Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fascism on the march in Japan

My friend in Oregon e-mailed me this article from The Washington Note about the rising tide of right wing nationalism in Japan.
Japan is making its way back as a topic of interest on the
nation's front pages and editorials -- not for trade
related problems which dominated the US-Japan relationship
through most of the 1990s -- but mostly because of its
creep towards a revived strident right-wing nationalism
that promulgates obsessive cultural uniqueness as well as a
sneering dismissal of historical accountability.

Masaru Tamamoto -- editor of an important on-line magazine,
JIIA Commentary published by the Japan Ministry of Foreign
Affairs-supported Japan Institute for International Affairs
-- is under attack from Yoshihisa Komori, the long-time
DC-based former editor and now roving editor of Japan's
right-wing newspaper, the Sankei Shimbun.
I know both of these writers/intellectuals -- and Komori
has established a kind of franchise on the debate about
Japan's historical memory. He is the authoritative
right-wing commentator on the politics of Japan's war
memory and on Japan-China relations. He's part of a group
that understandably argues that Japan needs to get beyond
its kow-towing to China and other nations in the region
over World War II -- particularly given the behavior of the
Chinese government towards its own people in the 1960s and

While Tamamoto has critiqued the Prime Minister and the
government for flirting with a wrong-headed strident
nationalism that is more destructive than constructive in
remarking about Koizumi's recent visit to Yasukuni Shrine,
where the spirits of Japan's worst class-A war criminals
are allegedly enshrined, Komori has unleashed the
right-wing goons to pressure the Japan Institute for
International Affairs to shut down his gig.

JIIA has already shut down the website on which Tamamoto's
commentary was posted with a note:
Stev Clemons
From the little I've read about post-World War II Japanese politics, the illusion of democray is just that. The nation has been run by a coalition of center-right, pro-American, pro-corporate politicians ever since the ink was dry on the constituion US Imperial Counsel Douglas MacArthur wrote for the nation during the occupation period. So that a right wing writer/"intellectual" to get a supposedly "left-of-center" Koizumi government to shut down a critic's web site should come as no surprise. This is probably something our fearless leader wishes he was empowered to do.

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