Ok

En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.

lundi, 22 octobre 2018

Le paradoxe de la modernité japonaise

japon-cerisiers-en-fleurs-2.jpg

Le paradoxe de la modernité japonaise

par Matthieu Giroux

La modernité, telle qu’elle est apparue au Japon au XIXe siècle, déroute l’Occidental qui envisage de l’interroger. Parce qu’elle est souvent perçue à tort comme un phénomène exclusivement européen, son expression japonaise se voit réduite à une tentative d’imitation ayant pour but de combler un retard économique, politique et militaire. Pourtant, dans Moderne sans être occidental : aux origines du Japon d’aujourd’hui (NRF, Gallimard, 2016), le spécialiste de l’histoire du Japon Pierre-François Souyri démontre que la modernité japonaise, loin d’être un ersatz de la modernité occidentale, possède une identité et une genèse qui lui sont propres.

nouyri.jpgL’identité entre modernisation et occidentalisation du Japon est un des lieux communs les plus véhiculés. Les écrivains, les cinéastes, mais également, ce qui est plus grave, les historiens décrivent souvent un archipel féodal qui aurait embrassé la modernité occidentale en découvrant la puissance nouvelle des empires européens en pleine expansion au milieu du XIXe siècle. Les canonnières britanniques auraient suscité chez ce peuple de tradition isolationniste un sentiment d’urgence et de faiblesse, l’obligeant à rattraper son retard technique, économique et politique. Cette approche considère donc que la modernité japonaise est le produit de l’Occident, que les causes profondes de la transformation de la société japonaise sont exogènes et que ce changement radical peut se comprendre sur le mode de la pure et simple imitation, notamment à travers des tendances nouvelles comme le nationalisme, l’impérialisme ou encore le capitalisme à la japonaise.

Pourtant, dans Moderne sans être occidental : aux origines du Japon d’aujourd’hui, Pierre-François Souyri défend la thèse d’un développement autonome en soulignant les causes internes qui ont poussé l’archipel à embrasser une modernité spécifique et, précisément, non occidentale. À ses yeux, si la modernité trouve bien son origine dans l’Europe du XVIe siècle, elle a également trouvé son expression dans le Japon du XIXe siècle qui a connu, indépendamment de l’arrivée des Américains sur son territoire, des bouleversements qui ont redéfini en profondeur l’organisation de la société japonaise ainsi que la mentalité même de son peuple. Selon lui, « la vision européenne de la modernité […] imprégnait les discours japonais, au point que certains y voient présente comme une “colonisation spirituelle de l’intérieur” qui aurait pollué leur imaginaire historique pendant plus d’un siècle ». En d’autres termes, les Japonais eux-mêmes étaient jusqu’à récemment incapables de penser leur propre modernité en dehors du paradigme occidental. Ils ont « longtemps cherché à penser l’écart qui séparait le Japon du modèle, faisant, consciemment ou pas, du “comparatisme eurocentré” ». Il n’agit pas ici d’affirmer que la modernité japonaise ne doit rien à la modernité occidentale, il s’agit bien plutôt de restituer l’originalité d’un phénomène historique en évitant de pratiquer la comparaison systématique avec le modèle européen. « Depuis une vingtaine d’années, on a en effet beaucoup revisité au Japon cette manière de voir les choses, au point que l’histoire de la modernisation japonaise se conçoit désormais à un rythme identique à celui des “grandes puissances”, avec des décalages souvent moins pertinents que l’on n’a pas voulu le penser. » Dès lors, la modernité japonaise n’est plus à appréhender négativement, c’est-à-dire en cherchant toujours ce dont le Japon ne dispose pas par rapport aux Européens, mais positivement, c’est-à-dire en réfléchissant sur la nature de cette modernité. En bref, il ne s’agit plus de raisonner en termes d’échec mais de différence. « L’histoire nous invite en effet à voir que des formes spécifiques de la modernité sont nées au Japon, avec leurs dimensions propres, hybrides et hétérogènes, et qu’elles peuvent parfois s’exporter. »

Les « Lumières » japonaises

Le changement de régime est décisif pour comprendre cette période de l’histoire du Japon. La restauration de Meiji (1867-1912), le retour au premier plan de l’empereur après plus de deux siècles de domination du shogunat des Tokugawa (1603-1867), s’inscrit dans le cadre des « Lumières » japonaises (bunmei kaika). Au IXe siècle, avec la faillite de l’État central à défendre les provinces, le pouvoir politique de l’empereur s’était estompé pour laisser place à un Japon féodal dominé par des daimyos (seigneurs) et à plusieurs siècles de guerre civile jusqu’à l’arrivée au pouvoir de Tokugawa Ieyasu au début du XVIIe siècle. L’autorité du shogunat Tokugawa s’était en partie fondée sur sa capacité à pacifier le Japon mais, face à la supériorité militaire et technique de l’Occident, le régime ne semblait plus avoir les moyens de protéger le pays. Dès lors, seul un État central doté d’une armée moderne serait en mesure d’assurer la sécurité du peuple japonais face à un éventuel envahisseur. Les partisans des « Lumières » japonaises avaient été particulièrement impressionnés par Bismarck lors de la mission Iwakura qui sillonna l’Europe de 1871 à 1873. La restauration de l’Empereur s’inscrit donc dans un contexte de modernisation et de « civilisation » mais, contrairement à la modernité occidentale, cela n’implique pas la création d’un nouveau type de régime comme en France ou aux États-Unis. L’écrivain et théoricien des idées politiques Fukuzwa Yukichi évoque une « restauration révolutionnaire ». La modernité politique japonaise a d’emblée quelque chose de « conservateur » et les occidentalistes se sont parfaitement accommodés du caractère autoritaire du nouveau régime. Le cas japonais est donc très différent des cas français et américains marqués par des révolutions intrinsèquement progressistes. De plus, si l’Occident apparaît comme un modèle sur le plan technique et militaire, il est également un rival, un ennemi qu’il faut imiter pour mieux s’en protéger. C’est donc un double-mouvement, à la fois xénophile et xénophobe, qui conditionne l’avènement de la modernité japonaise.

Emperor_Meiji_by_Takahashi_Yuichi.jpg

Cela dit, de nombreux partisans des « Lumières » estimaient que le changement politique était insuffisant et qu’il fallait également transformer la société en profondeur en influençant les mentalités. C’est le cas de la Société de l’an VI qui a importé d’Europe la pratique du débat public jusque là complètement absente dans l’archipel. « On connaissait le palabre ou la discussion informelle en petit groupe, mais le débat conflictuel n’était guère en usage. Il aurait même été choquant », explique Pierre-François Souyri. Muragaki Norimasa, chef adjoint de la délégation japonaise qui s’était rendue à Washington en 1860, avait été très surpris de la violence verbale de certains échanges au parlement. « Tel ministre pris à parti par un député répondait calmement, là où le samouraï aurait dégainé un sabre ! » Le Japon féodal était administré par les samouraïs qui respectaient un code d’honneur strict. Les élites étaient forgées par une mentalité guerrière et non politicienne. Aux insultes, on répondait par les armes. Il y avait donc un long chemin à parcourir pour faire passer cette société de la hiérarchie et de l’honneur à une société d’individus libres pratiquant le débat public et l’échange entre citoyens égaux. Certains membres de la Société de l’an VI avaient bien compris le lien qui existait entre la nature du régime politique et les mentalités individuelles, le despotisme n’étant pas vraiment en mesure de produire des individus « civilisés » comme en Occident. Le philosophe Nishi Amane affirmait : « La docilité est une qualité importante pour les Japonais. Dans un régime despotique, c’est en effet une qualité fort prisée. » Nakamura Masano, quant à lui, estima très tôt qu’il fallait créer des assemblées et des conseils élus par le peuple pour rompre avec cette tradition despotique et éveiller les Japonais à la pratique de la politique.

La « doctrine de la quintessence du pays »

Okakura_Tenshin.jpgLa modernité japonaise se caractérise également par l’émergence de nationalismes de nature différente. Si les premiers intellectuels de la période Meiji s’interrogèrent sur la possibilité d’un changement de régime pour permettre aux Japonais de disposer de plus de droits individuels (liberté de réunion, d’association, d’expression…) et de véritables libertés politiques, le débat s’est ensuite orienté sur la question de la définition de cette nouvelle identité japonaise. « À partir des années 1887-1888 […], les termes du débat évoluèrent et se cristallisèrent désormais sur la question des identités à l’intérieur de la nation, avec un balancement entre trois éléments, l’Occident et son influence toujours fascinante et menaçante, l’Orient (mais il s’agit surtout de la Chine) qui devint une sorte de terre d’utopie ou d’expansion, et le Japon enfin, dont il fallait sans cesse redéfinir l’essence entre les deux pôles précédents. » Ce qui est particulièrement intéressant dans le cas japonais, c’est que le nationalisme, qui est par excellence une doctrine politique moderne, ne s’est pas seulement constitué à partir du modèle occidental.

Okakura Tenshin (photo)

C’est notamment le cas d’une tendance nommée la « doctrine de la quintessence du pays » (kokusui shugi). « Ils se voulaient les défenseurs et les promoteurs d’une identité nationale pure, d’une forme de nationalisme d’une nature nouvelle, d’un idéalisme national », souligne Pierre-François Souyri. Dès lors, il ne faut pas imiter aveuglément le modèle occidental qui détruit ce qui fait l’identité japonaise mais construire un nationalisme capable de saisir, de respecter l’histoire et l’ethos japonais. En adoptant les mœurs et les techniques occidentales, le Japon risque de perdre son âme, de perdre ce qu’il a de spécifiquement japonais. Ceux qui défendent la « doctrine de la quintessence du pays » estiment que le Japon ne doit pas être absorbé par la modernité mais qu’il doit inventer sa propre modernité, notamment en conservant ce qu’il a de proprement asiatique.

Une notion ancienne a permis au gouvernement de Meiji de définir la nature de la nation japonaise pour faire face aux revendications populaires en même temps qu’aux tenants de l’ancien régime féodal : le kokutai qui « désigne […] la particularité nationale que constitue la dynastie impériale qui dirige le pays depuis toujours et pour l’éternité ». Pourtant, au départ, le kokutai signifiait seulement la forme et l’identité d’un État, japonais ou non. C’est une forme de nationalisme mystique au XIXe siècle qui donna au kokutai un sens nouveau et spécifiquement japonais : une doctrine conservatrice, nationale et antiféodale. L’idée de kokutai vint bouleverser les anciennes hiérarchies féodales qui structuraient la société sous la dynastie Tokugawa. Elle servit à construire un État central fort qui prônait l’égalité de tous les sujets face à la personne divinisée de l’empereur, un moyen particulièrement efficace de favoriser l’émergence d’une nation moderne. « L’empereur cumule l’autorité politique et un prestige de nature spirituelle. Il est à la fois le kaiser allemand et le pape de Rome incarné en un seul individu. » Encore une fois, on observe que la modernité politique japonaise s’est construite en empruntant et en refondant des notions héritées de la tradition, et non en faisant table rase du passé. Le terme de kokutai figurera dans la Constitution impériale de 1889. Son article premier affirme : « L’Empire du Grand Japon est placé sous le gouvernement de l’empereur dont la lignée règne sur notre pays depuis la nuit des temps. » La continuité historique de l’Empire japonais, malgré les périodes de mise à l’écart notamment sous le shogunat Tokugawa, permettait aux défenseurs du nouveau régime Meiji de se faire les garants d’une autorité politique absolue, capable de résister aux Occidentaux et de défendre une identité japonaise ancestrale menacée. Paradoxalement, cette forme nouvelle de nationalisme, par rejet des valeurs occidentales, se tourna notamment vers le confucianisme. « Si doctrine il y a, c’est plutôt une forme de syncrétisme dans lequel la pensée confucéenne la plus conformiste s’allie avec les préceptes nationaux de la pensée autochtoniste, se mélange avec des formes de darwinisme social et de nationalisme moderne », estime Pierre-François Souyri.

L’antimodernisme japonais

En 1886, Shiga Shigetaka va fonder un nouveau type de nationalisme de type culturel. Dans Des paysages du Japon (1894), il explique que la beauté de la nature japonaise est supérieure à celle des pays occidentaux et que de cette supériorité esthétique doit découler un sentiment de fierté. « Shiga fait le lien entre un discours poétique et impressionniste, et un discours naturaliste scientifique mais fondé sur la comparaison, implicite ou non, avec le reste des pays. » L’objectif de ce livre consistait à décomplexer les Japonais vis-à-vis des Occidentaux en insistant sur la beauté naturelle de l’archipel mais également en louant la grandeur de leur poésie. La pensée de Shiga va donc à l’encontre de l’universalisme des Lumières pour développer une forme nouvelle de particularisme mais sans verser dans la xénophobie de la « doctrine de la quintessence du pays » dans laquelle il ne se reconnaît pas. « Plus qu’une idéologie politique, c’est une pensée à vocation culturelle », insiste Pierre-François Souyri. Dans la même veine, on peut citer Okakura Tenshin, célèbre pour son Livre du thé, qui comprit tôt l’importance de la valorisation de l’art japonais dans la sédimentation du nouvel État. Il participa à la création de musées, à la protection du patrimoine et à l’enseignement de l’art. À ses yeux, « les beaux-arts sont la quintessence et la splendeur d’une nation ». Alors que les Japonais étaient fascinés par l’art occidental, Okakura Tenshin, qui en était un fin connaisseur, avait pour ambition de faire connaître à l’Occident l’importance de l’art japonais traditionnel. Il « [fut] à l’origine de cette image d’un Japon antimoderniste s’appuyant sur une culture japonaise mystérieuse et raffinée ». En cela, la modernité d’Okakura Tenshin peut se rapprocher de la modernité antimoderne d’un Baudelaire définie par Antoine Compagnon. Son antimodernisme est une réaction à la domination culturelle occidentale qui cherche à réactiver, dans le cadre du développement de l’État moderne, les formes esthétiques de la tradition japonaise. Ce faisant, il aurait tout de même participé à créer « une sorte d’invariance, le “Japon éternel” » ainsi que son « propre orientalisme ».

Le livre de Pierre-François Souyri permet donc de comprendre que la modernité japonaise s’est structurée autant en imitant le modèle occidental qu’en le rejetant. S’il y eut bien, dans l’histoire du Japon, un premier mouvement influencé par les Lumières européennes, il fut rapidement contrebalancé par des doctrines politiques qui cherchaient à préserver l’identité spirituelle et culturelle du Japon, en puisant dans des éléments hétérogènes : l’asiatisme, le confucianisme mais aussi dans un kokutai réinterprété. Cet ouvrage est donc une invitation à se détacher de tout ethnocentrisme pour mieux saisir les conditions de possibilité de l’émergence d’une modernité proprement japonaise. « [Cela] nous oblige à assimiler dans nos schémas mentaux cette idée simple : nous ne sommes pas les dépositaires uniques de la modernité. Celle-ci n’a pas été inventée une fois pour toutes par les Européens, et la modernité européenne n’est peut-être pas un phénomène exceptionnel et quasi miraculeux. D’autres formes de modernité se sont manifestées ailleurs, et singulièrement au Japon. »

jeudi, 20 septembre 2018

Japanische Gastarbeiterpolitik – ein Vorbild für Deutschland?

japan-2050607379cfea59-de4536b37e98c37e.jpeg

Japanische Gastarbeiterpolitik – ein Vorbild für Deutschland?

dimanche, 29 avril 2018

Island of Fire

TB-3.png

Island of Fire

Author’s Note:

As we’ve come to appreciate with each passing year, World War Two was the most evil manifestation in human history. No other conflict even comes close in matching that war for its sweeping, sadistic and unspeakable crimes. Mass murder of surrendering soldiers, mass starvation of helpless civilians, mass rape of women and children, assembly-line style torture in the tens of thousands, uprooting and expulsion of millions to certain death, the deliberate, wanton destruction of ancient cultures–these atrocities and many more add to World War Two’s annual menu of beastly war crimes.

