just watched him and his crew
as they scrambled to locate and rescue survivors. "I could
see several people on the [submarine] tower," said Onishi,
fighting back tears. "They lowered a rope ladder from the
conning tower, but none of our crew members were rescued
by the submarine. … They were just looking until the Coast
Guard arrived." Admiral Fargo retorted that three-to-four-foot
waves precluded the possibility of opening hatches and jumping
into the rescue effort. Onishi, however, disagreed, insisting
that conditions may not have been perfectly tranquil, but
they were calm enough for life rafts. Then, slowly
but surely, the official story began to unravel. . .
hopes faded that the missing Japanese fishing students and
their two teachers would ever be found, the families of
the lost ones and the Japanese government appealed to the
US to raise the Ehime Maru and recover the bodies,
but US officials refused to even consider it: National Transportation
Safety Board investigator John Hammerschmidt declared that
he saw no reason at present to raise the ship. Reuters
reported that "he did not believe it was necessary to
bring the ship up to discover accident details, but he added
he might change that view as the probe progressed." Once
again the barbarous gaijin
had demonstrated their unreconstructed barbarity for all
the world to see! Savages at least, the modern
kind do not take death very seriously, because for
them human life is cheap especially the lives of
those they consider enemies, or, in this case, former enemies.
And what, after all, are nine Japanese in the face of nearly
5,000 children a month who die in Iraq as a direct
result of the US-imposed sanctions? What with the perpetual
bombing, we knock off more than nine Iraqis in a few hours!
hallmark of savagery is its unconsciousness, and this invincible
ignorance was on full display in Hammerschmidt's remarks:
failing to understand or appreciate the distinctively Japanese
sense of profound awe at the phenomenon of death, he failed
to grasp the cultural imperative of recovering the bodies.
But what can one expect from barbarians, whose ancestors
were still living in mud huts and, in some cases,
trees when the Japanese tea ceremony was already
a high art and a living god sat upon the Chrysanthemum Throne?
if this shocking arrogance and disregard for the spirits
of the dead were not enough, the US government was still
suspiciously tightlipped about the details, days after the
accident, and already going into full obfuscation mode.
On Feb.12, ABC
News reported, as the furor picked up, that "there
is no evidence that the crew of a US Navy submarine did
anything wrong as they practiced an emergency surfacing
maneuver that resulted in a collision with a Japanese fishing
vessel, but there will be 'an absolutely clear and transparent
investigation,' National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice
said today." But something wasn't right, and the
Japanese knew it: "It is so troublesome that the navy of
our military ally is in such a mess," quipped Shizuka Kamei,
the influential Liberal Democratic Party leader, and the
sting in this remark was in its subtlety. But of course
the navy of the mighty United States of America could hardly
be in that much of a mess so much so that one of
its submarines, equipped with the most sophisticated equipment
imaginable, could have failed to detect the Ehime Maru.
Was such a thing possible? This was the question that Japanese
were asking but it was taking forever for
the US government to answer.
the emotional tremors sweeping over Japan put Prime Minister
Yoshiro Mori in a seismically dangerous
position. The report that, on hearing the news, he had
simply continued his golf game, seemed emblematic of the
dithering impotency of Japanese officialdom in the face
of the Supreme Superpower's depredations. Disarmed after
the war, disintegrating economically after the burst of
the 1980's inflationary bubble, and disoriented culturally
in the face of globalization, for Japan the pain and humiliation
of the Ehime Maru disaster seems emblematic of the
social and political malaise that permeates Japanese society.
They may have lost their empire, a good deal of their wealth,
and their sense of cultural rootedness, but why, they wondered,
has Japan also lost its dignity?
the clamor in Japan rose, President Bush finally
called Mori personally, instead of just issuing a press
release, and the US relented, somewhat, and decided that
it would "consider"
raising the sunken fishing vessel and possibly recovering
the bodies, a typically graceless gesture that only piled
injury on insult. Then came the ultimate insult: the news,
by an anonymous Pentagon official, that a civilian
among 16 aboard had been at the helm of the
sub when it surfaced and crushed the Ehime Maru.
