June 7, 2000


In the New World Order Bill Clinton and his pals are building for us, all nationalism is a hate crime: even the least expression (by a non-Westerner, that is) of the idea that one's country is unique is considered to be nothing short of Hitlerian. So when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori described his nation, in a speech to a Shintoist association, as "a divine nation with the Emperor at its core," he set off a firestorm of controversy that outraged commentators both at home and abroad. The London Times huffed that Mori had "set off a barrage of criticism by parading his nostalgia for an ideology used to justify Japan's aggression before and during the Second World War." A Washington Post editorial opined that such sentiments "show that this nationalism includes nostalgia for the mystical chauvinism that drove Japan's expansionist drive into Asia and ultimately its war with America." Naturally, nobody blinks when Americans refer to their own country as "one nation under God," or when Madeleine Albright declares that the US is "the indispensable nation." And certainly no one would even think of interpreting the words of the British theme song, "Rule Britannia," as nostalgia for the days of Empire, in spite of the ferocity and explicitly imperialistic tone of the words: Albion shall be not only "the dread and envy of them all," but also, as the chorus proclaims, a constant danger to nations of a more pacific character:

"Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke.
More dreadful, more dreadful
From each foreign stroke.
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak."


Why doesn't this qualify as British "mystical chauvinism" – of a sort that energized the Empire's drive into virtually every continent on earth? But naturally the "chauvinism" of the Japanese is necessarily "mystical," being part of the Mysterious Orient and all. God, those Brits are insufferable, aren't they? I mean, get a load of this London Times headline: JAPANESE LEADER'S WARTIME NOSTALGIA PROVOKES WRATH. I am beginning to see some justice in Britain's draconian libel laws, and if I were Mr. Mori I would immediately take full advantage of them. For this is nothing but an outright lie: Mori's comments have nothing to do with "wartime nostalgia," but with nostalgia for a culture that predates World War II by a couple of thousand years. According to the unwritten but strictly-interpreted New World Order Rule Book, however, only Western nations are allowed to claim divine sanction for their unique identity – and Japan is a special case.


Defeated in World War II, and completely remade in the image of its conqueror, Japan today is showing signs that the Westernized grafts implanted by MacArthur are wilting on the vine. Against the universalist conceit of the Western democracies that one size fits all, a new Japanese nationalism is on the rise, best expressed in the title of a bestselling book by Shintaro Ishihara, the colorful mayor of Tokyo: The Japan That Can Say "No!". Ishihara decries the continuing military occupation of Japan, and seeks to reclaim his country's independence in every sense. His is a critique of American hegemony not only in world politics, but as the carrier of the global mono-culture that seeks to overwhelm and assimilate everything in its path:

"There is a chieftain in the Truk Islands, who speaks Japanese, and who said that since the Japanese left, their children have only learned to be lazy as the Americans give aid-money and things which spoil human beings. If you give people lettuce seeds, they will learn to grow lettuce, but if you give them money they will simply import lettuce and learn nothing. America is reluctant to recognize the importance and value of local cultures. Christian missionaries do not permit the natives to chant their charms and they prohibit the use of herbs as medicine – herbs that have traditionally been used in healing sicknesses, found in certain localities and used according to local customs. Local festivals are banned so that traditional songs and dances are forgotten. Tradition is dismantled. Americans force other cultures to give up their traditional value and impose American culture upon them. And they do not even recognize that this is an atrocity – a barbaric act!"


But London Times reporter Roberty Whymant simply cannot understand why any Japanese would think to question their subjugation, sixty years after their defeat. The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon world conquerors is, it seems, limitless, and the Times is utterly appalled at Mori's outburst. The furor erupted, we are informed "when he defended his use of the emotive word kokutai, which before 1945 referred to the supposed unique nature of Japan under a divine emperor, who ruled his subjects as a father over his children." Heaven forfend that a constitutional monarch should be considered an object of veneration, while having some role in the semi-official state religion – unless that monarch be the Queen of England and we are talking about the Church of England.


The Times goes on to assert that the term kokutai has "rarely [been] heard since Japan's wartime defeat" – the implication that this represents some sort of upsurge in ultra-nationalistic (and implicitly dangerous) sentiment in Japanese politics. But this is just a fabrication, for kokutai is the name of one of Japan's biggest national sports events, not to mention that the Japanese Air Force is organized into units known as "kokutai." An "emotive term," perhaps – but one "rarely heard"? I think not. To the ordinary Japanese, it signifies a sports event, but the original concept is hidden in the mists of Japanese history. As far as the Tokyo bureau of the Times is concerned, however, the history of Japan does not extend much beyond 1937, when the idea was used by the wartime regime to justify a policy of expansionism.