Also, with each passing year, it becomes clearer and clearer that virtually all the major crimes of the Second World War were committed by the Allied powers. Additionally, almost all these war crimes took place toward the end of the war. Why is this? Why were these terrible atrocities not only committed by the victorious Allied powers but why did almost all occur at the end of the war? Simply, late in the war the Allies knew very well they would win and they thus knew they had little to fear from retaliation or war crimes trials. The victors knew that they could unleash their sadism against a hated, helpless enemy with utter impunity, and they did.

The following is a description of just one such major war crime as defined above. The account comes from my recent book, Summer, 1945—Germany, Japan and the Harvest of Hate. To this day, relatively little is actually known of this great atrocity. Of course, this is because war criminals not only commit such crimes expertly, but they cover up such crimes expertly, as well.

TG-b1.jpgJust as Allied air armadas had mercilessly bombed, blasted and burned the cities and civilians of Germany during World War Two, so too was the US Air Force incinerating the women and children of Germany’s ally, Japan. As was the case with his peers in Europe, cigar-chewing, Jap-hating Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay had no compunction whatsoever about targeting non-combatants, including the very old and the very young.

“We knew we were going to kill a lot of women and kids,” admitted the hard-nosed air commander without a blink. “Had to be done.”[1]

Originally, and although it would have been in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, Franklin Roosevelt had seriously considered gassing Japan. Much as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had proposed doing to Germany earlier in the war, the American president had felt that flooding Japan with poison was not only a fine way to end the war he had personally instigated at Pearl Harbor, but it was a just punishment upon those who had continued the war into the spring of 1945. Unlike the Germans who had their own stock of deadly gas and who could have easily retaliated against the Allies had they been so attacked, Japan had virtually none of its own to reply in kind. To further the plan, Roosevelt ordered his staff to test the waters by discretely asking Americans, “Should we gas the Japs?” Since the plan was soon shelved, perhaps too many Americans remembered the horrors of trench warfare during WWI to want a repeat. The US Government then came up with the idea of unleashing “bat-bombs” on Japan. The brain-child of an American dentist, tiny incendiary time bombs were to be attached to thousands of bats which would then be dropped on Japan from aircraft. Soon after they sought shelter in Japanese homes, schools and hospitals the bat bombs would then explode thereby igniting fires all across the country. After spending months and millions of dollars on the project, the bat bombs, like poison gas, were also dropped. Ultimately, deadly incendiary bombs were developed and finally accepted as the most efficient way to slaughter Japanese civilians and destroy their nation.[2]

TG-b2.jpgThe Allies first created the firestorm phenomenon when the British in the summer of 1943 bombed Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg. After first blasting the beautiful city to splinters with normal high explosives, another wave of bombers soon appeared loaded with tens of thousands of firebombs. The ensuing night raid ignited numerous fires that soon joined to form one uncontrollable mass of flame. The inferno was so hot, in fact, that it generated its own hurricane-force winds that literally sucked oxygen from the air and suffocated thousands. Other victims were either flung into the hellish vortex like dried leaves or they became stuck in the melting asphalt and quickly burst into flames. LeMay hoped to use this same fiery force to scorch the cities of Japan. Tokyo would be the first test.

On the night of March 9-10, 1945, over three hundred B-29 bombers left their bases on the Mariana Islands. Once over Tokyo, advance scout planes dropped firebombs across the heart of the heavily populated city to form a large, fiery “X.” Other aircraft “painted” with fire the outer limits to be bombed, thereby encircling those living in the kill zone below.[3]

Soon, the remaining bombers appeared and easily followed the fires to their targets. When bomb bay doors opened tens of thousands of relatively small firebombs were released—some, made of white phosphorous, but most filled with napalm, a new gasoline-based, fuel-gel mixture. Within minutes after hitting the roofs and buildings below, a huge inferno was created. Since the raid occurred near midnight, most people were long in bed, thus ensuring a slow reaction. Also, the sheer number of firebombs—nearly half a million—and the great breadth of the targeted area—sixteen square miles—insured that Tokyo’s already archaic fire-fighting ability would be hopelessly inadequate to deal with such a blaze.

When the flames finally subsided the following morning, the relatively few survivors could quickly see that much of the Japanese capital had been burned from the face of the earth. In this raid on Tokyo alone, in one night, an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people, mostly women and children, were, as Gen. LeMay announced proudly, “scorched and baked and boiled to death.”[4] Only the incineration of Dresden, Germany one month earlier, with an estimated death toll of 250,000-400,000, was greater.

“Congratulations,” wrote Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold to LeMay after hearing the news. “This mission shows your crews have got the guts for anything.”[5]

***

Following the resounding success with Tokyo, Gen. LeMay immediately turned his attention toward the similar immolation of every other city in Japan. As was the case with Germany, then later Tokyo, the aim of the US Air Force under Curtis LeMay was not so much to destroy Japanese military targets or factories so much as it was to transform all of Japan into a blackened waste, to kill as many men, women, and children as he could, and to terrorize those who survived to as great a degree as possible. In other words, under the command of LeMay the air attacks against Japan, just as with the air attacks against Germany, were “Terror Bombing,” pure and simple.[6]

TB-1.jpg

To make this murderous plan as effective as possible, the US air commander and his aides studied the entire situation. Night raids were preferred, of course, since it would catch as many people in bed as possible. Also, dry, windy conditions were selected to accelerate the ensuing firestorm insuring few could escape. Additionally, since the Japanese air force had, for all intents and purposes, been destroyed in three years of war, there was little need for armament of the American bombers. Thus, the extra weight that ammunition, machine-guns and the men to fire them added to the aircraft was removed, making room for even more firebombs. But perhaps most important for Gen. LeMay was the decision to radically reduce the altitude for his bombing raids.

Prior to the Tokyo raid, standard bombing runs took place at elevations as high as 30,000 feet. At such great altitudes—nearly six miles up—it was insured that most enemy fighters and virtually all ground defenses would be useless. By 1945, however, with the virtual elimination of the Imperial Air Force and with normal anti-aircraft ground fire woefully inadequate or non-existent, enemy threats to American bomber waves was greatly reduced. Thus, the firebombing of Japan could be carried out by aircraft flying as low as 5,000 feet over the target. This last measure not only guaranteed that the US attacks would be carried out with greater surprise, but that the bombs would be dropped with deadlier accuracy. One final plus for the new tactics was the demoralizing terror caused by hundreds of huge B-29 bombers—“B-San,” the Japanese called them, “Mr. B”–suddenly roaring just overhead and each dropping tons of liquefied fire on those below. In a nation where most homes were made of paper and wood, the dread of an impending firebombing raid can well be imagined.

As one US intelligence officer sagely reported to a planning committee: “The panic side of the Japanese is amazing. Fire is one of the great things they are terrified at from childhood.”[7]

***

TB-2.png

Following the destruction of Tokyo in which most of the city center was scorched black, and following the enthusiastic endorsement of American newspapers, including the curiously named Christian Century, Gen. LeMay swiftly sent his bomber fleets to attack virtually every other city in Japan. Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, Yokohama, and over sixty more large targets were thus treated to the nightmare of firebombing. And simply because a city had been bombed once was not a guarantee that it would not be bombed again and again. Such was the terrible fate of Tokyo. Not content with the initial massacre, LeMay demanded that the Japanese capital be attacked until everyone and everything was utterly destroyed; “burned down,” demanded the US general, “wiped right off the map.”[8]

Unfortunately, no community was any better prepared to face the attacks than Tokyo had been. Fully expecting that if the US air craft ever attacked, it would be with typical high explosives, local and national authorities encouraged Japanese civilians earlier in the war to dig their own air raid shelters near or under their homes to withstand the blast and shrapnel of conventional bombs. Additionally, women were encouraged to wear heavy cloth hoods over their heads to cushion a bomb’s concussive force and prevent hearing loss. After Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and other firebombing raids, however, it was clear that past defensive tactics were useless when facing the hellish firestorms.

Typically, first warning of a potential American air raid came with the city sirens. Like their German counterparts early in the war, the Japanese likewise sprang from their beds with every such alarm, either to join their various “bucket brigades” or to wet their mats and brooms and fill their water troughs just in case of fire. Most simply dashed to the holes in the ground they called “shelters.” But also like those in Germany, with numerous false alarms came predictable apathy on the part of the Japanese and an almost utter disregard of sirens. Often, when a few B-29s on reconnaissance flights were indeed spotted far above leaving their vapor trails, excited air raid wardens would run through the streets beating on buckets as a warning to laggards.[9] But soon, even these warnings were ignored.

TB-4.png

“As the B-29’s came over us day in and day out, we never feared them,” admitted one woman weary of the alarms.[10]

That all changed dramatically following the firebombing of Tokyo. After that night, especially on dry, windy nights, in each Japanese city, in each Japanese heart, there was never any doubt that the war—a hellish, hideous war—had finally reached Japan.

***

First hint of an impending US air raid on a Japanese city came with a low, but ominous, rumble from afar. That menacing sound soon grew and grew to an approaching roar that caused the windows to rattle and the very air to vibrate. Finally, in one great burst, a terrifying, rolling thunder exploded just overhead. In no way, however, did the horrible sound prepare the people below for the horrible sight they then saw above. Usually at night, but sometimes even during the day, the sky was literally blotted out by the vision.

“I had heard that the planes were big,” said a stunned spectator, “but seen from so close, their size astounded me.”[11]

“Gigantic,” thought one spellbound viewer.[12]

“Enormous,” added another awe-struck witness. “It looked as if they were flying just over the telegraph poles in the street. . . . I was totally stupefied.”[13]

“They were so big,” remembered a young woman staring in disbelief. “It looked like you could reach out and grab them.”[14]

Then, amid the terrifying sights and sounds, the awe-struck people watched in utter amazement as the bomb bay doors of the frightening things sprang open as if on cue.

TB-5.jpg

Falling not vertically, but diagonally, the objects which then began to shower down were at first thought to be pipes, or even sticks.[15] Within a few seconds, the true nature of the objects became known to all.

“They’re coming down,” the people screamed. “They’re coming down.”[16]

Almost immediately, as if a switch had been thrown, from every corner of the targeted city the night became light as day as each of the thousands of fire bombs ignited on impact. Quickly, the deadly liquid spread and in mere minutes the targeted city was totally engulfed.

 “At that moment,” said 24-year-old Yoshiko Hashimoto, “we were caught in an inferno. The fire spread so quickly. The surroundings were seized with fire in a wink.”[17]

 “The wind and flames seemed to feed into each other and both gained intensity,” described one teenager. “Pots and pans blew about on the ground and blankets flew through the air. People ran in all directions.”[18]

Since their homes and businesses made of wood and paper were mere “match boxes” ready to ignite, most people recognized instantly the futility of trying to fight the fire and they quickly fled into the streets.

“Roofs collapsed under the bombs’ impact,” said an eyewitness, “and within minutes the frail houses . . . were aflame, lighted from the inside like paper lanterns.”[19]

TB-6.jpg

It was at that terrifying moment, when their entire world seemed on the verge of being consumed by smoke and flame, that single mothers, their husbands off at war or dead, were forced to make life and death decisions. To save small children, some were compelled to leave old, feeble relatives behind; others had to abandon beloved pets or needed animals. One mother, to save her two tiny tots, made the heart-breaking decision to leave her handicapped child to certain death.[20]

“The three of us dashed out into the panic and pandemonium of the streets,” recalled Masayoshi Nakagawa, a father of two little children and a man whose wife was in a local hospital expecting their third child. “People were carrying whatever they had managed to salvage: quilts, pillows, frying pans. Some of them had carts; others lugged bicycles on their backs.”[21]

Once in the streets, the refugees were greeted by a “red blizzard” of sparks. Unlike typical sparks, however, those created from incendiary bombs were large “chunks” of oily, wind-driven flame that would instantly ignite the clothes of those fleeing. 22 Another hazard was the “hail” of bombs themselves. So many of the relatively small bombs were dropped on any given city that many victims were actually struck by them. Most, of course, were instantly wrapped in a ball of fire and died in terrible agony. One woman watched in horror as her husband ran from their family business shouting “Air Raid! Air Raid!” and was immediately struck in the head by a firebomb.

“He was instantly wrapped in a sheet of bluish flame. . . ,” recounted the horrified wife. “I could not put out the fire. All my desperate efforts were of no avail. . . . His hair was still sizzling and giving off a blue light. His skin peeled away in sheets, exposing his flesh. I could not even wipe his body.”[23]

Just as with the man above, those victims who actually came in contact with the napalm found that such fire could not be extinguished and would burn and sizzle all the way to the bone.[24]

TB-7.jpg

Desperately, those trapped within the encircled target zone searched for avenues of escape. Unfortunately, at every turn the victims met only more fleeing refugees and more smoke and flame. Those who had remained at their own air raid shelters near their homes were already dead, the holes acting like earthen bake ovens in the heat. Others met similar fates when they wrongly assumed that the few brick and concrete buildings in the city would protect them. They did the opposite. When the racing flames reached these buildings those inside were quickly incinerated. Iron rafters overhead sent down streams of molten metal on any still alive.[25]

Nor did parks prove to be havens. With temperatures reaching 1,800 degrees, the trees quickly dried, then burst into flames. Additionally, those who sought open spaces, or areas burned bare from previous raids, were easy targets for US fighter pilots who routinely machine-gunned fleeing refugees, just as they had done in Germany. Other American aircraft watched the streets for any Japanese fire companies bold enough to fight the fires, then attacked with high explosives.[26]

By the hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, the people fled through the streets as the furnace became fiercer and fiercer.

“Hell could get no hotter,” thought French reporter, Robert Guillain, as he watched the crowds struggle against the murderous heat and the “hail” of huge, flaming sparks.

People soaked themselves in the water barrels that stood in front of each house before setting off again. A litter of obstacles blocked their way; telegraph poles and the overhead trolley wires that formed a dense net . . . [of] tangles across streets. . . . The fiery air was blown down toward the ground and it was often the refugees’ feet that began burning first: the men’s puttees and the women’s trousers caught fire and ignited the rest of their clothing.[27]

As noted, in the furious heat and wind it was often a victim’s shoes or boots which erupted in flames first, followed quickly by the pants, shirts, and air raid hoods that many women still wore.[28] As the horrified people stripped off one layer of burning clothing after another, many rolling on the ground to smother the fires, some simply burst into flames entirely—hair, head, skin, all. One witness watched as a child ran by screaming shrilly, “It’s hot! It hurts! Help me!” Before anyone could reach him, the child burst into flames “as if he’d been drenched in gasoline.”[29] In the midst of her own desperate bid to escape, one teenage girl saw a mother and father bravely place their own bodies between the killing heat and their small children. At last, when the father simply burst into flames he nevertheless struggled to remain upright as a shield for his children. Finally, the man teetered and fell.

