A LEAD BALLOON
that he would mark the anniversary of Japan's World War II
surrender to the Allies by paying his respects at the Yasukuni
Shrine, where Japan's war dead are buried, the Prime Minister
backed down at the last minute and chose to move his visit
up a few days. This satisfied exactly no one. The Reuters
headline read: "Japan PM
hit from all sides day after shrine visit." If this was
an attempt at "statesmanship," it went over like a lead balloon.
usual suspects Japan-bashers, both gaijin and homegrown
used the occasion to drive home the point that Japan "had
not squarely faced its past," as the Washington Post
put it. Asahi Shimbun the voice of Japan's liberal
internationalist intelligentsia bleated that Koizumi's
decision to visit the shrine at all was "not worthy of praise."
Beijing declared that the visit was not only an "insult" to
the Chinese people, but also evidence of a revival of Japanese
"militarism": small demonstrations staged by the Communist
Party were given wide (and sympathetic) coverage in the West.
In Korea, demonstrators
cuts off the tips of their fingers in protest, declaring
that they would mail their severed members to Koizumi. How
lame. Now, if they had taken themselves really seriously,
they would have committed seppuku Japanese ritual
suicide for the delectation of the television cameras.
back in the US, Ted
Koppel interviewed four "experts" on Nightline
a Korean Japan-hater, a Chinese Japan-hater, an American
Japan-hater, and a self-hating Japanese from the Asahi
Shimbun (where else?). All concurred that Japan should
have marked this anniversary by groveling at the feet of "the
international community," and that its failure to do so was
evidence of a deep-seated evil. Perhaps, they agreed, instead
of being allowed to retain their Emperor, the Japanese should
have been subjected to the same single-minded indoctrination
and extended period of self-abasement demanded of Germany.
nauseating about that Nightline show trial wasn't so
much the sheer hatred of all things Japanese exuded by Koppel's
guests, but the boring unanimity of the "discussion." As Iris
Chang, author of The
Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten [sic!]
Holocaust, reiterated the Chinese Communist Party
line that a revived Japanese "militarism" is "denying history"
and represents an implied threat to China, I was reminded
of the yip-yapping of a slightly deranged dog, slavering and
baring its yellow fangs.
Bonnie Oh chimed in with the canonical narrative of the infamous
"comfort women," apparently "millions" of whom were supposedly
forced into service for the depraved pleasures of the Japanese
Imperial Army, used and abused against their will. Here feminism
is married to anti-Japanese sentiment to produce a particularly
useful form of political correctness: one that not only reinforces
the myth of Japanese war guilt, but also serves as a useful
moral bludgeon to keep the Japanese permanently in check.
That rural Korean women, and Taiwanese too, should consider
prostituting themselves to make a buck in wartime is, according
to the Official History, utterly impossible and evidence of
a criminal "revisionism." Never mind that such a common sense
explanation is self-evidently true: to raise it is to be deemed
an apologist not only for Japanese "war crimes" but also for
the patriarchal oppression of women!
It was embarrassing
for me, an admirer of Japanese culture, to watch Toshiaki
Miura, a political correspondent for Asahi
Shimbun, try to outdo the others in the vigor and
sheer ferocity of his opposition to the alleged "threat" of
Japanese nationalism, and he almost succeeded. I say "almost"
because it was the American, one Richard Gordon, who exuded
hatred from every pore. A survivor of the Bataan death march,
Gordon is a member of "the Battling Bastards of Bataan," a
veterans' organization dedicated to memorializing their ordeal,
and to eternal vengeance. He did not make arguments, but merely
frothed at the mouth, his fleshy face exuding sweat and hatred.
"news" programs are now being conducted like a court session
in The Hague is indicative of the totalitarian political culture
enveloping the emerging world order. To include a representative
of the view that Japan has no more to apologize for than any
of the other combatants in that war and more, that Japan
had no choice but to fight or submit either to Western occupation
or the Russians might have unsettled Koppel's famous hair.