Prime Minister Mori, it seems, has become the Joerg Haider of the Orient, at least in the eyes of Western journalists, and the largely Socialist opposition quickly took up the cry of the Westerners: the Prime Minister is trying to "turn back the clock" they cried, and the demand went up: apologize or resign! Mori apologized to his Liberal Democratic Party colleagues at a party conference for "causing a nuisance" and embroiling the whole party in the controversy. But he made it clear that he wasn't apologizing to the Americans and their Japanese fifth column: "It was not a slip of the tongue," he insisted, "I didn't say I retracted it." The fix is in for Mori, who in the eyes of the Western media and their Japanese echo chamber has become a Japanese version of Pat Buchanan. The Associated Press headline blared: JAPANESE LEADER UNDER SIEGE, and the reader was treated to a morality tale of what happens when one of those Japs gets out of line:

"Yoshiro Mori is a leader under siege. Polls show public support plunging fast. The opposition is hitting hard, accusing him of violating the constitution and demanding his resignation. Even his own party is having doubts. The rapid disintegration of the prime minister's power base comes less than a month after he swept into office to replace an ailing predecessor – and just weeks before his mandate goes to the test in national elections. The pressure kept up today, when ruling coalition members defeated an opposition-sponsored censure motion against Mori in the upper house calling on him to dissolve his Cabinet."


The reality is that Mori's Liberal Democratic Party, in alliance with two other parties, is not about to lose control of the government in the upcoming elections: the biggest rebuke came from a ruling party bigwig who said that the Prime Minister "should be more careful when he speaks" – so as not to unduly alarm the stupid foreigners, especially the arrogant Americans and their British sidekicks, by impolitely saying out loud what everyone believes to begin with. Although the LDP easily beat the opposition's no-confidence motion, Mori boldly dissolved the legislature and challenged his critics to face him at the polls – not exactly the move of a chastened man. Let the foreigners rant and rail all they like: their ravings will only increase Japanese resentment and add up to an increased LDP margin of victory. Make no mistake: Japanese nationalism is on the rise, a development that could – but probably won't – be a major plus for America.


As the Washington Post editorial put it, "when Japan's prime minister describes his nation as 'a divine country with an emperor at its center,' American policy makers need to sit up and pay attention." Yes, but what kind of attention? The Post is not so sure. On the one hand, we are told that "the rise of some kind of nationalism in Japan is probably inevitable, and the United States should not resist it," on the other hand the editors are more than a little nervous that

"Japan's new assertiveness could also take an anti-American direction. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's recent remarks are especially striking, because they come at a time when he is anxious to present himself as a good internationalist ahead of next month's G8 summit, which Japan is hosting. Moreover, they follow calls for a national holiday to honor Hirohito, the wartime emperor, and last year's legalization of the flag and anthem that recall the war effort. Three years ago a film glorifying Hideki Tojo, the leader who was executed at the end of the war by the occupying U.S. forces, attracted millions of moviegoers. The producers are at work on sequels about kamikaze pilots and the shining effort to 'liberate' Indonesia. Japan, in sum, is caught between two nationalisms: one welcome and one threatening."


But why shouldn't the Japanese have a national holiday in honor of their late Emperor – and, more to the point, why should Americans or foreigners of any sort have a say in what holidays the Japanese celebrate? I don't recall anyone consulting Tokyo when we decided to obliterate the memory of Washington and Jefferson under the generic "Presidents' Day," and elevate Martin Luther King in their place. It seem no detail is too subtle to escape the notice of our would-be global overlords, and the Post, as the voice of the Imperial City, is posturing not only as the arbiter of political correctness but of cultural hygiene – right down to what movies are deemed "threatening." But to depict Tojo in a less caricatured light than has been the wont of Western court historians is not the same as "glorifying" him – and one can only wonder how many Washington Post editors actually saw (and understood) the movie they are denouncing. Instead of a Japanese version of Triumph of the Will, the movie, Pride, is described by the Japan Times (not exactly a hotbed of rightwing revisionism and emperor-worship) as a "fairly reasonable" study that "seems to reflect the historical facts more or less faithfully. There is nothing particularly incendiary about it. It comes across as a disinterested portrayal of Tojo." But any depiction of Tojo as other than a mustache-twirling villain is impermissible, along with any reevaluation of the wartime – and especially the prewar – era.


All Americans want to know about the US war in the Pacific is that those "Japs" bombed Pearl Harbor, didn't they, in what is almost universally described as a "sneak attack." Never mind that evidence has long since been uncovered that FDR knew all about the coming attack, and indeed had done his best to provoke it – never mind that Japan was subjected to deadly economic sanctions, an act of war that preceded the formal declaration, at the instigation of the US and Great Britain – and please forget the numerous entreaties of the Japanese Ambassador and the government, including the Emperor himself, to secure peace at almost any price. Down they go into the Memory Hole, along with such outmoded ideas as kokutai (i.e. national sovereignty and patriotism). These concepts have been practically eradicated from elite circles in the West, whose members take great pride in thinking of themselves as citizens of the world, but tradition is not so easily defeated in a country where it dates back at least two thousand years.


