Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Space Cadets Talking

The translated interview has already been featured on The Wall Street Journal's JapanRealTime blog (Link) and skewered by Our Man in Abiko (Link). Nevertheless, I cannot help but link to the deliciously weird battle of non-sequiturs in between crackpot Motoya Toshio and Liberal Democratic Party ideologue and now Minister of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology Shimomura Hakubun. (Link)

If and when the South Korean and Chinese news complexes come up with translations of this exchange and/or if it gets wide discussions in the Euro-American policy circles, it will come bouncing back into Japan like a 10,000 kilogram rubber ball. It could even be as helpful to Shimomura's career as Motoya's essay contest was for the career of Air Force General Tamogami Toshio. (Link)

If Shimomura is thoroughly and deservedly humiliated by this exchange of absurdities, the floodgates open for looks at the writings and remarks of Minister of General Affairs and Communications Shindo Yoshitaka and State Minister for Administrative Reforms Inada Tomomi. The pair inhale the same vapors as Shimomura, going farther than him in acting out their fantasies of defending Japan. They were a part of the trio of Diet members (the other was the former commander of Japan's forces in Iraq) who tried in August 2011 to enter South Korea in order to visit Ulleung Island, the South Korean territory closest to the disputed Dokdo islets. They were sent packing by ROK immigration officials (Link). In August this year Shindo was a member of the motley crew of Diet and local assembly members who sailed to the Senkakus to conduct an insincere and insulting memorial service for Okinawans who had starved to death on Uotsurijima. (Link)

Shimomura, Shindo and Inada are archetypal Friends of Shinzo. They are in the cabinet because Abe Shinzo wanted them there. Each one of them is a time bomb ticking away.

The PM is probably serious about a focus on the economy, the economy and the economy in the run up to the July House of Councillors election. He does, after all, want to lead the LDP to a further thumping of the Democratic Party of Japan.

The appearance in English of this bit of idle banter in between brother revisionists, however, has the potential to distract him.


Bryce said...

Reading the article, what is most interesting for me is feeling Shimomura squirm every time Motoya outlines his conspiracy theories about the United States.

However, what is most interesting about the legs that this seems to be getting on Facebook, Japan email lists, and now the WSJ is that it should be considered news. Over the years, a number of similar "dialogues" have been published in Japanese, some even in book form, where prominent right-wingers, including the current prime minister, outline their feelings about historical issues and their disdain towards the "Tokyo Trials view of history." Surely if this translated interview is important, the WSJ's journalists should have been busy dredging up the other stuff in Japanese. Unless, of course, it is not considered news unless it is in English.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Japan often comes in for criticism from the Western press on issues surrounding WWII. But even so, I find myself reluctantly agreeing with your point of view here. Furthermore, I think such attitudes (conservatism, denial, a kind of veiled nationalism and even aggression) are far more prevalent in Japanese society than your article makes clear. 文芸春秋 (bungei-shunju - for those not familiar with it, it is a highly respected, mainstream monthly publication) recently published a discussion (between high-level academics) entitled 「対中外交」はなぜ失敗するのか (Why do diplomatic relations with China fail?). In my opinion, this discussion denied Japan's role as an aggressor in WWII, and made statements about China and Chinese politics that, to be frank, were bordering on racism. I would dearly love to see the issue of Japan's attitude towards its neighbours in Asia debated in the national press with compassion and balance.

Bryce said...

I haven't seen the article on Japan-China relations that you mention. Do you know the month of the issue? In any case, I'm not sure I agree with you about the "prevalence" of nationalism in Japan. Part of the political elite has always had strange ideas about history, but even now, with the most nationalistic government Japan has had in years, there are plenty of alternative views out there in the mainstream discourse. On China, these can often be found in the Japanese business community, on whose support the LDP relies. The problem for me is that when one of these nationalist dialogues is "uncovered" by the English language media, it is treated as though such discussions are usually conducted only in secret, that there are no or few countervailing opinions, and that revisionist nationalism in Japan is monolithic and therefore a unified force. But, of course, none of these suppositions is true. I suspect even (and, perhaps especially) many within the expanded caucus of the LDP will cause trouble for Abe if he emphasizes his particular blend of historical revisionism and geo-political hawkishness too much. It's not as if any of the incoming LDP members actually owe Abe for their seats in the Diet. It was Noda Yoshihiko who got them elected, after all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous> Any chance of getting a scan of that 文芸春秋 article? I can't seem to find a copy online...

I'm very interested in seeing what the level of discourse is in the non-2ch/space cadet world, especially after all the friction with China and Korea in 2012.

Anonymous said...

I've found a short summary of the article here:

I didn't really see anything bordering on racism...

Nevertheless, it did seem to take a "Why we lost the war, and how not to lose the next one" view towards the Sino-Japan war. I wouldn't go so far as to say denying Japan's role as an aggressor in WWII, as it seems to make clear that the 陸軍 was pretty much responsible for dragging Japan into war.

(I'm Anonymous #4)