 “I heard him shouting to his wife,” recalled the witness, “‘Forgive me, dear! Forgive me!’”[30]

Likewise, thousands of victims in other Japanese cities could not bear the ferocious heat and simple exploded in flames from spontaneous combustion.[31]

TB-8.jpg

The streets, remembered police cameraman, Ishikawa Koyo, were “rivers of fire . . . flaming pieces of furniture exploding in the heat, while the people themselves blazed like ‘matchsticks’. . . . Under the wind and the gigantic breath of the fire, immense incandescent vortices rose in a number of places, swirling, flattening, sucking whole blocks of houses into their maelstrom of fire.”[32]

Continues French visitor, Robert Guillain: 

Wherever there was a canal, people hurled themselves into the water; in shallow places, people waited, half sunk in noxious muck, mouths just above the surface of the water. . . . In other places, the water got so hot that the luckless bathers were simply boiled alive. . . . [P]eople crowded onto the bridges, but the spans were made of steel that gradually heated; human clusters clinging to the white-hot railings finally let go, fell into the water and were carried off on the current. Thousands jammed the parks and gardens that lined both banks of the [river]. As panic brought ever fresh waves of people pressing into the narrow strips of land, those in front were pushed irresistibly toward the river; whole walls of screaming humanity toppled over and disappeared in the deep water.[33]

With two little children clutched under his arms, Masayoshi Nakagawa raced for the canals and rivers as everyone else, hoping to find a haven from the deadly heat.

Suddenly I heard a shout: “Your son’s clothes are on fire!” At the same instant, I saw flames licking the cotton bloomers my daughter was wearing. I put my son down and reached out to try to smother the flames on his back when a tremendous gust of wind literally tore me from him and threw me to the ground. Struggling to stand, I saw that I was now closer to my daughter than to the boy. I decided to put out the fire on her clothes first. The flames were climbing her legs. As I frantically extinguished the flames, I heard the agonized screams of my son a short distance away. As soon as my daughter was safe, I rushed to the boy. He had stopped crying. I bent over him. He was already dead.[34] 

Grabbing his daughter and his son’s body, Masayoshi joined the fleeing crowds once again, trying to escape the “ever-pursuing inferno.”

“Once in the open space . . ,” continues the grieving father, “I stood, my daughter by my side, my dead son in my arms, waiting for the fire to subside.”[35]

TB-10.jpg

Surprisingly, during days and nights such as these filled with horrors scripted in hell—children bursting into flames, glass windows melting, molten metal pouring down on people—often it was the small and seemingly trivial sights and sounds that sometimes stayed with survivors forever. One little girl, after watching a panicked mother run past with her baby totally ablaze on her back, after seeing children her own age rolling on the ground like “human torches,” after hearing the sounds of a man and a horse he was leading both burning to death, still, again and again, the little girl’s mind wandered back to the safety of her cherished doll collection, then on display at a local girl’s festival.[36]

“To my surprise,” recalled another survivor, “birds in mid-flight—sparrows and crows—were not sure where to go in such a situation. I was surprised to see that the sparrows and the crows would cling to the electric wire and stay there in a row. . . . You’d think they’d go into the bushes or something.”[37]

Amid all the horror, another woman never forgot the strange sight of a refugee standing in a large tank of water holding only a live chicken. Another young female, admittedly “numb to it all,” found as she passed a mound of dead bodies that her eyes became transfixed on a pair of nose holes that seemed to be peering up at her.[38]

Finally, on numerous occasions, because of the American “encirclement” of a targeted city, thousands of refugees fleeing from one direction collided head-on with thousands of refugees fleeing from another direction. In this case, the panicked multitude, now incapable of moving forward because of an equally panicked multitude in front, and incapable of moving backward because of the pursuing firestorm, simply became wedged so tightly that no one could move. Horrific as the ordeal had been thus far, it was nothing compared to this final act of the hellish horror. Since most refugees were fleeing instinctively toward water, many crowds became wedged on bridges. Thousands of victims were thus overtaken by the fury and were burned to a crisp by the fiery winds that to some resembled “flame throwers.” Thousands more, horribly burned, managed to leap or fall to their deaths into the rivers and canals below. Eventually, metal bridges became so hot that human grease from the victims above poured down on the bodies of victims below.[39]

And as for those far above, to those who had dropped millions of firebombs on the cities and towns of Japan, the horror show they had created below was now vivid in all its lurid detail. At such low altitudes, with night now day, those above had a front row seat to all the hellish drama below. Fleeing humans racing for life down streets now more “streams of fire” than streets, screaming horses engulfed in flames galloping insanely in all directions, bridges packed with doomed mothers and children, rivers and canals jammed with the dead and the dead to be. And for those US fighter pilots whose job was to massacre refugees who reached the open spaces, their view was even closer. In the red and white glare of the fires, these Americans could actually see the eyes of those they were machine-gunning to death, the women with babies, the children exploding from bullets, the old, the slow, the animals. The violent updrafts from the heat below was a much greater threat to US bombers than the almost non-existent Japanese anti-air defenses. Wafted on the heat thousands of feet up was the scattered debris from below—bits and pieces of homes, offices and schools; tatters of burnt clothing; feathers and fur from dead pets; and, of course, the pervasive smell of broiled human flesh.

Kaiser-Hirohito-Foto-1945.jpg

“Suddenly, way off at 2 o’clock,” noted an awe-struck American pilot arriving on the scene, “I saw a glow on the horizon like the sun rising or maybe the moon. The whole city . . . was [soon] below us stretching from wingtip to wingtip, ablaze in one enormous fire with yet more fountains of flame pouring down from the B-29s. The black smoke billowed up thousands of feet . . . bringing with it the horrible smell of burning flesh.”[40]

Once the attacking force had loosed its bombs and banked for home, the red glow of the holocaust they had created could be seen for as far as 150 miles.[41]

***

With the departure of enemy aircraft and the eventual subsiding of the fires, workers and volunteers from throughout the stricken region finally felt safe enough to venture in and begin rescue operations. Given the frail, flammable nature of most Japanese cities, virtually every structure in a targeted area—homes, shops, businesses—was utterly leveled. As a consequence, because there was seldom need to clear stone, brick, metal, and other rubble from a bombed area, as was the case in Germany, the search for bodies in Japan was made easier, if not easy.

By the thousands, by the tens of thousands, the charred victims lay everywhere. Many died alone, overcome in their flight by heat and exhaustion. It was common to find a single blackened mother laying upon a single blackened child that she was trying so desperately to protect. But many more victims seemed to have died en masse. Time and again rescue workers encountered “piles” and “mounds” of bodies, as if all suddenly found their way cut off or as if the people unsuspectingly entered areas vastly hotter than elsewhere and succumbed as one quickly. “I saw melted burnt bodies piled up on top of each other as high as a house,” remembered one ten-year-old.[42] In such areas, below the piles of blackened bodies, large puddles of dark human rendering was noticed.

“We saw a fire truck buried under a mountain of blackened bones,” wrote another witness. “It looked like some kind of terrifying artwork. One couldn’t help wondering just how the pile of bodies had been able to reach such a height.”[43]

“What I witnessed,” said one badly burned woman leading her blind parents, “was the heaps of bodies lying on the ground endlessly. The corpses were all scorched black. They were just like charcoal. I couldn’t believe my eyes. . . . We walked stepping over the bodies being careful not to tread on them.” Unfortunately, the woman’s parents tripped and stumbled over the corpses again and again.[44]

Many victims, it was noticed, had heads double and triple their normal size.[45]

Others gazed in wonder at the array of color the bodies displayed; many, of course, were scorched black, but some were brown, red or pink. “I particularly remember a child,” said one little girl, “whose upper half of the body was coal-black but its legs were pure white.”[46]

tokio1945.jpg

“I . . . saw a boy,” another child recalled. “He was stark naked, and had . . . burns all over the body. His body was spotted with black, purple, and dark red burns. Like a rabbit, the boy was hopping among the corpses . . . and looked into the dead persons’ faces. . . . He was probably searching for his family members.”[47]

Elsewhere in the stricken cities, before disease could spread, rescue workers began the grim task of disposing of the unclaimed bodies as quickly as possible. By the hundreds, then by the thousands, many scorched and shriveled victims were buried in common trenches with others.[48] Some survivors took it upon themselves to collect the remains of friends and neighbors. When the air raid began in her city, one woman was talking with a neighbor when an explosive bomb blew him to bits. Later, feeling compelled to do so, the lady returned and began the horrible recovery of the body parts, including the head. “I was suddenly struck with the terrifying thought,” the woman, who was on the verge of fainting, recalled, “that perhaps someday soon someone would have to do the same thing to me.”[49] Workers elsewhere simply did not have the time or patience for such concern and care and simply tossed body parts into rivers.[50]

Initially, when rescuers entered the few brick and concrete buildings in the stricken cities, they were mystified. Expecting heaps of bodies, they found only layer upon layer of ash and dust. Far from being points of refuge as the unsuspecting victims imagined, the buildings had served rather as super-heated ovens, not only killing everyone when the flames neared but baking each body so thoroughly that only a faint dry powder remained. Even with only a slight breeze, other such baked victims simply blew away “like sand.”[51]

Following such horrific attacks, many stunned survivors simply stumbled among the ruins aimlessly as if in a trance, dazed, disoriented, seemingly looking for something, but actually looking for nothing. With a new and unimaginable terror springing up at every turn during every second of the night before, time then seemed to have telescoped, then stopped. “It took seemingly forever to cover a distance that ordinarily would take two or three minutes,” noted one surprised survivor. And for those victims who gathered their wits and somehow managed to stagger from targeted cities with only minor injuries, such treks generally became terrifying odysseys unto themselves.

After escaping the inferno at Chiba the night before, and with a two-year-old sister in her arms and an eight-year-old sister on her back suffering from a terrible head wound, little Kazuko Saegusa finally reached the countryside the following morning in a drizzling rain. Finding a hand cart, the exhausted ten-year-old placed the two children inside then set off in hopes of finding a doctor or a hospital to help her injured sister. While pulling the cart between muddy rice paddies, the terrified little girl was repeatedly strafed by American fighter planes. Nevertheless, Kazuko refused to run for cover and leave her sisters behind. Eventually, and almost miraculously, the child reached a hospital. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending.

bombardowanie_tokio_970.jpeg

“The corridors of the hospital were packed with people burned past recognition,” remembered Kazuko. “There were many young people whose arms or legs had been amputated. . . . The screaming was beyond description. . . . Maggots wriggled from the bandages.”[52]

Conditions at the hospital were so bad that Kazuko and her sisters, along with many others, were moved to an open area near a church. But again, American aircraft soon made their appearance and strafed the victims, forcing the little girl to grab her sisters and finally seek safety in a stand of trees.[53]

Although the dead outnumbered the living following such nightmares, for many shattered survivors, like little Kazuko, the trials continued.

After losing his son the night before, with the dawn, Masayoshi Nakagawa and his tiny surviving child now set off to find his pregnant wife somewhere in the destroyed city.

My daughter and I, hand in hand, alone now, started off. Weary and emotionally drained, we had to force ourselves to struggle on through mounds of debris and corpses; among the foul, pungent odors, and the groans of the injured and dying. A man holding a frying pan gazed blankly at ashes that had been a house. Another squatted, dazed and helpless, in the middle of the street. Mothers frantically called for their children; small children screamed for their parents. I neither could nor wanted to do anything for the suffering people. My own suffering was too great. Probably all the others felt the same way.

Near [a] railway station, mounds of bodies clogged the track underpass. The walls were spattered with blood. A charred mother sat embracing her charred infant. The dead, burned beyond recognition, looked like grotesque bald dress-maker’s dummies.   Those who were still alive moaned against the heat and called for water.[54] 

Unbeknownst to Masayoshi, his wife, after a “difficult delivery,” had given birth to a healthy baby girl during the height of the firestorm the night before. Because of the approaching flames, everyone in the hospital had urged the mother to leave her newborn and flee while she could. Refusing to do so, the weakened woman wrapped her infant then fled into the inferno. Pale and bleeding, facing the flames and deadly sparks, the mother kept her baby covered tightly and sprinkled her with water throughout the hellish night. The following day, the utterly exhausted woman collapsed in the street and could go no further. Fortunately, a kind man, forgetting his own misfortune for the moment, carried the mother and child to a nearby hospital. After only the briefest of rests, the woman and her baby again set off in search of Masayoshi and the children.

Finally, after days and days of fruitless searching for a wife that he assumed was, like his son, dead, the husband learned from a mutual friend that the woman and their new child were yet alive and uninjured. For this husband and father, the news was the first reason to smile in what seemed a lifetime.

“I was overjoyed,” Masayoshi said simply, yet with a heart filled with emotion.[55]

***

Following the deadly firebombing of Japanese cities, the death toll in each continued to climb for days, even weeks as those terribly burned and maimed succumbed to injuries. With a sudden shortage of doctors, nurses and medicine, most victims were cared for by family and friends who coped as best they could. Some were successful, some were not.

TB-12.jpg

When she first realized that her daughter’s badly burned legs had become infested with maggots, one horrified mother promptly fainted from shock. After she came to, the determined woman found a pair of chop sticks and immediately went to work picking out the maggots, one at a time.[56]

Others died in different ways. Two days after the raid upon their hometown in which her husband was killed, Fumie Masaki’s little son and other boys discovered an unexploded bomb while on a playground. When a fire warden arrived to dispose of it, the bomb exploded. Eight children were killed, including Fumie’s son.[57]

For a nation surrounded and blockaded, starvation was already a very real concern for Japan. In the bombed and burned cities with their rail, road and river traffic destroyed, it was an even greater threat. Adults soon noticed that children now suddenly grew gaunt and pale and looked “somehow older” than before. Many thin babies had escaped the firebombings only to starve in the days and weeks following. Dogs and cats were no longer seen in Japan. Even the Japanese government urged the people to supplement their diets with “rats, mice, snakes, saw dust, peanut shells, grasshoppers, worms, silkworms, and cocoons.”[58]

Added to starvation was chronic exhaustion from lack of sleep and rest. Those who somehow managed to remain in bombed cities did so with the constant dread of the nightmare’s repeat. Those who moved to undisturbed cities did so fully expecting the fire to fall at any hour.[59]

“I wish I could go to America for just one good night’s sleep,” groaned one exhausted postman.[60]

Exacerbating the daily stress and strain of Japanese civilians was the American “targets of opportunity” program. Just as they had done in Germany, US commanders ordered their fighter pilots aloft with orders to shoot anything in Japan that moved. Unfortunately, many young men obeyed their orders “to the letter.” Ferry boats, passenger trains, automobiles, farmers in fields, animals grazing, women on bicycles, children in school yards, orphanages, hospitals . . . all were deemed legitimate targets of opportunity and all were strafed again and again with machine-gun and cannon fire.[61]

“And not a single Japanese aircraft offered them resistance,” raged a man after one particular strafing incident. The angry comment could just as easily have been spoken after all American attacks, firebombings included. Certainly, the most demoralizing aspect of the war for Japanese civilians was the absolute American control of the air above Japan. During the nonstop B-29 attacks against the cities and towns, seldom was a Japanese aircraft seen to offer resistance.