But don't worry, said the official, "the civilian was under
careful supervision at the time" and "the move was not highly
unusual and apparently had no influence on the collision."
Now the whole structure of lies and "spin" began to crack
apart at its foundations, and come crashing to the ground,
as the news hit the wires that no
less than two civilians had been at two out of
three control boards! Oh, what a tangled web we weave
as they say in the West when first we practice to
FOR "OPINION LEADERS"
to finally admit the truth, US military authorities stubbornly
maintained that there was "no evidence" that having
2 civilians at two of the steering wheels had anything to
do with the tragedy, and refused to say whether or not the
civilians aboard might have been a distraction; although,
they averred, it was possible.
But the esteemed editors of Time magazine told us,
definitively, that "Civilians
at Sub's Controls Had No Significance in Killer Crash,"
as the headline on their story put it. We also learned,
from Time's Pentagon correspondent, Mark Thompson,
that these civilian joyrides, far from being unusual, are
a regular feature of our naval operations: "Like the other
services, the Navy routinely takes batches of so-called
'opinion leaders' on tours of their operations, to show
off their various platforms," he said. "And an emergency
blow is a neat time to be aboard a sub." Like children showing
off their "neat" and highly expensive toys, the US military
was engaged in courting political support among "opinion
leaders" which it refuses to name in order
to buy more. The Navy has a whole program, called
Tiger," which amounts to an open invitation to "friends
of sailors" and "VIPs" to "Come play with us!" And that
is why nine Japanese, including six teenagers, had to die.
spite of growing
questions, authorities continued to deny that the presence
of civilians was a contributing factor in the accident,
insisting that the commander of the vessel had control of
the sub at all times. When it turned out that the joyride
had been arranged by retired Admiral Richard C. Macke, however,
the irony and serendipity of this coincidence was almost
too much for the Japanese to bear. Admiral Macke, once the
commander of US forces in the Pacific, had been forced to
retire after declaring that the US soldiers who raped a
young Japanese girl in Okinawa in 1995 should have gone
to see a Japanese prostitute instead. Such a development
seems almost too poetic for reality: one might expect to
see it in a work of fiction, perhaps in a novel by Yukio
Mishima, but to see it enacted in reality is to witness
that rare and delightful event: when life imitates art.
MISHIMA: THE POET AS PROPHET
cannot help but think that the restive spirit of the tumultuous
Mishima must be rolling over in his grave. Here in the ritual
humiliation of Japanese pride is his worst nightmare and
dire warning come true. Mishima was a prodigiously talented
novelist, whose books were bestsellers both in Japan and
in the West: he is the author of Forbidden
of a Mask, The
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and The
Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, among others.
He was also a poet, dramatist, essayist, and man of action,
a Japanese nationalist whose critique of Japan's "smiling
full-bellied peace" was succinctly summarized in one of
his long poems:
is decried, the body disdained
has lost its substance
and grief alike vanish in an instant
is marketed, dissipation enfeebled
is dulled, sharpness blunted
and manly spirits have fled the earth. . . ."
modernity, he declared, would kill them all (slowly) with
its "tediousness" and "insipidness": what was missing was
a "sense of peril." Mishima traced the fatal decadence of
his nation to that fateful day, in the ashen aftermath of
World War II, when the Emperor declared that he was, after
all, just another mortal, and not a god at all. In his famous
unclassifiable work is it a story, an essay, a polemical
vision? "Voices of the Heroic Dead," the departed
spirits of the kamikazee pilots come back to haunt
the Japanese, complaining that their sacrifice was in vain
and plaintively asking, in a constant refrain, "Nadote
Sumerogi wa hito to naritamaishi?" ("Why did the Emperor
have to become a human being?") In the person of the divinized
Emperor, held Mishima, was the union of the sword and the
chrysanthemum, the nation and the culture of Japan: with
the passing of this national myth, and its replacement by
the Western institution of constitutional monarchy, the
spirit and culture of Nippon was betrayed and abandoned
in favor of all-out Westernization. Mishima's political
stance was dramatized in many novels, as well as argued
in essays: read today, his stories can be put in the category
of prophetic fiction.
