While Germany is regarded as an axis power that has really confronted its behavior and activities during World War II, Japan is not. That is what makes this editorial from Japan’s Asahi Shimbun so eye-opening. According to Asahi, Japan’s failure to acknowledge and alter the organization of Japanese society since its defeat 66 years ago has led not only to economic crisis, but the post-tsunami nuclear disaster that has yet to be resolved.

The Asahi Shimbun editorial says in part:

A young officer muttered, “Those who fail to make progress never win under any conditions. A defeat is the best thing that could happen to us now. If we don’t wake up now, how will we be ever be saved?”

His country had effectively forced himself and other young officers into a meaningless death, but it seems that at least this officer still clung to hope.

So have we achieved progress? Did we wake up? Have we been saved? August 15 marked the 66th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II.

In those days, the country sought a new enemy, despite already being caught up in the quicksand of the Sino-Japanese War. Since the United States was Japan’s supplier of oil and other resources, it was unthinkable for Japan to dive headlong into a war against that country.

Yet it was military professionals who self-servingly changed the narrative, calling it a war of survival and self-defense. They rallied the country around such slogans. Citizens, whipped up into a frenzy by earlier victories, answered the call and rallied around their military leaders. The pre-war pattern was repeated after the war.

In the case of the bubble economy, responsibility lay with bureaucrats, who ignored an excess in the money supply; and with the public, where people capitalized on a boom in assets by snatching up real estate and stocks, thereby inflating prices far beyond their actual value.

And now we have the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, along with power companies, closed their eyes to the realities of our quake-prone country. They released self-serving information that concealed inconvenient data. They also staged fake question and answer sessions to manipulate public opinion. This is just as bad as the wartime military propaganda that consisted of lie after lie about the war situation. It is a shame.


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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • Allen

    I don’t like to see the Japanese being to hard on themselves. When talking about “incompetent or corrupt” leaders, separating the good people of Japan from the capitalist asses that inhabit every country, the discussion should be focused where it belongs; on the self serving.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    oddly, this article could have been written about many nations on earth. I agree that the public often has no idea they are being manipulated. The false Q and A session at press conferences is rife in the US for instance, at many gathering of the public wherein media or lawmakers are present. “Plants in the audience” to derail material, to gain answer for media to reprint by questioner and answerer colluding beforehand, is part of the ‘dirty tricks’ some use to ‘win.; The public loses.

  • I don’t usually chime in about articles we post, but this one seemed so extraordinary to me that I thought I would.

    Allen’s comment on the Japanese perhaps being ‘too hard on themselves’ is particularly interesting – and I don’t necessarily disagree.

    Who, after the incredible series of catastrophes that have befallen Japan, doesn’t have sympathy for the people of that nation?

    But one must remember the context of World War II, during which by all accounts and plain logic, Japanese Imperial troops behaved with a cruelty that more than rivaled the Nazis.

    After the war, as has been a topic of discussion since it ended 66 years ago yesterday, the Japanese retained their monarchy and never really came to terms with the crimes the nation committed.

    Take the ‘comfort women,’ to site one example, who were kidnapped from across Asian areas under Japanese occupation to ‘service’ imperial troops. Hundreds of thousands of innocent young women ripped away from their families to a truly horrific fate.

    Then there is the way they treated prisoners and performed ‘biological tests’ on God-knows how many innocent Chinese. Enough said on that.

    And yes, Madam Estes’ point is well taken and absolutely true. But when I found this piece, what really struck me was seeing such a cutting and honest Japanese criticism of that nation’s wartime conduct and the consequences of continuing many of the same practices in the almost seven decades since.

    This, I would suggest, is an indicator of the profound impact that the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear catastrophe, that began last March, is having on Japan.

    Extraordinary.