“When . . . there was no opposition by our planes . . ,” offered one dejected observer, “I felt as if we were fighting machinery with bamboo.”[62]

ruthless-amaerican-bombing-japan-ww2-1945-006.jpg

Even members of the military had to agree. “Our fighters were but so many eggs thrown at the stone wall of the invincible enemy formations,” admitted a Japanese naval officer.[63]

And as for anti-aircraft guns. . . .

“Here and there, the red puffs of anti-aircraft bursts sent dotted red lines across the sky,” recounted one viewer, “but the defenses were ineffectual and the big B-29s, flying in loose formation, seemed to work unhampered.”[64]

Indeed, those guns that did fire at B-29s seemed more dangerous to those on the ground than to those in the air. Early in the bombing campaign, after a single B-29 on a reconnaissance mission flew away totally unscathed following a noisy anti-aircraft barrage, shrapnel falling to earth killed six people in Tokyo.[65]

“Our captain was a great gunnery enthusiast,” sneered a Japanese sailor. “He was always telling us that we could shoot Americans out of the sky. After innumerable raids in which our guns did not even scratch their wings, he was left looking pretty silly. When air attacks came in, there was nothing much we would do but pray.”[66]

In July, 1945, Curtis LeMay ordered US planes to shower with leaflets the few remaining Japanese cities that had been spared firebombing with an “Appeal to the People.”

As you know, America which stands for humanity, does not wish to injure the innocent people, so you had better evacuate these cities.

TB-13.jpg

Within days of the fluttering leaflets, half of the warned cities were firebombed into smoking ruins.[67]

 With the destruction of virtually every large Japanese city, LeMay kept his men busy by sending them to raid even the smaller cities and towns. After his own remote community was attacked, one resident knew the end was in sight. “When we were bombed,” admitted the man, “we all thought—if we are bombed, even in a small mountain place, the war must certainly be lost.”[68]

Others felt similarly, including a high-ranking civil servant: 

It was the raids on the medium and smaller cities which had the worst effect and really brought home to the people the experience of bombing and a demoralization of faith in the outcome of the war…. It was bad enough in so large a city as Tokyo, but much worse in the smaller cities, where most of the city would be wiped out. Through May and June the spirit of the people was crushed. [When B-29s dropped propaganda pamphlets] the morale of the people sank terrifically, reaching a low point in July, at which time there was no longer hope of victory or a draw but merely a desire for ending the war.[69]

***

According to American sources, the first firebombing raid on Tokyo, the raid that was the most devastating of all raids and the raid that provided the blue print for all future firebombing raids on Japan, was a complete and utter success. Not only was the heart of the great city totally scorched from the face of the earth, but over 100,000 people were also killed. Furthermore, American sources also estimate that from that first raid on Tokyo to the end of the war approximately sixty Japanese cities were laid waste and that roughly 300,000-400,000 civilians were killed in Gen. Curtis LeMay’s firebombing raids.

The firebombing of Japan by the United States Air Force in the spring and summer of 1945 was simply one of the greatest war crimes in world history. Arguments that the operation helped speed Japanese defeat and surrender are little more than self-serving nonsense. For all intents and purposes Japan was already defeated, as the January, 1945 attempts to surrender already illustrate. In that month, peace offers to the Americans were being tendered. The mere fact that the vast majority of the estimated 300,000-400,000 deaths from firebombing were women, children, and the elderly should alone put the utter lie to the claim that such a crime added anything material to ultimate American victory. As was the case with the saturation bombing of Germany and the consequent firestorms that slaughtered countless women and children there, far from pushing a nation to surrender, the murder of helpless innocents in fact enraged and strengthened the resolve of the nation’s soldiers, sailors, and airmen to fight, if necessary, to the death.

“Seeing my home town ravaged in this way inspired me with patriotic zeal,” revealed one young Japanese speaking for millions. “I volunteered for military service soon after the . . . raid because I felt that in this way I could get even with the Americans and British, who . . . were nothing but devils and beasts.”[70]

And as for the American “estimates” of Japanese firebombing deaths. . . .

B-29s_June_1944.jpg

When the first B-29 raid took place in March, 1945, the targeted killing zone of Tokyo contained a population of roughly 1.5 million people. Given the fact that most living in this area were, as always, the most vulnerable—women, children, the old, the slow—and given the tactics used—saturation firebombing, dry conditions, gale force winds to accelerate the flames, encirclement, fighter aircraft machine-gunning those in parks or along rivers—and given the fact that the firestorm’s devastation was utter and succeeded even beyond Curtis LeMay’s most sadistic dreams, to suggest that out of a million and a half potential victims in the death zone only a mere 100,000 died while well over a million women and children somehow managed to escape the racing inferno is a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of slain and thereby, with an eye to future criticism and condemnation, a deliberate attempt to reduce the crime itself.

Additionally, although the greatest loss of Japanese life occurred during the Tokyo raids, hundreds of thousands of victims also perished in other large cities. To suggest, as modern American sources do, that even including the death toll in Tokyo the number killed in similar raids nationwide combined only came to 300,000-400,000 victims is, again, a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of victims in hope of reducing the extent of the crime. Indeed, any modern attempt that calculates the number of firebombing deaths in Japan at less than one million should not be taken seriously.

As one expert wrote:

The mechanisms of death were so multiple and simultaneous—oxygen deficiency and carbon monoxide poisoning, radiant heat and direct flames, debris and the trampling feet of stampeding crowds—that causes of death were later hard to ascertain.[71]

Accurate for the most part, one element left out of that death assessment is also that which seems the least likely—drowning. In one of the cruelest of ironies, more people may have actually died from drowning during the firestorm raids than from the flames themselves. In their frantic attempts to escape the torturous heat, even those who could not swim—the very old, the very young—sprang into any body of water available—reservoirs, rivers, canals, ponds, lakes, even large, deep water tanks—and took their chances there, drowning below being clearly preferable to burning above. Of the tens of thousands of drowning victims recovered, no doubt tens of thousands more were swept down rivers and streams and out to sea, never to be seen again.

Whether woman and children drowned or burned to death, it was all one and the same to Curtis LeMay.

“I’ll tell you what war is about,” explained the merciless US general, “you’ve got to kill people, and when you’ve killed enough they stop fighting.”[72]

Unfortunately, while a significant percentage of Americans felt just as LeMay, virtually all US leaders and opinion molders felt that way.

“Keep ‘Em Frying,” laughed the Atlanta (Ga) Constitution.[73]

 And “keep ‘em frying” Curtis LeMay would.

***

Fortunately for the future of mankind, in the very midst of a merciless war waged by evil men and prolonged by equally evil politicians, many ordinary individuals nevertheless always remain true to their better selves.

B-29s_of_the_462d_Bomb_Group_West_Field_Tinian_Mariana_Islands_1945.jpg

In spite of the US firebombing massacre and the inhuman “targets of opportunity” slaughter taking place, when an injured American fighter pilot was forced to bail out over Japan, instead of being machine-gunned as he floated down or instead of being beaten to death by angry villagers when he touched ground, he was instead taken to a hospital that his serious wounds might be treated.

During his short stay, four young Japanese pilots, curious more than anything, visited the injured American. Whatever transpired during those brief moments of broken English, of eyes wide with wonder for an enemy pilot, and perhaps even of soft smiles of sympathy for a dying brother-at-arms—a bond was quickly formed.

Finally, as the Japanese airmen said their polite goodbyes and quietly turned to leave forever, the fast failing US pilot begged one of the young men to please wait for a moment. Working something free from his hand, the heavily bandaged American asked the visitor, only moments before his mortal enemy, for a first, and final, favor: When the madness was finally over, when reason had once more returned to the world, would the young man please carry the wedding ring to the United States? And once there would he please tell a young American widow how her young American pilot had fallen to earth one day and how he had died?[74]

 Notes

1 Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire—Moral Dimensions of World War II (New York, Knopf, 2006), 105.

2 Goodrich, Hellstorm, 46; Edmund Russell, War and Nature—Fighting Human and Insects With Chemicals From World War I to Silent Spring, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001) 106-07,138; “FDR warns Japanese against using poison gas,” History, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-warns-japa... [2] ; “Old, Weird Tech: The Bat Bombs of World War II,” The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/ol... [3]

3 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945—The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History.com, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/tokyo.htm

4 “Tokyo WWII firebombing, the single most deadly bombing raid in history, remembered 70 years on,” ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-09/tokyo-wwii-firebomb... [4]

5 Walter L. Hixson, ed., The American Experience in World War II (NY: Routledge, 2003), 184.

6 Russell, War and Nature, 138.

7 “FIRE BOMBING ATTACKS ON TOKYO AND JAPAN IN WORLD WAR II, Facts and Details, http://factsanddetails.com/asian/ca67/sub429/item2519.html

8 “A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, http://apjjf.org/-Mark-Selden/2414/article.html [5]; Max Hastings, Retribution, 298. X-73

9 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Yoshiko Hashimoto interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/?feed=rss2

10 Ibid.

11 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Aiko Matani account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

12 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Teruo Kanoh interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

13 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Yoshiko Hashimoto interview,  http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

14 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Michiko Kiyo-Oka interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

15 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Haruyo Nihei interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

16 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Saotome Katsumoto interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

17 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Yoshiko Hashimoto interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

18 “The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal—Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/2011/9/3/Bret-Fisk/3471/article.html [8]

19 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945—The Japanese View,” EyeWitness to History.com, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/tokyo.htm

20 “The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, http://www.japanfocus.org/-Bret-Fisk/3471#sthash.xzZvfCe2... [9]

21 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Masayoshi Nakagawa account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

22 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Saotome Katsumoto interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal—Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/2011/9/3/Bret-Fisk/3471/article.html

23 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Fumie Masaki account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

24 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Saotome Katsumoto interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

25 “The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal—Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/2011/9/3/Bret-Fisk/3471/article.html [8]

26 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Teruo Kanoh interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Saotome Katsumoto interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

27 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945—The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/tokyo.htm [10]

28 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Aiko Matani interviewhttp://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Teruo Kanoh interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

29 “The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal—Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/2011/9/3/Bret-Fisk/3471/article.html

30 “The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal—Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/2011/9/3/Bret-Fisk/3471/article.html [8]

31 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945—The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/tokyo.htm [10]

32 “A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/-Mark-Selden/2414/article.html [5]

33 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945—The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/tokyo.htm [10]

34 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Masayoshi Nakagawa account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

35 Ibid.

36 “Hitting Home—The Air Offensive Against Japan,” Air Force History and Museums Program, 1999, https://archive.org/details/HittingHome-nsia; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Haruyo Nihei interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

37 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Nobuyoshi Tan interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

38 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Tomie Akazawa account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Michiko Kiyo-Oka interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

39 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Teruo Kanoh interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Yoshiko Hashimoto interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Michiko Kiyo-Oka interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ;”Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Haruyo Nihei interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945–The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

40 Hastings, Retribution, 297.

41 “Hitting Home—The Air Offensive Against Japan,” Air Force History and Museums Program, 1999, https://archive.org/details/HittingHome-nsia [11]

42 “Tokyo WWII firebombing, the single most deadly bombing raid in history, remembered 70 years on,” ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-09/tokyo-wwii-firebomb... [4]

43 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Masaharu Ohtake interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

44 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Haruyo Nihei interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

45 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Yoshiko Hashimoto interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

46 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Haruyo Nihei interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

47 Ibid.

48 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Teruo Kanoh interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

49 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Tai Kitamura account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

50 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Teruo Kanoh interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

51 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945—The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com [12]

52 “Women Against War—Personal Accounts of Forty Japanese Women” (Women’s Division of Soka Gakkai, Kodansha International, Ltd.,1986), 119-120

53 Ibid.

54 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Masayoshi Nakagawa account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

55 Ibid.

56 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Haruyo Nihei interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

57 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Fumie Masaki account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

58 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Yoshiko Hashimoto interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ;“The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived,” The Asia-Pacific Journal—Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/2011/9/3/Bret-Fisk/3471/article.html [8] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Nobuyoshi Tan interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Shigemasa Toda interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat—Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999), 91.

59 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Rie Kuniyasu account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

60 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Michiko Kiyo-Oka interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7]

61 “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Nobuyoshi Tan interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Japan Air Raids.org—A Bilingual Historical Archive,” Shigemasa Toda interview, http://www.japanairraids.org/ [7] ; “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Eiji Okugawa account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]; “Air Raids on Japan,” Wkipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_raids_on_Japan [13]; “Women Against War—Personal Accounts of Forty Japanese Women,” Kazuko Saegusa account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40249017/Women-Against-War

62 “The Effects of Strategic Bombing on Japanese Morale,” The United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Morale Division, 1947), vi.

63 Hastings, Retribution, 133.

64 “The Tokyo Fire Raids, 1945–The Japanese View,” Eye Witness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

65 Isaac Shapiro, Edokko—Growing Up A Foreigner in Wartime Japan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 132.

66 Hastings, 138.

67 “A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/-Mark-Selden/2414/article.html

68 “The Effects of Strategic Bombing on Japanese Morale,United States Strategic Bombing Survey. Morale Division [14], https://archive.org/details/effectsofstrateg00unit55.

69 “Preparations for Invasion of Japan–14 Jul 1945–9 Aug 1945,” World War II Data Base, http://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=54 [15]

70 “Cries For Peace—Experiences of Japanese Victims of World War II,” Tomio Yoshida account, https://www.scribd.com/document/40248814/Cries-for-Peace [6]

71 “A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, http://apjjf.org/-Mark-Selden/2414/article.html

72 “Curtis LeMay,” Wikiquote, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Curtis_LeMay [16]

73 “Firebombing of Japanese Cities during World War II,” Book Mice, http://www.bookmice.net/darkchilde/japan/fire.html [17]

74 Hastings, 313.  

Thomas Goodrich is a professional writer now living in the US and Europe. His biological father was a US Marine in the Pacific War and his adoptive father was with the US Air Force during the war in Europe.

 Summer, 1945—Germany, Japan and the Harvest of Hate can be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Booksamillion.com, and through the author’s website at thomasgoodrich.com. For faster deliver, order via the author’s paypal at mtgoodrich@aol.com [18] ( $20 US / $25 Abroad )

 

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: https://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/04/island-of-fire/

vendredi, 20 avril 2018

Song of the Kamikaze Pilots

kkjap.jpg

Song of the Kamikaze Pilots

Imperial air force special attack unit song

 
Just the thoughts of a kamikaze pilot about to meet his destiny...
 
Lyrics:
 
燃料片道 
テンツルシャン
涙で積んで 行くは琉球 
死出の旅 エーエ 
死出のたび 地上離れりや 
テンツルシャン この世の別れ
想ひだします 
母の顏 エーエ 
母の顏 雨よ降れ降れ 
テンツルシャン
せめても雨よ 整備する身の 
この辛さ エーエ 
この辛さ
 

dimanche, 18 mars 2018

Sugimoto Gorō & Soldier-Zen

Zen-at-War+army.jpg

Sugimoto Gorō & Soldier-Zen

Asceticism often has a bad reputation in vitalist circles. The idea of the sexless, passionless, passive, world-rejecting monk seems self-evidently maladaptive, an evolutionary dead end, as Nietzsche and Savitri Devi surmised. Yet the fact is that monks have often been warriors, and the monarchs of ascetic religions, such as Christianity and Buddhism, have often been great conquerors. The Christian monastic orders contributed greatly to the fight against Muslim aggression in the Middle Ages and proved capable of exterminating the last pagan holdouts in the Baltic region.