PROPHETIC FICTION OF YUKIO MISHIMA
Horses depicts the young Isao, who is inspired to
join an officer's rebellion by a pamphlet written issued
by the "League of the Divine Wind": the pamphlet, which
takes up a full fifty pages of the novel, tells the story
of the 1876 Shinpuren Incident, the romantic revolt of the
old samurai against Westernization. It was the era of the
Restoration, and the last partisans of traditional Japanese
culture the last "virulent and manly spirits"
were in despair. They implored the Shinto gods for guidance.
Should they rise up and fight for the Old Japan?
OF THE GODS
the answer was no, but finally, when all samurai were commanded
to turn in their swords and trim off their traditional top-knots,
came the last straw: this time, the gods reported back favorably.
The samurai band prepared for battle by praying.
They disdained Western weapons, and armed themselves with
swords and spears. When, on their way into battle, they
had to pass under Western telegraph wires, they shielded
their heads with white fans, lest they become contaminated
by Western emanations. (A nice touch!) While the samurai
are not totally ineffectual a general and a couple
of politicians are killed against the guns of the
local garrison their spears and swords are ineffectual.
Faced with this failure, they all but one
ritual suicide, with a whole group of them ascending a mountain
and performing this ancient rite as perfectly, solemnly,
and bloodily as it was meant to be carried out. Mishima
loved the purity of these men and their doomed, heroic action:
it was, to him, a shining example of how action can
embody and give meaning to life, even as that life snuffs
itself out of existence.
NI ROKU THE TURNING POINT
too, is inspired by this vision of purity, and joins a conspiracy
to overthrow the government, and restore the authority of
the emperor: but he is betrayed in the end by the corruption
and baseness that is already infiltrating Japanese culture.
At his trial he and his comrades are matter-of-factly unrepentant:
this was their Shinpuren Incident, an act of purity in an
impure, corrupting world. Runaway Horses, and also
famous short story "Patriotism" a long, involved
and very bloody depiction of ritual seppuku
are Mishima's homage to an actual historical event, the
Ni Ni Roku Incident of 1936 a key turning point in
the history of modern Japan. It was the occasion of the
final struggle between the two principal factions of the
Japanese armed forces: the Kodo-ha, or Imperial Way
faction, which favored going to war with the Soviet Union;
and the Tosei-ha or "Control" faction, which wanted
to strike south against the British, French, and other European
colonialist powers. The conflict came when a large number
of Kodo-ha soldiers were ordered shipped out to Manchuria
leaving Tokyo in the hands of the "Controllers."
In a preemptive strike, Kodo-ha officers seized the
center of Tokyo after killing three prominent members of
the government. In spite of their proclamation that they
were doing it for the Emperor, who had been led astray by
evil, traitorous advisers, Hirohito denounced them and demanded
they surrender. The Kodo-ha rebellion was crushed
in four days, its leaders imprisoned, and executed. Japan's
fate was sealed.
Sailors Who Fell From Grace With the Sea
It Something In the Water?
Over Baghdad: The Blair Factor
Rich: Treason is the Reason
the Empire, Stupid
Up With the Saudis?
is Ariel Sharon?
Myth of the Saddam Bomb
We to Be Spared Nothing?
Mad Bombers of Belgrade Blame Their Victims
on the Right
War Follies: There's No Business Like Show Business
Fireworks Over Iraq?
Versus the Smear Machine
Gulf War In Retrospect: the "Isolationists" Were Right
War Criminals, and Theirs
New Bolivar: Hugo Chavez and the Rise of Pan-American
to the International Kangaroo Court
Canonization of Colin Powell
Government Invades the Internet
New Cold War: Who's Afraid of Vladimir Putin?