Oh, how I wish Yukio
Mishima had not committed suicide in a brash and beautiful
protest against the gelding of Japan: he would have
known how to answer Ms. Chang with the aphorism of some long-dead
Shinto priest, the sharpness of his point muffled with good-natured
laughter. Since he is no longer with us and would not
have been invited on Ted Koppel's kangaroo court even if he
were, in spite of being, roughly, the Japanese equivalent
of, Ernest Hemingway and Gore Vidal, in terms of literary
renown and critical acclaim it was left to his friend,
Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara to reproach Koizumi from the
right. Ishihara was clearly embarrassed that the Prime Minister
of Japan should have come to such a sacred place so furtively,
and shamefully, dashing through the shrine like a thief in
the night. He should have come on the day of the anniversary,
said Ishihara, who wondered when Japan would be accorded the
prerogatives afforded other countries.
MYTH OF JAPANESE
The US has
been busy celebrating World War II as a great boon, rather
than a tragedy, a time when America was at its best, pumping
up the image of the heroic FDR to the size of one of those
giant pictures of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao that the Commies
always carried in their endless parades. The "Pearl Harbor"
movie, the endless pontifications of our favorite McHistorians
the Doris Kearns Goodwins and Arthur Schlesingers the
ceaseless smearing of the so-called "isolationists" who dared
to question Roosevelt's relentless drive to war it all
rests on the myth of Japanese war guilt. I have covered this
topic in past columns: the works of Robert
Stinnett and Thomas Fleming represent a powerful challenge
to that myth, one that I believe is unanswerable. As Clare
Booth Luce put it, FDR "lied us into war," just as he tricked
the Japanese into firing the first shot . But even if you
don't accept the so-called "revisionist" case for FDR's elaborate
plan to get us into the war through the "back door," and dismiss
it all out of hand as an unverifiable "conspiracy theory,"
then there is the diplomatic history. Tokyo's cables to its
embassies in the US and Moscow, as well as military communications
in the Pacific, were intercepted and decoded by the Americans
and the British. FDR knew the Japanese were just as desperate
for peace as he was for war, and the record shows that they
tried to negotiate access to vital raw materials without going
to war right up until the last moment. And the Americans dare
speak of Japanese "war guilt"?! They presume to demand endless
acts of contrition and self-abasement for having committed
the sin of self-defense?
IN THE MAINSTREAM?
Chinese, who killed more of their own people during the Cultural
Revolution than ever were massacred at Nanking, have the nerve
to say anything, even as they massacre and torture hundreds
of thousands in China's gulag, is the kind of grim humor that
characterizes our era: an age in which hypocrisy and cant
have become high art forms. In a rare, and telling, confluence
of opinion between the government of North Korea and Western
public opinion, it was the official Korean Central News Agency
that captured the spirit of the conventional wisdom:
visit to the 'shrine' paid by the Japanese chief executive
on the occasion of the day of defeat despite this
historical lesson taught by postwar political history is little
short of officially stating that the Japanese authorities
ideologically and spiritually represent militarism and ultra-nationalism."
'CLASS A' WAR CRIMINAL
This from a completely militarized
totalitarian state of Orwellian dimensions, which has killed
through purges or famine millions of its own citizens.
It's a joke, albeit a grisly one, and one Western opinion-makers
are eager to reiterate endlessly. That it is also a complete
lie makes it all the easier to disseminate. The US honors
a moral midget like Harry Truman, a man who, with a few words,
had the inhabitants of two Japanese cities utterly vaporized
why isn't the world howling about that?
you why: because the lesson we are supposed to be learning
is that resistance to the US and its allies is not only futile
but criminal. Just ask Slobodan Milosevic. Tojo is repeatedly
described as "a Class A war criminal"; but Truman killed many
more civilians than Tojo ever dreamed of. Does that make Truman
a "Class Triple-A" war criminal? It sure as h*ll does.
