Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Extreme Nationalism, Militarism & Nukes: Deadly for Japan

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, an arson attack on a house of a lawmaker who criticized him, the popularity of the hawkish Shinzo Abe (for sure the next Premier of Japan) who is obviously promoting extreme nationalism and militarism in Japan, Former Prime Minister Nakasone and other Japanese lawmakers’ nuclear ambitions…all are signs that this nation is taking a self-destructive path again.

Public polls after Koizumi's latest pilgrimage to the shrine also have indicated rising domestic support for his visits, especially among younger Japanese, prompting concerns about a rise of nationalism.

Frankly, are nationalism, militarism and nuclear weapons really needed for the welfare of contemporary Japan?

Japan’s security was once measured in terms of its ability to fend off military attack. But under existing conditions in the world there seems little likelihood that any nation would attack Japan. It is obvious that the real front line of defense for Japan is not on any military perimeter. It is the maintenance and healthy growth of international cooperation. For this, world peace is, of course, necessary but so also is the solution of endless economic and political problems in Japan’s relations with the various countries of the world (especially China and the two Koreas).

Many Japanese politicians (Nakasone, Koizumi, Abe, Ishihara…) and ordinary citizens have always seen China and North Korea as strategic daggers pointed at the heart of Japan. But, I think world economic and diplomatic conditions now make such a concept an anachronism. A more apt figure of speech would be to describe stagnation or decline in world trade as a sword of Damocles hanging precariously above Japan’s head. The thread that supports it is threatened by a various breezes: extreme terrorism, major wars, global ecological damage, or, most probably, the inability of human beings to cooperate successfully in a situation of rapidly increasing complexity and growing tension.

One might expect that the vigor the Japanese once put into military defense would now go into the solution of the serious problems that stand in the way of effective world cooperation, for this is Japan’s great strategic frontier. But such is hardly the case. In fact, the Japanese seem remarkably passive, more like spectators at the great drama of world history than like participants in it. They tend to wait for others to take initiatives and then merely to react to these. In part it seems to be an expression of their traditional isolationism. They still seem to see Japan as somehow separate from the world. They do their best to fathom what the world may have in store for them but do not think of Japan as being a major force that will help shape the world. To other peoples they seem ready to take advantage of whatever others might develop in international relations, but unwilling to take any risks themselves. The American concept of the Japanese desire for a “free ride” has not been entirely off the mark.

The Japanese seem slow to realize that, while Japan is undoubtedly dependent on the rest of the world, what that world will be is in no small degree dependent on Japan’s role in it. It is indeed an irony--perhaps even a tragedy&--that the Japanese, while possessing the world’s >most global economy, should at the time be among its psychologically most parochial peoples. As they themselves are fond of saying, they have an “island country mentality” (shimaguni konjo).

It is doubtful that much of present world civilization would survive a general nuclear holocaust, but certainly Japan as it now exists would definitely not. As nuclear weapons proliferate, as seems probable, even localized wars, if they prevented Japan’s access to food supplies or oil resources, would certainly bring the country tumbling down. Unlimited population growth in the developing countries or growing frictions between them and the industrialized countries might lead to such disorders as to impair world trade. There is also a growing capacity for acts of international terrorism to produce chaos in an ever more closely intricately knit world. Any of these developments would have particularly serious consequences for Japan’s finely tuned economy and worldwide economical dependence.

Nakasone, Koizumi, Abe, Aso, Ishihara, so-called “Japanese nationalists” and all the Japanese:
1)Have you already forgotten Japan’s miserable past (Pacific War, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, poverty…)
2)Are you willing to punish your own nation again?

If not, use your brains and hearts; and think deeply before you act. You have no other choice but promoting important universal values such as peace, love, nonviolence, compassion, antiracism, respect for life diversity and prosperity for all human beings.

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