Case for Pessimism
Gore Coup: No Justice, No Peace No Exit
or Gore: Pick Your War
Bush, and the Imperial Style
and Neocons: An Unholy Alliance
Gore The O.J. Simpson of American Politics
d'Etat 2000 and the Madness of Al Gore
and Gore: Peas in a Pod
Coup Radicalizes Republicans
Dimple That Shook the World
Soldier, You Can Stop the Gore Coup
Ways to Steal an Election
Occupied America: Rage Against "The Regime"
Gore's Beer Hall Putsch
Message to My Readers
Real Victors: Nader & Buchanan
"Hail Mary" Pass May Work
Dubya: Bush Backtracks on Kosovo
Smearing of Ralph Nader
the Balkans, and the Bipartisan "Division of Labor"
the War Goddess
Valediction: The Golden Age
Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love
Middle East: War Without End
Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners
on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters
of the Little Guys
Folly: Sympathy for the Devil
Gambit: Will It Work?
in Cyber-Politics, Revisited
Return of Pat Buchanan
Vindication of Wen Ho Lee
the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation
Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare
and the US Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy
Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones
The Deja Vu War
to Cartagena: An Inauspicious Visit
of the Party-Snatchers
Read This Book!
on Kosovo Turning on a Dime
Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?
Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities
Kosovo? Follow the Money!
Justin Raimondo Archives
Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He
is also the author of Reclaiming
the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative
Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J.
Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire:
The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996).
He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig
von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior
Fellow at the Center
for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for
A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author
Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
(forthcoming from Prometheus Books).
LIED US INTO WAR
would have been Nippon's course had the Imperial Way faction triumphed
in their revolution, and attacked the Soviet Union, leaving the
West unmolested? Perhaps the sad truth that Mishima proclaimed
in vain to the Japanese people that Japan had been literally
castrated, and transformed into a eunuch among nations
might have been avoided. However, as we now know, Franklin Delano
Roosevelt was determined to get America into the war by the "back
Robert Stinnett points out in his widely-discussed bombshell
of a book, Day of Deceit, the American President knew all
about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese code
had been broken, and their messages had been intercepted
and thus actively collaborated in the "day that will live in infamy."
That some Japanese
are now mustering the courage to say, in public, what every
historian knows as virtually incontrovertible fact that
Roosevelt "lied us into war," as Clare Boothe Luce famously put
it is a sign that the spirit of Japan is not dead, just
sleeping. Perhaps, soon, it will awaken.
the summer of 1969, a young Japanese who thought of himself as
a patriot and was not tied to any extremist organization, either
of the right or the left, tried to stab the American secretary
of state, William Rogers, at Tokyo airport. As the perpetrator
explained it, while he had no personal grudge against Rogers,
his action was in retaliation for the bayoneting of Japanese who
had taken part in demonstrations against American military bases
on Okinawa. Writing in the London Guardian [September 24,
1969], Mishima deplored the general heaping of abuse on the would-be
assassin, by both the left and the right. While declaring straightforwardly
that he did not support this terrorist act, or its terroristic
spirit, he nevertheless sought to explain it as a phenomenon,
to analyze it without looking through the distorting lens of hysteria.
Just as Japanese intellectuals sought to bury the history of the
Shinpuren Incident as something shameful, an example of "Japanese
fanaticism and irrationality," so, said Mishima, they failed to
understand that the action of the youth at Tokyo airport was also
a "strikingly pure act of resistance," a symbolic protest against
the price of modernity. "Japan," he wrote, "has tried to show
only one side of herself, one side of a moon, to the West, while
pushing on busily with modernization." It has shown only the "light
side" the Apollonian spirit, rational and pacifistic. But
this required the "great sacrifice" of the "totality of culture,"
which, he averred, "must embrace lightness and darkness equally."
it now time for the dark side of the Japanese to reassert itself?
It is a development that Mishima would have cheered, and indeed
did his best to inspire. Alas, it wasn't enough. For his fictional
works were a map of his life course: in real life, he followed
his imagined destiny to the letter, reenacting the recurring plot
of his fictional creations, in which purity is martyred in a signal
act of defiance. On November 25, 1970, Mishima and a few of his
followers walked into the Tokyo headquarters of the Japanese Defense
Force and took its commanding officer, General Kanetoshi Mashita,
hostage: then they made their demands. The troops must be called
out to gather beneath a balcony, where Mishima would have the
chance to address them unmolested. The shocked authorities
Mishima was a famous writer, and it was as if Ernest Hemingway
had taken over the White House allowed it. The soldiers
gathered, and Mishima stood on a parapet and exhorted them to
throw out the "peace constitution" that had disarmed the nation,
reunite the sword and the chrysanthemum, and restore the status
of the Emperor as the living repository of Japanese culture and
SUMEROGI WA HITO TO NARITAMAISHI?