is buried at the Yasukuni Shrine, along with others of the
"Class A" variety, it is a "shrine to Japanese militarism,"
as the Japan-haters contend. Never mind that it was built
in the 1800s as a shrine to fallen samurai, whose spirits,
according to the Shinto
belief, are tied to that spot. Shinto itself is politically
incorrect, since it is rooted in Japanese history, and is
therefore inherently "right-wing," nationalist, and, naturally,
dangerous. Of course, all nationalism is anathema according
to the new globalist paradigm, but that one of the losers
of World War II and especially an aspiring Asiatic power
should seek to get up off its knees is utterly impermissible.
THE TRUE MEANING
of honoring the war dead, and taking the risk that they might
be remembered as the victims of Western aggression, the international
guardians of political correctness would have Koizumi vilify
them. It didn't matter that he visited early, and made a speech
that included an unequivocal apology for all the pain and
suffering inflicted by Japan during the war years. Instead
of satisfying the howling mob of unabashed Japan-bashers,
Koizumi's contrition merely emboldened them to demand that
he kowtow lower, and yet lower. This is how they would prefer
to see the Japanese: on their knees, their faces pressed to
the ground in a pose of permanent supplication. That this
attitude should be particularly vehement and unappeasable
in a nation that chose Bill Clinton as its chief executive
should hardly comes as a surprise.
no special guilt for the events of World War II: compared
to the Caucasian combatants, their role was peripheral and
reactive. The Japanese "militarists" were merely reacting
to the economic embargo imposed by the US, the British, and
the Dutch. Faced with economic strangulation or war, they
chose the latter the only honorable choice. The great crime
Tojo was not fighting for his country but picking the
wrong fight. The Japanese "militarists," including
Tojo, believed Japan had to break out of its premodern isolation
or else become a Western colony. But the question was, which
way should they strike: northward, against the Soviet Union
through Manchuko, or southward, against the British and the
Americans standing behind them? Tojo chose the latter, and
the anti-Soviet faction was crushed in a short-lived insurrection
(memorialized in Mishima's short story "Patriotism"). That
was his real crime, not the act of defending his country against
a coordinated Western assault.
that only the victors may honor their war dead is a peculiarly
triumphalist conceit, clearly predicated on the idea that
might makes right. It is meant to insult and humiliate the
Japanese in a way that singles them out as exemplars of evil,
inherently incapable of being trusted with the accouterments
and privileges afforded to other nations, such as armies,
military memorials, and all the rituals of political and cultural
sovereignty. Like naughty and even incorrigible children,
they are to be kept away from the insignia of national adulthood,
forever infantilized and rendered harmless. This is how
all nations are to be treated in the emerging world
order, but it seems the powers that be would like nothing
better than to start with Japan as a kind of test case.
AN ILL OMEN
literature is full of omens. Suddenly a flock of white cranes
will appear in the sky,or a rainbow will arc overhead, as
the harbinger of some precipitous event, for good or for ill.
This stumbling of Koizumi specifically, his failure to
appear on the appointed day was strictly symbolic. But
in Japan, which everything is symbolism, this misstep could
lead to very tangible problems. It is an ill wind that blows
for Japan, one that threatens to topple the hopes of its people
for renewal and even redemption.
economic reform, not only renewal in the material sense, but
a profound spiritual transformation has been the basis of
the Koizumi revolution from the very beginning, one that mixes
the most hardheaded pragmatism and willingness to face intractable
problems head on with the most exalted idealism and optimism.
This is the real basis for the adulation of Koizumi that has
swept Japan's political landscape clean, driving all before
it. Now, for the first time, Koizumi's momentum has been slowed,
if not quite stopped: worse yet, this kind of defeat could
be fatal. For the spiritual renewal of Japan fuels the political
and economic reform movement necessary to the country's survival.
If that flags, then the whole thing is off and Koizumi
will go down in history as a would-be reformer instead of
the savior of Japan.
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