In Japan, Zen Buddhism was the religion of the samurai, who developed a warrior ethos, Bushidō, which was one of the most profound and spiritual of its type in the entire world. Whereas Buddhism today is often associated with a kind of rootless, feel-good pacifism, in the first half of the twentieth century, the Zen schools of Imperial Japan enthusiastically supported national military power and selfless service to the Emperor as the divine embodiment of their nation. Zen monks and leaders developed a so-called “soldier-Zen” (gunjin-Zen) and strongly supported Japan during the Second World War, both in its imperial ambitions and in its resistance to the Allies. In the post-war years, many liberal Western converts to Zen were shocked to discover that their “enlightened” masters had supported authoritarian militarism and imperialism.

Personally, I have long thought that Zen spiritual practice could lead either to world-rejecting withdrawal or to detached, possibly violent, self-sacrifice of the kind evocatively described in the Hindus’ Bhagavad Gita. The Zen practitioner trains himself to tolerate discomfort, self-discipline, self-awareness, and ultimately a kind of transcendence of the self as illusory. One realizes, intimately, that one is nothing but a part of a boundlessly greater whole and a web of interdependent relationships. At the same time, there is a grim quality to Buddhism in general: Gautama’s insight was in recognizing the transience of all things: not merely of nations and empires and of one’s life and possessions, but even of one’s mind, even of the gods (on which the Nordic Eddur agree, for they foresee the inevitable Twilight of the Gods), perhaps even of the universe itself. In Zen in particular, all is “vacuity,” and one learns to stare into the void with serenity, without flinching, even cultivating a quiet, transcendent joy. However, not all are so strong. The “abyssal realization” can easily lead one to fall into despondent discouragement or withdrawn nihilism. There is little emphasis in Zen on building something that might outlive us, on the cultivation of Life.

Brian Zaizen Victoria, a Western Zen practitioner, has written a great deal on the now-politically incorrect attitudes of the Imperial Zen schools. In “A Buddhological Critique of ‘Soldier-Zen’ in Wartime Japan,”[1] [2] Victoria provides an overview of soldier-Zen and translated extracts from its promoters (the quotes from Buddhist texts and Zen practitioners cited in this article are all drawn from Victoria’s chapter). Victoria argues that “soldier-Zen” was in fact non-Buddhist, claiming that Gautama himself was a preacher and practitioner of non-violence:

[W]hen looking at records of Buddha Śākyamuni’s life, we find his actions to be totally consistent with his earliest teachings. Śākyamuni peacefully sought to prevent war, as can be seen in his initial successful attempt to prevent an attack on his own country. Further, he successfully dissuaded King Ajātasattu from attacking the Vajjians. Still further, even when the very existence of his own homeland was at stake, he did not mobilize the members of the sangha as monk-soldiers to defend his country, nor did he use force to enlarge the power and landholdings of the sangha itself (as was later done in medieval Japan).[2] [3]

However, Victoria recognizes that early on in the Mahayana tradition,[3] [4] violence could be religiously sanctioned, which he claims were monastic rationalizations in the service of pro-Buddhist monarchs, and that such violence has been a recurring feature in Buddhist history. The first-century Nirvana Sutra had commanded “protecting the true Dharma [Buddha’s teaching] by grasping swords and other weapons.” In passing, it appears that the ancient Greek converts to Buddhism of Gandhara had, as monks and kings, a certain role in shaping and spreading Mahayana.

One can easily see how a belief in the transient unreality of the world could lead to an unsentimental attitude towards life. A seventh-century Chan (Chinese Buddhist) text, the Treatise on Absolute Contemplation, argued that killing is ethical if one recognizes that the victim is only empty and dream-like.[4] [5] A millennium later, the seventeenth-century Zen master Takuan Sōhō wrote that:

The uplifted sword has no will of its own, it is all of emptiness. It is like a flash of lightning. The man who is about to be struck down is also of emptiness, and so is the one who wields the sword. None of them are possessed of a mind that has any substantiality. As each of them is of emptiness and has no “mind,” the striking man is not a man, the sword in his hands is not a sword, and the “I” who is about to be struck down is like the splitting of the spring breeze in a flash of lightning.[5] [6]

The samurai appear to have had little difficulty in reconciling their Zen religion with their warrior ethos.

sm-chevel.jpgIn the twentieth century, the Imperial Japanese developed soldier-Zen as a particular spiritual ethos compatible with their nation and state. This was advocated in particular by Lieutenant Colonel Sugimoto Gorō (1900-1937), who died in battle in China, and was honored by the Zen orders as a “military god” (gunshin).

Here are some passages from Sugimoto’s writings and sayings:

The Zen that I do . . . is soldier-Zen. The reason that Zen is important for soldiers is that all Japanese, especially soldiers, must live in the spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects, eliminating their ego and getting rid of their self. It is exactly the awakening to the nothingness of Zen that is the fundamental spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects. Through my practice of Zen I am able to get rid of my ego. In facilitating the accomplishment of this, Zen becomes, as it is, the true spirit of the Imperial military.

* * *

The emperor is identical with the Great [Sun] Goddess Amaterasu. He is the supreme and only God of the universe, the supreme sovereign of the universe. All of the many components [of a country] including such things as its laws and constitution, its religion, ethics, learning, art, etc. are expedient means by which to promote unity with the emperor. That is to say, the greatest mission of these components is to promote an awareness of the non-existence of the self and the absolute nature of the emperor. Because of the nonexistence of the self everything in the universe is a manifestation of the emperor . . . including even the insect chirping in the hedge, or the gentle spring breeze. . . .

* * *

If you wish to penetrate the true meaning of “Great Duty,” the first thing you should do is to embrace the teachings of Zen and discard self-attachment.

* * *

War is moral training for not only the individual but for the entire world. It consists of the extinction of self-seeking and the destruction of self-preservation. It is only those without self-attachment who are able to revere the emperor absolutely.

* * *

Life and death are identical. [Compare the Zen concept: “Unity of life and death” (shōji ichinyo)] . . . Warriors who sacrifice their lives for the emperor will not die, but live forever. Truly, they should be called gods and Buddhas for whom there is no life or death. . . . Where there is absolute loyalty there is no life or death. Where there is life and death there is no absolute loyalty. When a person talks of his view of life and death, that person has not yet become pure in heart. He has not yet abandoned body and mind. In pure loyalty there is no life or death. Simply live in pure loyalty!

* * *

In Buddhism, especially the Zen sect, there is repeated reference to the identity of body and mind. In order to realize this identity of the two it is necessary to undergo training with all one’s might and regardless of the sacrifice. Furthermore, the essence of the unity of body and mind is to be found in egolessness. Japan is a country where the Sovereign and the people are identical. When Imperial subjects meld themselves into one with the August Mind [of the emperor], their original countenance shines forth. The essence of the unity of the sovereign and the people is egolessness.

sm-debout.jpgThere is an almost “national-pagan” quality to soldier-Zen’s sublimation of the self into an assertive nation mystically united around a divine monarch.

Following his death in battle, Sugimoto was honored as a national hero by Yamazaki Ekijū, the head of the Rinzai Zen school. This is unsurprising given that Yamazaki’s Zen was firmly national and self-sacrificing. He said, “Japanese Buddhism must be centered on the emperor; for were it not, it would have no place in Japan, it would not be living Buddhism. Even Buddhism must conform to the national structure of Japan. The same holds true for Shakyamuni [Buddha]’s teachings.” He claimed that the Japanese had so cultivated selflessness that, “[f]or Japanese there is no such thing as sacrifice.”[6] [8]

Yamazaki described Sugimoto’s death thus:

A grenade fragment hit him in the left shoulder. He seemed to have fallen down but then got up again. Although he was standing, one could not hear his commands. He was no longer able to issue commands with that husky voice of his. . . . Yet he was still standing, holding his sword in one hand as a prop. Both legs were slightly bent, and he was facing in an easterly direction [toward the imperial palace]. It appeared that he had saluted though his hand was now lowered to about the level of his mouth. The blood flowing from his mouth covered his watch.

In the past it was considered to be the true appearance of a Zen priest to pass away while doing zazen [seated meditation]. Those who were completely and thoroughly enlightened, however, . . . could die calmly in a standing position. . . . The reason this was possible was due to samādhi [concentration] power.

To the last second Sugimoto was a man whose speech and actions were at one with each other.

When he saluted and faced the east, there is no doubt that he also shouted, “May His Majesty, the emperor, live for 10,000 years!” [Tennō-heika Banzai]. It is for this reason that his was the radiant ending of an Imperial soldier. Not only that, but his excellent appearance should be a model for future generations of someone who lived in Zen.[7] [9]

For Yamazaki, Sugimoto “demonstrated the action that derives from the unity of Zen and sword [zenken ichinyo].” Furthermore, “[t]hrough the awareness Sugimoto achieved in becoming one with death, there was, I think, nothing he couldn’t achieve.”[8] [10]

Takuan.jpgSocrates is supposed to have said that all philosophy is a preparation for death. By that definition, there is no doubt that Zen is a true philosophy. The Soto Zen leader Ishihara Shummyō said:

Zen master Takuan taught that in essence Zen and Bushidō were one. . . . I believe that if one is called upon to die, one should not be the least bit agitated. On the contrary, one should be in a realm where something called “oneself ” does not intrude even slightly. Such a realm is no different from that derived from the practice of Zen.[9] [11]

This sentiment is perfectly in accord with ancient Western philosophy’s attitude towards death, from Socrates to Marcus Aurelius.

I cannot say whether Mahatma Gandhi was right in claiming that all forms of violence are immoral. However, I observe that, in any case, the vast majority of mankind does not abjure violence. For most, then, the martial self-sacrifice of soldier-Zen cannot be bad in itself, but merely depends on the morality of the cause which it serves. Nor can I say whether Friedrich Nietzsche was right in claiming that the ascetic ideal is inherently emasculating and one needs a more primal, spontaneous, Dionysian way of life. However, we would have to admit that ascetic practices appear to have been central to the martial prowess of fighters as diverse as the ancient Spartans, the medieval Christian warrior-monks, and the Imperial Japanese. No doubt, different individuals will flourish and better actualize their potential in following a more ascetic or more “barbaric” ethos, depending on their temperament.

After the Second World War, the Americans demanded that the Japanese Emperor renounce his claims of godhood. This may have been understandable from a rationalist and materialist liberal perspective, which saw these claims as not only self-evidently false and even deceitful, but also as having provided part of the foundation for Japanese militarism and international aggression. But there was also a price to be paid: the disenchantment of Japan, the reduction of that nation from a mystical family with a special destiny to a mere population of consumers. Human life, no doubt, suffers and becomes impoverished from a lack of a sense of higher purpose. I will not bore you by citing the various psychological studies suggesting this. Each one who, with but a little sensitivity, looks into his own heart will know it to be true.

I do not accept that nothing exists besides this transient world and that, therefore, nothing in a sense ultimately exists. Even when the Himalayas are ground to dust, humanity goes extinct, and this universe itself is torn asunder, some things, I can sense, will always remain and are eternal: the principles of reason and the yearning-for-life. Individual human life, in all its arbitrariness and brevity, seems to have meaning only if that existence can truly be recognized and lived as part of a greater whole. That was evidently one of the ambitions of soldier-Zen.

 

Notes

[1] [12] Brian Zaizen Victoria, “A Buddhological Critique of ‘Soldier-Zen’ in Wartime Japan,” in Michael Jerryson & Mark Juergensmeyer (eds.), Buddhist Warfare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 105-30.

[2] [13] Ibid., p. 126.

[3] [14]Mahayana, or the “Great Vehicle,” refers to the great branch of Buddhism largely coterminous with the East Asian nations. It is often contrasted with Theravada Buddhism, which is often criticized by Mahayana Buddhists as aiming for a “nirvana” which means non-existence or oblivion.

[4] [15] Ibid., p. 123.

[5] [16] Ibid., p. 118.

[6] [17] Ibid., p. 111.

[7] [18] Ibid., p. 115.

[8] [19] Ibid., p. 114.

[9] [20] Ibid., p. 119.

 

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: https://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/03/sugimoto-goro-soldier-zen/

samedi, 03 mars 2018

Jean Parvulesco: Que le Japon vive et revive dix mille ans

japon-1JP.jpg

Jean Parvulesco: Que le Japon vive et revive dix mille ans

 
Hiroshima, 1er mars 2018.
 
Je me trouve actuellement à Hiroshima. J’ai lu le poème de Jean Parvulesco « Que le Japon vive et revive dix mille ans » aux alentours du dôme de Genbaku.
 
 

JPDA-1.jpg

mardi, 20 février 2018

Future intégration économique entre la Russie et le Japon?

poutine-abeRJ.jpg

Future intégration économique entre la Russie et le Japon?

par Jean-Paul Baquiast

Ex: http://www.europesolidaire.eu

Poser la question ne paraît pas sérieux. D'une part les deux pays faute d'un traité de paix sont encore juridiquement en guerre. D'autre part et surtout, beaucoup de différences séparent leurs économies.

Le Japon est bien intégré dans l'économie libérale américaine et européenne. La Russie cherche sa voie dans une alliance avec la Chine, en perspective d'une future Eurasie. Même si son économie s'ouvre de plus en plus à des relations technologiques et financières avec le monde dit « occidental », à l'exclusion des Etats-Unis, elle reste très fermée et difficile à pénétrer par des intérêts étrangers. Ne mentionnons pas le fait que le Japon demeure politiquement une sorte de satellite de Washington. Les choses pourront changer si les Japonais y trouvaient de l'intérêt. D'ailleurs la récente rencontre Shinzo Abe-Vladimir Poutine au forum économique de Vladivostok a été d'un bon présage à cet égard.

sakhhokk.pngIl ne faut pas sous-estimer les points sur lesquels les deux économies pourraient dès maintenant coopérer, si les circonstances politiques le permettaient. La Russie représente un vaste marché de consommation, que les industries russes peineront à satisfaire, faute de financements et de produits adaptés. Son vaste continent, notamment au delà du cercle polaire, est assez grand pour accueillir des investisseurs japonais. Ceux-ci diminueraient la dépendance actuelle à l'égard de la Chine. En contrepartie, la Russie pourrait fournir des matières premières et de l'énergie dont le Japon manque cruellement. Ses industries militaires qui sont extrêmement compétitives et modernes, pourraient intéresser Tokyo au cas où celui-ci déciderait de se constituer une défense indépendante des forces américaines et de leurs matériels.

Si l'on ne peut envisager, malgré leurs aspects complémentaires, une future intégration des deux économies, de très importants rapprochements pourraient se faire rapidement. Mais il faudrait pour cela un grand programme géopolitique qui permettrait aux populations et aux décideurs des deux pays de visualiser concrètement les avantages qu'en tireraient les deux partenaires.

Un futur pont-tunnel

C'est le rôle que pourrait jouer le projet de pont-tunnel à l'étude entre les deux pays. Nous avons déjà mentionné ce projet et marqué son intérêt dans un article de janvier 2018 Un projet de pont entre la Russie et le Japon https://blogs.mediapart.fr/jean-paul-baquiast/blog/140118.... Dans le présent article, il n'est pas inutile d'y revenir.