The Japanese economy is facing a series of shocks, particularly in its dangerously weak banking sector, and the protectionist and corporatist policies of the LDP are what made the economy sick to begin with. The idea that the Japanese must eat only Japanese rice, and that only native companies can be allowed to compete in Japanese markets, is an aspect of kokutai – the essence of Japan's unique national character – that can only hurt Japan's already seriously weakened economy. But the application of the concept to the geopolitical realm is exactly what is needed in Asia – and is an answer to the prayers of American opponents of overseas intervention. The Japan That Can Say No must begin to defend and assert itself, and in the process relieve the US of the responsibility for Taiwan and South Korea. As the only possible counterweight to the threat of Chinese expansionism in the region, Japan must be allowed to develop as a normal nation, and the US occupation must be ended. Okinawa is a prefecture of Japan, but it is under effective military occupation as a forward base for US troops in the Pacific – a source of growing resentment among ordinary Japanese. The rapes and other crimes committed by American soldiers are notorious throughout Japan, and are the focus of a native Okinawan movement to get the US off their island.


Japanese politicians like Mori are right to underscore and even celebrate their country's unique character. Ishihara is to be applauded for his courageous stand against the American hegemon – and honored by Americans who recognize in him a fellow patriot. For the builders of a New World Order do not discriminate in their hatred of all nationalism, including especially the American variety. Let any US politician raise the banner of American nationalism, and declare that we need a foreign policy that puts "America First," and all hell will break loose: he will be denounced as a dastardly "isolationist," a political Neanderthal who must be forever banished to the fever swamps of "extremism." Just ask Pat Buchanan. But the point is that this principle also applies abroad: let anyone, anywhere, propose that we start dismantling the trip-wires set up in the wake of a devastating world war, and they are immediately demonized, asked to apologize, and otherwise pilloried and smeared until they are driven out of public life. Let any head of state question or even subtly subvert the legitimacy of the Pax Americana, and suddenly they are Hitler reincarnated, sanctions are imposed, and the "humanitarians" of the 81st Airborne are put on high alert. With the US State Department and its "human rights" amen corner openly seeking the ouster of Peru's Fujimori, how long before they go after Japan's Mori?


It is interesting to note the great disparity in the treatment of America's former enemies among the Axis powers. We are handing Europe over to Germany, which is achieving the war aims of the Third Reich without a shot being fired, but Japan must continue to live a stunted existence, held in place and frozen in time, captive in the moment of its greatest defeat. Apparently the Japanese have yet to work off the weight of their war guilt. Yet the attempt to assign war-guilt to Japan and Japan alone, and the hysterical reaction to films like Pride in the West, can only create a dangerous backlash that we will live to regret. The Post avers that Japanese nationalism can play a positive role only if it arises in the context of the Japanese-American "allliance." "But if the Japanese feel ignored, old resentments of the West may be revived; and Japan may start to doubt the wisdom of relying on the United States for its security." The obvious question, now that the cold war is ended, has to be asked: why shouldn't they start providing for their own security? The policy of collective security in the Pacific means, in effect, that the US stands as the guarantor of regional stability: our official defense policy is to be able to run a two-front war, in the Pacific and European theaters, as well as a low-level insurgency somewhere in the Third World. This is why our "defense" budget is more than the military outlays of all other nations in the world combined – a crushing burden on the US taxpayers that cannot be sustained.


In treasure – and human lives – the price of Empire is too high, and our rulers know it. That is why the policy of "Japan First" expounded by Mori and Ishihara frightens the internationalists at the Washington Post as much as "America First" sends a chill down their collective spine when we "isolationists" utter it here at home. Ishihara and Mori in the East, and Buchanan and others in the West, are the first line of resistance to the global governance project embarked on by our transnational corporate and bureaucratic elites. It was inevitable that the sophisticated and in many ways superior culture of ancient Nippon would come under attack by the globalizers, who see it as one of the last bastions of stubborn resistance to the corporate mono-culture of MTV, McDonald's, and multiculturalism. Japan is under increasing pressure from international agencies to relax its strict immigration controls, including from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Sadako Ogata. So far they have resisted, but the political and economic pressures are bound to increase. In the context of continuing economic problems, this could produce an upsurge in nationalist sentiment – and a boost for Mori and his fellow Japan-Firsters.


It is time for the American occupation of Japan – and the entire Far East – to end: the string of US military bases that make up our Pacific empire are a blight on the countries forced to host them, and promote social instability, economic distortions, and grotesque cultural distortions, generating considerable anti-American feeling. This military presence is not only costly in terms of tax dollars – and no longer justified (if it ever was) by the cold war – but also outright dangerous: for it ensures that the US will be dragged into every local conflict, no matter how minor. Do we really want to oversee and police the dissolution of Indonesia? Why risk a nuclear missile attack by a "rogue" nation like North Korea by stationing tens of thousands of troops on their border and threatening them (as Clinton did) with war – why not let the Japanese take care of them? Surely what happens on the Korean peninsula is a vital national interest of Japan's – just as surely as it is none of our business. It is time to let Japan take her rightful place among the world's nations – or else the Japanese will have no choice but to take it themselves.

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Justin 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 U.S. 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 Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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