course, these were not the samurai of the Shinpuren Incident,
or the heroic army officers of the Ni Ni Roku rebellion, but the
decadent scions of the "smiling, full-bellied peace," the sons
of timid clerks and "office
ladies" they had joined a "defense force," not a real
army, but a pretense and a shadow. The shadow warriors booed Mishima,
and it is doubtful that they even heard his message, shouted hoarsely
over their jeers. He urged them to rise up, to take back their
country and their tradition: to reclaim their heritage as the
key to building a meaningful future. The jeers grew louder. He
had planned a half hour speech oh, the naïve conceit
of writers! but after about ten minutes of booing he withdrew
with his followers and you know the rest. The ritual suicide
of Mishima and two of his followers shocked Japan, and stunned
the world. Foreshadowed in his work, the end of his life was a
radical protest against the insipid pleasures of a fat and happy
Japan, content to export cheap goods to the US and live without
honor or meaning. Now that Japan is no longer quite so fat, and
is chafing under the rude "protection" of its Imperial overlord,
Mishima's attempt to act as the conscience of Japan, to play the
role of the ghost come back to haunt his betrayers, seems prescient.
"Nadote Sumerogi wa hito to naritamaishi?" It is a question
that translates, today, into: when will Japan get up off its
HERO AS "MADMAN"
very own Shinpuren Incident a romantic attempt to awaken
the conscience and the spirit of Japan, to give it back its soul
was misunderstood and ridiculed, especially by his enemies
on the left. He died at the height of his mental and physical
powers, having written over 100 novels, plays, poems, and short
stories, not counting his literary and political essays: and,
besides that, he was an athlete, and even acted in films. He was
famous in Japan, nominated three times for a Nobel Prize (now
those lefties will never give it to him!), and his heroic
act was generally derided as the act of a madman. In a world gone
mad, the hero is inevitably considered demented. In retrospect,
Mishima's analysis of the Japanese dilemma gives us insight into
the current spiritual torment endemic in Nippon if such
a word as "torment" can be used to describe the long, slow absorption
of a unique culture into the miasma of global McCulture. Japan,
said Mishima, is a country occupied by a foreign power both culturally
and militarily: today, it is plain to see, it is an Imperial protectorate
ruled directly from Washington. But Mishima hoped it would not
always be so. "In the first twenty years of my life," he wrote,
culture was controlled by the unnatural Puritanism of the militarists.
For the past twenty years, pacifism has been sitting heavily on
the samurai spirit . . . The hypocrisy of the authorities has
permeated the minds of the people, who can find no way out. Wherever
national culture seeks to regain its totality, almost insane incidents
occur. Such phenomena are interpreted as the undercurrent of Japanese
nationalism, intermittently bursting out like lava through cracks
in a volcano."
arrogance of the World's Only Superpower is what is striking about
this whole shameful episode, and this is bound to produce a Japanese
reaction: if it isn't today, then perhaps it will have to wait
for the next time some grunt grabs a Japanese girl and has his
way with her. In any case, the news that Mt. Fuji is about to
erupt is, perhaps, not so surprising: for it could be that in
nature, as in art, the future is foreshadowed. When oh when will
the volcano erupt? I am personally looking forward to it
and to the final vindication of Mishima's martyrdom to a Japan
that deserves to be.
CAN DO BETTER
the news that about 20 protesters showed up at a demonstration
protesting the Ehime Maru incident, and I think you guys
are going to have to do better than that! Come on, now, get it
together: get up off your knees, Japanese! Isn't it time to throw
the Americans out of your country, and throw out the "peace" constitution
that forbids self-defense and leaves you wide open to the possibility
of Chinese or, more likely, North Korean aggression? And while
you're at it, demand a seat in the United Nations Security Council,
and rejoin the community of nations as an equal. The world war
is long over, but in their zeal to exact a 100-year vengeance,
it seems the "Allies" of yesteryear are doing their best
to provoke another one.
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