Ce projet, dans l'esprit de l'OBOR chinois, impliquerait de massifs investissements d'infrastructures. Or c'est un domaine dans lequel les Chemins de fer russes (http://eng.rzd.ru/) excellent, ceci dès le temps du Transsibérien. Quant aux financements, ils pourraient provenir, non seulement de la Russie et du Japon, mais de la Chine et de la Corée du Sud, qui souhaitent des relations économiques plus faciles que par mer avec le Japon.

Le projet une fois décidé pourrait provoquer une vague d'investissements dans les iles Sakhalin et Hokkaido, sans mentionner la région de Vladivostok. Le chemin de fer faciliterait l'accès du Japon aux matières premières et produits primaires russes, dont il manque et qu'il est obligé d'importer de plus loin. Comme indiqué ci-dessus, les consommateurs russes seront preneurs des produits sophistiqués de l'économie japonaise. Il s'agirait d'échanges gagnant-gagnant , ce qui n'est pas le cas dans les relations du Japon avec les Etats-Unis et l'Europe, qui voient un lui un concurrent n'offrant pas de contreparties.

Reste à savoir si l'ogre américain laissera son porte-avion japonais en mer du Japon et dans le Pacifique lui échapper. Peut-être qu'affaibli  il ne pourra pas faire autrement.

dimanche, 04 février 2018

Le Japon réembrigadé par le Pentagone

trump-shinzo-abe-japan-13.jpg

Le Japon réembrigadé par le Pentagone

par Jean-Paul Baquiast

Ex: http://www.europesolidaire.eu

En décembre 2016, la Russie et le Japon s'étaient entendues sur un projet de coopération économique concernant les «Kouriles du Sud», ainsi appelées par les Russes, et que les Japonais nomment «Territoires du Nord». Ces quatre îles font officiellement partie de la région russe de Sakhaline, mais sont revendiquées par le Japon, depuis la fin de la Seconde guerre mondiale. Ce différend territorial n'était toujours pas réglé.

Cependant, au cours d'une visite officielle au Japon, les 15 et 16 décembre 2016, le président russe Vladimir Poutine, dont c'était la 16e rencontre avec le Premier ministre Shinzo Abe, avait estimé qu'«il serait naïf de penser qu'on puisse régler ce problème en une heure. Mais il est sans doute nécessaire de chercher une solution. Il faut un travail méticuleux pour renforcer la confiance bilatérale.»

Shinzo Abe s'était dit d'accord pour, dans ses termes, une «nouvelle approche» axée sur le levier économique. Les deux pays avaient décidé d'«ordonner à des experts d'entamer des consultations afin de se mettre d'accord sur les conditions et les domaines d'exploitation commune» .

Ce rapprochement entre le Japon et la Russie ne pouvait être accepté par Washington. Les consultations ont tourné court à l'annonce du déploiement d'un système américain Aegis de missiles de défense au Japon. Comme nous l'avons souvent indiqué, ces missiles peuvent aussi bien être de défense que d'attaque. De plus ils pourront facilement être dotés des bombes nucléaires d'un format réduit dont le Pentagone vient d'annoncer l'étude. Une version maritime du système Aegis a déjà été mise en place au Japon. En décembre 2017, le gouvernement japonais avait approuvé un budget militaire record de $46 milliards comportant une contribution à l'installation au Japon de deux stations terrestres Aegis. Celles-ci devraient être opérationnelles vers 2023.

Moscou a toujours refusé d'admettre que les missiles Aegis fussent uniquement défensifs. Le 28 décembre la porte-parole du ministère de la défense a déclaré que la décision japonaise causait de graves inquiétudes. Il s'agissait selon elle d'un nouveau pas pour le déploiement dans tout le Pacifique sud d'un système global de missiles susceptibles de frapper la Russie. La Chine avait exprimé la même préoccupation.

Moscou n'a pas tardé à répliquer. Medvedev vient d'annoncer le 30 janvier qu'un aéroport installé dans l'ile Itutop des Kouriles allait être transformé pour recevoir des avions militaires ou des drones ainsi qu'un système adéquat de contrôle aérien. Il s'agit évidemment d'un premier pas pour la militarisation des Kouriles. Ces décisions réciproques, japonaises et russes, semblent enterrer l'espoir d'un traité de pais entre les deux pays. Ce que l'on avait nommé l'offensive de charme de Shinzo Abe est en train de tourner court. Le Japon, de son fait, continue à être considéré par Moscou comme un allié indéfectible des Etats-Unis. Voilà qui devrait rassurer Washington quant à la crainte d'une « trahison » du Japon.

Il y a lieu de craindre que les échanges économiques et touristiques qui commençaient à s'établir entre ce pays et la Sibérie russe ne puissent plus se poursuivre. C'est sans doute ce que veut Donald Trump aujourd'hui, qui multiplie les déclarations agressives envers la Chine et la Russie.

Références

Voir en date du 19/12/2016
http://geopolis.francetvinfo.fr/conflit-des-iles-kouriles...

Ainsi que, daté du 2/02/2018
http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/author/bhadrakumara...

samedi, 20 janvier 2018

Běiyáng Shuǐ Shī Jūn Gē - Chinese Qing Song

puyi-portrait.jpg

Běiyáng Shuǐ Shī Jūn Gē - Chinese Qing Song

 
 
The reason why the second half is in chinese is because it's basically the song all over again. During the Second Sino-Japanese war the Japanese Government tried to reestablish the Qing Dinasty back in power in China, first putting Puyi at the head of Manchuria. Something that would have eventually brought back the Qing rule in China, and ended the Communist and warlord rule in the country.
 
Lyrics:
宝祚延庥万国欢
景星拱极五云端
海波澄碧春辉丽
旌节花间集凤鸾
 
Romanized:
 
Bǎozuò yán xiū wànguó huān
jǐng xīng gǒng jí wǔ yúnduān
hǎi bō chéngbì chūn huī lì
jīng jié huā jiān jí fèng luán
 

mercredi, 17 janvier 2018

Le bushidô selon Mishima

mishima-2-RV.jpg

Le bushidô selon Mishima

Rémy Valat
Historien

Ex: https://metamag.fr

Mishima est le nom de plume que se prêtait Hiraoka Kimitake (1925-1970). Le suicide de Hiraoka au moment d’une tentative avortée de coup d’État nationaliste le 25 novembre 1970 au siège des forces d’autodéfense à Tôkyô a été interprété de différentes manières, soit comme l’acte d’un déséquilibré, d’un martyr de la cause impériale, voire du geste du dernier samouraï.

Hiraoka Kimitake aurait intériorisé les appels au sacrifice du temps de guerre, puis arrivé à maturité, sa critique acerbe de la société de consommation avec laquelle il se sentait en décalage et son désir de retour à la tradition, l’auraient poussé à former une milice, éduquée sur le « pur » modèle japonais, une force paramilitaire qui aurait été l’embryon d’une nouvelle armée fidèle à l’empereur et à la tradition.

mishimasunsteel.jpgMishima, l’écrivain devenu l’homme d’un seul livre : le Hagakure

On comprend aisément le rejet de Hiraoka Kimitake pour la vassalisation du Japon par Washington après 1945 : une mise sous tutelle économique et culturelle, renforcée par la démilitarisation politique et morale du pays. Si le Japon dispose d’une armée conséquente, elle ne peut encore aujourd’hui être librement déployée sur un théâtre d’opération extérieur. Mais, Mishima-l’écrivain était avant tout un grand lecteur des œuvres occidentales (il appartient à la même génération que les étudiants-pilotes tokkôtai) et a, aussitôt le succès venu, vécu confortablement selon les valeurs de la société de consommation, qu’il vînt plus tard à critiquer. Surtout, Mishima était séduit par l’esthétique chrétienne de la mort et du sacrifice. Le tableau Saint Sébastien de Guido Reni, représentant le martyr le torse nu transpercé de flèches, le poussa même à reconstituer le tableau in vivo, en posant pour le photographe Hosoe Eikō (né en 1933) pour son album Ordalie par les roses (Barakei, 1963).

Hiraoka, l’homme avait une forte attirance pour l’esthétique de la souffrance et de la mort, stimulée par un désir d’exhiber son corps et ses préférences sexuelles, ces manifestations seraient peut-être le fruit d’une éducation perturbée (reçue d’une grand-mère et d’un père autoritaires, contre-balancée par une mère aimante). Cette fascination morbide est aussi le fruit de la propagande du temps de guerre (qui invitait au sacrifice), mais n’ayant pas eu le courage de s’engager (prétextant des douleurs pulmonaires), le don de sa personne pour l’empereur et la patrie sont restés pour lui un acte manqué qui l’emplissent de remords.

Ainsi, Mishima grand lecteur et grand écrivain s’enfermera dans la lecture d’un seul livre, le Hagakure de Yamamoto Jōchō (ou Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Jōchō est le nom qu’il prit après sa rupture avec son nouveau maître et l’adoption d’une vie recluse), auteur en qui il se reconnaissait et qu’il considèrait comme le samouraï modèle. Pourquoi ?

Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659 – 1719) était un lettré, fidèle vassal du seigneur Nabeshima Mitsushige de la province de Saga. À la disparition de son maître (1700), il ne put pratiquer le suicide par accompagnement, pratique traditionnelle attestant de la dévotion du samouraï envers son seigneur. Yamamoto Tsunetomo a reçu une stricte éducation de guerrier, mais la bureaucratisation des missions des samouraïs a condamné à jamais la réalisation de ses rêves de jeunesse emplis de combats glorieux et d’honneurs acquis sur le champ de bataille. Le samouraï vécu mal la double interdiction de son suzerain, qui ne préconisait pas cet acte, et du gouvernement shôgunal, qui l’interdisait officiellement : accompagner son maître dans la mort aurait été pour lui la preuve ultime de sa loyauté et de son état de samouraï. Néanmoins, on ignore les motivations de son auteur aux différents stades de son existence (sa relation intime avec la mort), et il n’est pas à exclure qu’il puisse également s’agir d’une posture : Yamamoto Tsunetomo n’a jamais pris les armes de sa vie, il est mort dans son lit en ruminant un passé idéalisé…. Il est donc facile d’inviter les autres au sacrifice.


Son livre, en 11 rouleaux, le Hagakure (littéralement « à l’ombre des feuilles ») qui met notamment en avant plusieurs aspects de l’éthique des samouraïs et chers à Mishima : une ferme résolution à mourir (et donc à vivre au temps présent), le soin particulier à donner à l’apparence extérieure et l’acceptation de l’homosexualité, comme preuve de l’attachement suprême entre combattants. Mais, quoi qu’est pu en croire Mishima, ce texte n’a eu aucune influence à l’époque d’Edo, les rares samouraïs qui en connaissaient l’existence n’en recommandaient pas nécessairement la lecture, preuve du décalage de mentalité entre son auteur et son groupe social.

L’inspiration occidentale du bushidô moderne : le drame de la méconnaissance

L’esprit de sacrifice que Mishima emprunte au christianisme est aussi un héritage du Bushidô. The soul of Japan (ou Bushidô, l’âme du Japon, écrit directement en anglais et paru en 1900) de Nitobe Inazô (qui était de confession chrétienne). Celui-ci a rassemblé selon une grille de lecture moderne des traits culturels de la société japonaise et de la classe guerrière, les bushis, pour en dégager une éthique, faite de courage, de bienveillance, de courtoisie, du don de la personne, de sincérité, d’honneur, de loyauté, du contrôle de soi et d’esprit de justice, qu’il élève au rang de religion. Mais, cette morale des samouraïs est une tradition inventée, modernisée sur le modèle occidental. Celle-ci n’a jamais existé d’une manière aussi lisible : elle est une assimilation aux codes des chevaleries médiévales occidentales, une chevalerie qui est elle aussi pour une bonne part une tradition rénovée. Or, les anciens « codes des maisons» ou buke kakun, font peu ou pas référence à un « code des guerriers » et, depuis le XIXe siècle, les documents systématiquement mis en avant par les historiens japonais, peu nombreux et toujours les mêmes, ne se conforment pleinement ni aux mœurs ni aux pratiques sociales des samouraïs toutes époques confondues.

mishimaswordart.jpgLe terme « bushidô », utilisé en ce sens serait apparue pour la première fois dans le koyo gunkan, la chronique militaire de la province du Kai dirigée par le célèbre clan des Takeda (la chronique a été compilée par Kagenori Obata (1572-1663), le fils d’un imminent stratège du clan à partir de 1615. L’historien japonais Yamamoto Hirofumi (Yamamoto Hirofumi, Nihonjin no kokoro : bushidô nyûmon, Chûkei éditions, Tôkyô, 2006), constata au cours de ses recherches l’absence, à l’époque moderne, de textes formulant une éthique des guerriers qui auraient pu être accessibles et respectées par le plus grand nombre des samouraïs. Mieux, les rares textes, formulant et dégageant une éthique propre aux samouraïs (le Hagakure de Yamamoto Tsunetomo et les écrits de Yamaga Sôkô) tous deux intégrés dans le canon des textes de l’idéologie du bushidô, n’ont eu aucune influence avant le XXe siècle.

Ce fort désir de créer et de s’approprier une tradition s’intègre dans un contexte plus large et plus profond. L’intensification des échanges internationaux et le rapide processus de modernisation des sociétés au XIXe siècle a posé la question de la place du groupe et de la nation. Cette quête a pris la forme d’une modernisation de la tradition, en prenant le meilleur de ce qui est considéré être l’essence de la nation. Ce besoin identitaire était encore plus fort pour les pays colonisés, ou comme le Japon, pays en voie de développement ayant refusé d’emblée l’occidentalisation par la force. La puissance militaire des pays occidentaux ne pouvait s’expliquer que par une mentalité guerrière particulière (la chevalerie chrétienne) à laquelle il fallait trouver un pendant japonais (les samouraïs et le bushidô). Le samouraï deviendrait ainsi le symbole, l’outil assurant la cohésion de la société, et dont les valeurs soigneusement sélectionnées seraient érigées en une idéologie dépeignant une éthique purement japonaise.

Si le Bushidô et le Hagakure ont été sévèrement condamnés par l’occupant nord-américain et mis à l’index après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, les Japonais ont intériorisé et ont fait leur l’éthique du Bushidô imaginée par Nitobe Inazô. La samouraïsation de la société, et en particulier les films de propagande de la guerre Asie-pacifique, ont contribué à façonner, après épuration des traits militaristes du message initial, l’idéal de « japonéité » et l’image contemporaine du samouraï. Après la défaite de 1945 et deux bombardements atomiques, la population était en quête de sens. Le besoin de se sentir fort a contribué à l’émergence d’une mentalité nouvelle, démilitarisée, mais combative et héritée de la période expansionniste en Asie, construite autour de l’idéal d’une essence et d’un esprit typiquement japonais. Mais ce bushidô-là, n’est plus celui des samouraïs.

Mishima : le dernier samouraï

En somme, l’homme Hiraoka Kimitake était déchiré par des luttes internes, mélangées aux questionnements de la société japonaise de l’après guerre. Son suicide marque une volonté de dépassement…En apparence, sa vie et son dernier geste paraissent en contradiction avec l’éthique communément admise et « christianisée » du samouraï, qui est un mélange d’humilité, de discrétion, même dans la mort. Or, Mishima aimait être vue et admiré, trop attaché à son corps et aux apparences, il a préféré disparaître avant le déclin physique. La tentative de coup d’État était un coup de dé, en cas de réussite : la gloire ; en cas, d’échec : une mort longtemps désirée et mise en scène. Néanmoins, son geste est paradoxalement le plus représentatif de ce que furent réellement les guerriers japonais : individualistes, aimant être vus et attachés à leur honneur, ceux-ci défendaient becs et ongles leur liberté. Une liberté d’action que leur offrait le métier des armes et une possibilité d’intervention dans le domaine public. Comme eux, s’étant mentalement préparé à mourir, et quelques puissent être ses motivations personnelles, son suicide spectaculaire pour une cause légitime est le geste d’un homme libre et maître de son destin.

samedi, 16 décembre 2017

Yukio Mishima and the spirit of a genius based on the soul of history: The last great Japanese writer

yukio_mishima_eng__v2__by_rossi1994bs-d9fdqi3.png

Yukio Mishima and the spirit of a genius based on the soul of history: The last great Japanese writer

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japan witnessed many shifting sands since the Meiji Restoration of 1868 based on modernity, liberalism, nationalism, Westernization, reaching out to the past, forging a new future, and other convulsions that ultimately led to a brutal war. In other words, the paths were often contradictory and clashed not only on the political front but also within the soul. Of course, the events of World War Two altered the image of Japan internationally and ultimately enabled America to creep into the psyche of this nation – for good and bad. Hence, the genius of Yukio Mishima is that his books – and thinking – fused the complexities facing individuals in this new world of opportunity – and in the new world of forgetting the past that irked this amazing writer.

In Sun and Steel, Mishima writes, “Was I ignorant, then, when I was seventeen? I think not. I knew everything. A quarter-century’s experience of life since then has added nothing to what I knew. The one difference is that at seventeen I had no ‘realism’.”

mishimasword.jpgIf we take these words out of context but relate them to certain ideas held by Mishima, then these worlds can equally equate to the changing landscape of Japan based on skyscrapers and the dilution of faith and philosophy. In other words, maybe Japan had learned everything under the Meiji Restoration based on the hypocrisy of Western, Catholic, and Islamic empires that utilized fear and control at the drop of a hat. Of course, while Islamization followed the Ottomans and Catholicism followed the Spanish – the British view was that you didn’t have to enslave one hundred percent by destroying indigenous faiths. Instead, the essence of the British Empire was to exploit resources at all costs – while destroying the soul of poor indigenous British nationals based on child labor, the workhouse, and a host of other barbaric realities.

This is the world that modern Japan in the Meiji Era woke up to in the nineteenth century. It was a knowledge that exploitation, power, theft, the adulteration of culture, impinging and enslaving the indigenous through various forms outside of chains, controlling resources, and crushing the psyche of others would ultimately benefit the respective ruling elites of Western, Catholic, and Islamic empires. However, for Japan, the same logic they responded to was to become altered based on the changing shifts of time. Hence, Japan was out of step while the international ruling elites utilized their respective hypocrisy, while still controlling wealth and mindsets by utilizing all the negatives of Christianity and Islam to crush the spirit.

Mishima, fearing the soul of Japan was being lost indefinitely based on aspects of the above and the ravages of modernity in defeating the past – would also turn against “words” in time based on his idea of weakness. It is all these convulsions that Mishima sought to express. This is a far cry from modern and relatively mundane writers including Haruki Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, Banana Yoshimoto, and others, who could never envisage such a world based on being “typical modern souls.”

yukio_mishima_by_reign_of_phoebus-d36cjrf.jpgMishima said, “If we value so highly the dignity of life, how can we not also value the dignity of death?  No death may be called futile.”

Once more, if we take this out of context but relate it to a psyche that once existed within the body politic of certain Japanese warlords, then Mishima may deem aspects of modern Japan – and modern societies in general – to lack “dignity.” Equally, in the mind of Mishima, many aspects of modernity leads to a “futile” existence based on ignoring the past in relation to culture, society, and history.

Mishima wrote, in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, “The past does not only draw us back to the past. There are certain memories of the past that have strong steel springs and, when we who live in the present touch them, they are suddenly stretched taut and then they propel us into the future.”

Once more, if these words are taken out of context but relate to ideas held by Mishima, then it appears that the future and past are interwoven providing the past re-emerges. Of course, the degree of the past and its hold on the future is open to interpretation. Yet, in the eyes of Mishima a nation can’t truly be propelled if the past is negated and the new God now becomes modernity, the work ethic without a greater goal, a robotic existence based on national insurance numbers, the usurpation of tax by a self-centered central state, and the destruction of high culture for a quick fix based on trash. Therefore, the final days of Mishima were fused with all the convulsions that he witnessed personally – and based on the history he read – and a changing Japan that he feared would destroy the soul of this nation.

Mishima wrote, “A samurai is a total human being, whereas a man who is completely absorbed in his technical skill has degenerated into a ‘function’, one cog in a machine.”

In a past article, I said, In Mishima’s short memoir, Sun and Steel, it is clear that his obsession during the last ten years was a fusion of writing and bodybuilding to an extreme.  This book was published in 1968 and it reflected the psyche of Mishima in this period of his life. He now fused the pen with physical training and concepts of the new Japan betraying the old and glorified Japan. The book Sun and Steel relates to Mishima throwing away his earlier novel Confessions of a Mask. After all, Mishima was now building up to be a man of strength. In other words, the Nietzsche ubermensch was born within the ego and spirit of Mishima.”

Overall, while parts of the Islamic world are crushing freedom and writers are being butchered by Sunni Islamists in Bangladesh; while in the opposite direction the West is in a self-imposed machinery of narrowness based on the need to follow the politically correct narrative; then Mishima is an individual who is free from not only this world based on his dramatic death but, equally important, this great writer was free during his time on this earth despite all the trappings of modernity that could have crushed his soul. Therefore, in comparison with other contemporary writers in Japan, it is abundantly clear that Mishima is the last great writer who remains unmatched based on his literature and the power of his psyche in the last moments of his life.

 

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

http://moderntokyotimes.com Modern Tokyo Times – International News and Japan News

https://moderntokyonews.com Modern Tokyo News – Tokyo News and International News

PLEASE JOIN ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/MTT_News Modern Tokyo Times

PLEASE JOIN ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/moderntokyotimes

jeudi, 07 décembre 2017

Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

mishimaportraitsailor.jpg

Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea remains imprinted upon the mind long after one has read it. It is one of Mishima’s shorter novels, but its tightly-woven narration heightens the intensity of the atmosphere, simulating a taut bowstring upon readying an arrow.

The novel takes place in Yokohama, Japan’s leading port city, during the American occupation, and unfolds mainly from the perspective of a 13-year-old boy by the name of Noboru Kuroda. Noboru lives alone with his mother Fusako, who runs a luxury shop that sells Western-style clothing; his father died when he was eight years old. He belongs to a gang of six precocious young boys who espouse a form of nihilism and hold mainstream society in contempt, reserving especial scorn for fathers.

mishimasailor.jpgNoboru is fascinated with the sea and ships. He convinces his mother to take him to a port, where a sailor by the name of Ryuji Tsukazaki, second mate aboard a freighter ship, shows him around his ship. The reader is introduced to Ryuji when Fusako invites him to the Kurodas’ home and Noboru observes the two embracing through a hole in the wall behind a chest in his bedroom.

Ryuji is rough-hewn, muscular, and ruggedly masculine. As a young man he was drawn to the restlessness and vastness of the sea and its rejection of the static confinement of landbound strictures. He was convinced that glory lay in store for him: “At twenty, he had been passionately certain: there’s just one thing I’m destined for and that’s glory; that’s right, glory!” (15). He wanted to lead a life of danger and adventure. Thus his vision of glory was inseparable from the perilous nature of seafaring: “They were consubstantial: glory and the capsized world. He longed for a storm” (15).

Ryuji becomes a hero to Noboru. As a young boy growing up without a father in postwar Japan, Noboru looks to him as a role model and worships the ideal of glory that he represents. He is in awe of Ryuji and likens him to “a fantastic beast that’s just come out of the sea all dripping wet” (41).

Ryuji leaves when his ship sets sail again, and his return marks the beginning of Part Two of the novel. Upon returning, Ryuji proposes to Fusako and the two agree to marry, which enrages Noboru. By marrying Fusako and embracing a life of domesticity, Ryuji is forced to sacrifice life at sea. He realizes this and at one point briefly questions his choice:

Are you really going to give it up? The feeling of the sea, the dark, drunken feeling that unearthly rolling always brings? . . . Are you going to give up the life which has detached from the world, kept you remote, impelled you towards the pinnacle of manliness? The secret yearning for death. The glory beyond and the death beyond. Everything was ‘beyond,’ wrong or right, had always been ‘beyond.’ (87)

Noboru becomes disillusioned with his former hero. Having turned his back on a life of glory, Ryuji forsakes his status as a hero of mythical proportions and becomes an everyday sort of fellow. This is foreshadowed in a scene in which he encounters Noboru one afternoon and calls out to him while flashing a forced grin. Here Ryuji comes across as a sheepish, almost pitiable figure attempting to endear himself to the boys.

Noboru informs the gang of Ryuji’s engagement to Fusako, and they decide it is necessary to “make that sailor a hero again” (107). There is a single means through which this can be achieved. The boys lure Ryuji to a secluded area under the pretense of getting him to talk about his adventures at sea. Ryuji begins to muse about the life he left behind. As he speaks, the immensity of his decision hits him just before he meets his end: “Now only embers remained. Now began a peaceful life, a life bereft of motion” (142).

The prose in the final scene is subtle and understated, which lends it a haunting effect. Mishima also refrains from inserting moral judgments that would color the reader’s interpretation of the deed, recalling Ryuji’s description of the sea’s indifference to human moral schemes.

Like many of Mishima’s works, the novel is essentially an allegory for the decline of traditional Japanese culture and the masculine spirit of the samurai amid the onslaught of Westernization and modernity.

Fusako embodies both the Westernization of Japan and the essence of the feminine. She leads a thoroughly Western lifestyle and decorates her home with Western furnishings, wears Western clothing, etc. She also represents the mentality of the modern West, one which prioritizes economic security, stability, and contentment above all other values. Such values are inherently feminine, eschewing adventure and heroism for comfort and safety. Fusako symbolizes the archetypal feminine, that which is earthbound and static, while Ryuji’s youthful aspirations represent celestial masculinity, that which strives to attain glory and greatness. Female seduction represents a woman’s attempt to lure a man into her domain and drag him down to earth, thereby derailing his quest for glory. Thus the gang scorns fatherhood because they realize that their fathers were each forced to compromise their individual quests for greatness and make concessions to societal custom.

The sense of glory that Noboru and the gang see in Ryuji is the antithesis of bourgeois, modern Western values, which in Mishima’s view were eroding traditional Japanese notions of honor. Thus the ideal of glory that Noboru reveres symbolizes the martial ethos of the samurai, and Noboru and the gang serve to enforce bushidō, the samurai code.

Yet Ryuji himself falls short of fulfilling this ideal. The choice between land and sea that lies before him and his ambivalence in the face of this dilemma is a reflection of the uncertain identity of postwar Japan, a country that over the course of a single century had transitioned from a feudal state into a global military power and was forced to grapple with how to reconcile its indigenous culture with modernity. Ultimately Japan pursued the course of Westernization, reflected in Ryuji’s rejection of his former life.

Thus Ryuji’s rejection of his life at sea in order to marry Fusako represents a surrender to the West/modernity as well as to the feminine. Faced with the fall of his hero, Noboru comes to believe that Ryuji can only be redeemed through dying a heroic death. The gang’s final act symbolizes an attempt to halt Westernization and restore heroism and glory to Japan. In this sense the gang parallels Mishima’s militia, the Tatenokai (“Shield Society”). On the morning of November 25, 1970, Mishima and four Tatenokai members seized control of a Japanese military base and attempted to enact a coup that would restore prewar imperial rule in what is now known as the Mishima Incident. The coup failed but ultimately served as a symbolic ritual (like the murder of Ryuji) that set the stage for Mishima’s suicide.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea is far more than an exploration of adolescent mischief gone awry. It illustrates that civilizations fluctuate between two opposite poles: a feminine spirit of bourgeois complacency and mediocrity and a masculine spirit that valorizes glory and greatness. The difference between the two is perhaps most evident in their respective attitudes toward death. In societies characterized by the former, an early or unnatural death is considered the worst fate that can befall a man. Many modern people expend an enormous amount toward artificially prolonging the degenerative state of old age for as long as possible. In societies characterized by the latter, it is held that weakness and dishonor are far worse than death. In such societies it is regarded as noble and heroic to sacrifice one’s life for a great cause, the “Grand Cause” that Ryuji invokes while reminiscing upon his life at sea (142). Mishima sought to do the same and intentionally committed seppuku when he was in his prime.

The modern world is defined by that which Fusako embodies: a desire for contentment and economic security at the expense of glory and heroism. In Greek mythology, sailors who were lured to land by the seductive song of the Sirens invariably met their end. Likewise the prospect of easy living appears alluring in times of national uncertainty but in the long run leads to civilizational decline. Thus the final act of the novel represents not the depravity of disturbed teenagers but rather the role of gang violence in enforcing justice and restoring order to a disturbed world.

jeudi, 23 novembre 2017

Beauty & Destruction in Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

GoldenPavilion1.jpg

Beauty & Destruction in Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

In 1950, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) in Kyoto was burned to the ground by a young monk. The temple had been built in the fourteenth century and was the finest example of the architecture of the Muromachi period. Covered in gold leaf and crowned with a copper-gold phoenix, it projected an image of majesty and serene beauty. It had been designated a National Treasure in 1897 and was considered a national symbol in Japan. Transcripts of the monk’s trial indicate that the temple’s beauty consumed him with envy, and the reminder of his own ugliness engendered in him a hatred of everything that was beautiful. The temple haunted his imagination and became the object of his obsession. This neurotic fixation finally compelled him to destroy it.

This inspired Mishima to write his novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. He uses the incident as a basic framework upon which he crafts both a psychological portrait tracing the protagonist’s descent into madness and obsession and a philosophical meditation on the nature of beauty, time, and morality. The novel is a masterpiece and stands as one of Mishima’s greatest works.

Pavillon-dor_9173.jpegThe narrator, Mizoguchi, is physically weak, ugly in appearance, and afflicted with a stutter. This isolates him from others, and he becomes a solitary, brooding child. He first learns of the Golden Temple from his father, a frail country priest, and the image of the temple and its beauty becomes for him an idée fixe. The young Mizoguchi worships his vision of temple, but there are omens of what is to come. When a naval cadet visits his village and notices his stutter, Mizoguchi is resentful and retaliates by defacing the cadet’s prized scabbard. From the beginning, he realizes that the beauty of the temple represents an unattainable ideal: “if beauty really did exist there, it meant that my own existence was a thing estranged from beauty” (21). Over time, this seed in his mind metastasizes and begins to consume him.

Like many youths who are afflicted with both physical defects and an overactive imagination, Mizoguchi is prone to delusions of grandeur, imagining himself as a great artist with a special destiny. He takes pride in being misunderstood by others. This sense of alienation feeds his obsession throughout the book.

Mizoguchi’s reaction upon first encountering the temple is one of disappointment, but this changes after he comes across a miniature model of it enclosed in a glass case and realizes that the temple represents an ideal that can be incarnated within his mind at both infinitely small and infinitely large scales. The image of the temple often acquires a boundless and all-encompassing form in his imagination: “It filled the world like some tremendous music, and this music itself became sufficient to occupy the entire meaning of the world. The Golden Temple . . . had now completely engulfed me and had allowed me to be situated within its structure” (125). Conversely, at times he envisions the temple as a miniature model that he is able to possess and control. This duality reflects the tension both between remaining engulfed within the temple or becoming integrated into the real world and between the temple’s hold upon him and his urge to destroy it (Paul Schrader’s biopic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters contains a dramatization of parts of the novel, in which at one point Mizoguchi holds a model of the temple and crushes it with his hands).

Upon entering the Zen Buddhist priesthood and becoming an acolyte of the temple, Mizoguchi’s obsession intensifies. He hopes that the temple will be destroyed by American air raids, and he along with it: “It became my secret dream that all Kyoto should be wrapped in flames” (47). But when the temple still remains unscathed by the end of the Second World War, Mizoguchi finds that its apparent indestructibility takes on a threatening quality, as if the temple’s beauty had descended from heaven and imposed its divine authority upon the physical world. The transcendent ideal of beauty embodied by the temple increasingly fills him with unease and bitterness. The temple’s very existence serves as an eternal, immutable reminder of his own inferiority and the ideals that elude his grasp. His eventual burning of the temple recalls an incident toward the beginning of the book in which a girl called Uiko is shot by her deserter boyfriend when he learns of her betrayal and realizes that he no longer truly possesses her. The metaphysical and quasi-erotic union with the temple that Mizoguchi dreamt of attaining as he perished along with it while Kyoto went up in flames is impossible. It can only be approximated if Mizoguchi destroys the temple.

mishimaGPav.jpgAll human beings possess a will to power in the Nietzschean sense. This finds its highest expression in self-actualization and self-mastery, and in the achievements of great artists, thinkers, and leaders, but in its lower forms is embodied by the desire of defective beings to assert themselves at all costs. This is manifested in Mizoguchi’s desire to destroy the temple, which intensifies in proportion to his realization that he will never be able to possess it or approach its beauty.

Two years later, Mizoguchi is recommended by Father Dosen (the Superior of the Temple) to attend Otani University, where he befriends a clubfooted boy by the name of Kashiwagi. While the two are on a walk near the university, they spot a girl approaching them. Kashiwagi uses the opportunity to demonstrate to Mizoguchi how he seduces women. He convulses his body and purposefully trips on his clubfeet, falling to the ground. Then he cries out to the girl in an attempt to win her sympathy by drawing attention to his suffering.

Mizoguchi attempts to imitate Kashiwagi’s tactic and make love to a girl but finds that he is impotent. For his mind still remains fixed upon the ideal of beauty represented by the Golden Temple, which renders him incapable of exploiting his disability to his advantage: “Then the Golden Temple appeared before me . . . . It was this structure that now came and stood between me and the life at which I was aiming” (125). As the novel advances this conflict becomes increasingly pronounced.

Later on, Mizoguchi tells Kashiwagi about the Zen koan that Father Dosen read to the priests on the day of Japan’s defeat. The koan involves a priest, Nansen, who settles a dispute over a kitten between two groups within his temple. He declares that he will kill the kitten unless anyone speaks; when met with no response, he cuts the kitten in two. Nansen’s chief disciple, Joshu, reacts by removing his shoes and placing them on his head upon hearing of the incident. Kashiwagi offers his own interpretation and suggests that the kitten represented beauty, which Nansen sought to destroy. He remarks: “Beauty is like a decayed tooth. It rubs against one’s tongue, it hangs there, hurting one, insisting on its own existence. Finally it gets so that one cannot stand the pain and one goes to the dentist to have the tooth extracted” (144). In his view Joshu’s act of placing his shoes on his head was a way of satirizing Nansen’s solution: Joshu realized that destroying an object of beauty was a futile act of desperation and could not eradicate the ideal of beauty itself.

golapv.jpg

During this conversation, Kashiwagi creates a flower arrangement in the traditional Japanese style, composed of irises and cattails that he persuaded Mizoguchi to steal from the temple grounds. Shortly thereafter, he is visited by the woman who instructed him in this art. After he coldly informs her that her instruction is no longer needed and he wishes never to see her again, she smashes the vase of flowers, and Kashiwagi then hits her face. The manner in which this tranquil scene abruptly escalated into violence exemplifies a tension between elegance and beauty on the one hand and brutality and violence on the other that lies at the core of Japanese culture. An undercurrent of potential brutality lurks beneath Japanese refinement and decorum. The two are not separate but rather closely intertwined. (A modern example would be the deviant and often sadomasochistic sexuality prevalent in Japanese anime and manga, which coexists alongside traditional Confucian mores.) Thus Kashiwagi remarks earlier while he and Mizoguchi are walking about that “it’s on a beautiful spring afternoon like this that people suddenly become cruel” (106). Mishima discusses this theme in a clip from an English-language interview [4] he gave in 1970:

You can easily find two contradictory characteristics of Japanese cultures, or Japanese characters. One is elegance, one is brutality. These two characteristics are very tightly combined sometimes . . . Sometimes we are too sensitive about defilement, or elegance, or a sense of beauty, or the aesthetic side. Sometimes we get tired of it. Sometimes we need a sudden explosion to make us free from it.[1]

Mizoguchi’s immolation of the temple can be seen in a similar light. It was a “sudden explosion” that erupted from his obsession with beauty. But amidst the malaise of postwar Japanese society, the dynamic between beauty and violence took on a different form. Mizoguchi’s act is inseparable from this context.

Mishima believed that postwar Japan was characterized above all by spiritual emptiness. Until 1945, Japanese emperors were officially regarded as direct descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu. With Japan’s defeat and the signing of the Humanity Declaration, Emperor Hirohito renounced his claim to divinity. Mishima rebuked the Emperor for this and saw his renunciation of divinity as a capitulation to secular Western values. In his view the loss of the Emperor’s divine identity was the ultimate symbol of the disintegration and hollowing out of Japanese civilization in the face of modernity.

goldpavi.jpg

Mizoguchi’s obsession with the temple represents an attempt to fill this void. But Mizoguchi realizes that the temple symbolizes something fundamentally alien both to his nature and to postwar Japanese society in general. The temple was inextricably linked with the history and iconography of Imperial Japan. Initially Mizoguchi sees it as a refuge from the nihilistic apathy and emptiness of the society in which he lives. Yet the more he broods upon this alienation, the more resentful and vengeful he becomes. Thus the destruction of the temple in part represents a subconscious attempt to eradicate what remained of Imperial Japanese civilization. By the end of the novel, Mizoguchi dreams of bringing about nationwide anarchy: “When the Golden Temple has been burned down . . . the world of these fellows will be transformed, the golden rule of their lives will be turned upside down, their train timetables will be thrown into utter confusion, their laws will be without effect” (185).

The novel possesses a political significance on a broader level in that it sheds light on the psychology behind modern leftism. This is best articulated when Mizoguchi voices his hope that the temple will be destroyed in American air raids: “What I dreamed of was something like a huge heavenly compressor that would bring down disasters, cataclysms and superhuman tragedies, that would crush beneath it all human beings and all objects, irrespective of their ugliness or their beauty” (47). Such represents egalitarianism taken to its logical conclusion. It is impossible to create equality by raising everyone to an equal level. Complete equality can only be achieved by cutting down “tall poppies” and eliminating standards altogether. Mizoguchi’s fantasy finds a parallel in modern progressive ideology.

There is also a semi-autobiographical dimension to the novel. As a child, Mishima was weak, sickly, and smaller than average. He was raised during his formative years by his grandmother, who kept him indoors and forbade him from playing with other boys or engaging in rough play. Like Mizoguchi, the young Mishima was introspective, solitary, and obsessed with the ideal of beauty. Mizoguchi mentions that “when action was needed, [he] was always absorbed in words” (12), which recalls Mishima’s description of his childhood in Sun and Steel. However, rather than lashing out at society on account of his physical inferiority, Mishima sought to strengthen himself and became a bodybuilder as well as a skilled practitioner of Japanese kendo (swordsmanship).

Individuals like Mizoguchi are thus faced with a choice. They can seek either to destroy hierarchical value systems or to uphold transcendent ideals like beauty and greatness and aspire toward them.

Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: https://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/11/beauty-and-destruction-in-yukio-mishimas-the-temple-of-the-golden-pavilion/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GoldenPavilionInWinter.jpg

[2] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/220px-Burned_Kinkaku.jpg

[3] Image: https://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GoldenPavilion1.jpg

vendredi, 17 novembre 2017

21st-Century Geopolitics Of Japan

jpan1608_special_TOTO_main.jpg

21st-Century Geopolitics Of Japan

Andrew Korybko
Ex: https://www.geopolitica.ru

Japan, as the Asian geographic analogue of Great Britain, is a strategic outlier in the Eurasian supercontinent by virtue of its location, which has in turn greatly influenced its political decisions across the centuries and shaped it into an historically thalassocratic power. The Oriental state prudently chose to implement selective Westernization following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which allowed it to grow by leaps and bounds ahead of its regional competitors and ultimately emerge as a Great Power in its own right. Japan’s grand strategy was to literally become the Great Britain of Asia, and to that end it sought to carve out its own empire in the Eastern Hemisphere through brutal conquest and a divide-and-rule strategy which would ultimately enable it to replace its European counterparts as the uncontested hegemon in this part of the world.

The World War II-era “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” was the high point of Japan’s “traditional” geostrategic ambitions, after which it was humiliatingly occupied by the US until the present day following the two devastating nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From 1945 onwards, Tokyo has been Washington’s “Lead From Behind” partner in East and Southeast Asia, being encouraged by the US to take on a leading regional role in order to give America a “local face” behind which it could project its dominance. It’s for this reason why the US appointed Japan to become the main player in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and actively supported its efforts to invest in the former territories that had briefly constituted its imperial realm during the Second World War.

The end of the Cold War and subsequent rise of China as a Global Power (inadvertently aided and abetted by US investments) saw Japan’s role progressively transform from a solely economic-institutional “Lead From Behind” capacity to a military one, with Tokyo only just recently “reinterpreting” its post-war constitution in order to allow the deployment of military troops abroad and sale of military equipment to foreign partners. For all intents and purposes, the US is tacitly encouraging Japan to “more peacefully” follow in its pre-World War II-era footsteps in reasserting its traditional Rimland ambitions in East and Southeast Asia, though for as much as this might lead one to believe that Tokyo is still acting as a total puppet of Washington, its leadership has surprisingly begun a fast-moving rapprochement with Moscow.

This seemingly inexplicable turn of events is but one of the many paradigm shifts taking place all across the globe and in every single sphere as the Multipolar World Order gradually enters into being, and the consequences of this comprehensive change are expected to impact on the grand strategies of each Great Power, Japan included. It’s therefore of heightened relevancy to examine the 21st-century geopolitics of the country, though taking care to note that all future developments concerning this state are much more dependent on domestic trends than they are for most other players. That being the case, the analysis will begin by examining how Japan’s domestic situation influences its foreign policy, after which it will then elaborate more on the external manifestations of Tokyo’s grand strategy. The final part of the research will then summarize the prevailing trends that one can expect from Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy.

japold1669214_81667522.jpg

Demographic Die-Out

Japan’s population is dying out, and fast. The number of senior citizens is surging, while child births are way below replacement level. To make matters worse, Japanese young adults are eschewing sex for a variety of socio-cultural reasons, mostly thought to have something to do with the typically stressful life of urban workers and the convenience that the near-ubiquity of technology provides in “satisfying” carnal desires and creating the easily manageable illusion of a “relationship”. If the present trends continue, then Japan is expected to suffer one of the most profound population losses ever for a peacetime population in the coming decades, which has led to many observers becoming extraordinarily concerned about the country’s overall future. Considering Japan’s global importance as the world’s third-largest economy, this could be expected to have major implications for all of its partners, both fellow Great Powers and developing states alike.

Robotic Replacements

There is, however, a chance that no dire scenarios will unfold so long as Japan is successful in replacing its shrinking population with robots. It may sound futuristic but it’s already happening, at least when it comes to the economy. “This Company’s Robots Are Making Everything—and Reshaping the World”, a very insightful article published by Bloomberg in mid-October 2017, provides an eye-opening look at just how important the Japanese robotics company Fanuc has been in making this happen. It’s by and far the world leader in this field, having already captured a quarter of the global market. In addition, nearly one-third of all the world’s industrial robotics orders last year were Fanuc sales to China, which interestingly tightens the complex economic interdependency between these two rivals and shows just how important of a driver this company is for the global economy at large. Accordingly, it’s only natural then that Fanuc takes the lead in replacing Japan’s dwindling human workforce with robots in the future, since it’s already replacing the labor force of other countries as it is.

So long as there’s a stable and inversely proportional relationship between the decrease in Japan’s population and the rise of its industrial robotic sector, then theoretically speaking, there isn’t much for Tokyo to worry about on the structural level. Instead of fretting about what to do with its newfound unemployed masses like the rest of the world is doing, Japan could just work on retraining its citizens to fill the crucial non-robotic niches that are still left in its economy. It remains likely that the world will nevertheless eventually employ some combination of “universal basic income” (UBI) and virtual reality (VR) to placate the population along the lines of the long-term scenario forecast in the author’s work about “The Geopolitics Of The Techno-Civilizational World Order”, but Japan will probably have the least difficulty in doing this because of the “natural” rate at which the country is transitioning to it anyhow.

intl-robot-exhibition-2013.jpg

Without any undemocratic subversive behavior on the part of the Japanese elites, their country is already moving towards the dystopian outcomes associated with “Agenda 21”, but with the key difference being that Japan will experience minimal social disruption so long as its food and energy needs continue to remain provided for. The first of course deals with feeding the remaining human population, which shouldn’t be too troublesome if their numbers continue to diminish and technological advances in industrial-scale urban agriculture continue. As for the latter, no robotic-driven civilization-society can function without reliable energy supplies, and it’s here where many believe that Japan will forever remain dependent on geopolitical processes beyond its control in the Mideast, though the reality of the matter is that Tokyo has sought to preemptively avoid this crippling vulnerability through alternative energy advancements and a game-changing rapprochement with Moscow.

The Russian Rapprochement

The geopolitical dimension of Japan’s energy policy has seen it rapidly improve relations with Russia, which were stagnant for decades because of the US-manufactured issue that Tokyo refers to as the “Kuril Islands Dispute”. The contours of this conundrum are outside the scope of this analysis, but it’s relevant to say that it took Japan’s flexibility on the issue to rejuvenate ties with Russia, which are currently on the rise and better than at any time in the post-war period. Russia is receptive to Japan’s outreaches because it needs investment in its resource-rich but underpopulated Far East, and likewise, Japan needs reliable access to these said resources, be they agricultural, mineral, or especially energy. Altogether, the dynamics of the Russian-Japanese partnership represent a dual balancing act for both parties that was described at length in the author’s 2016 work about how “Russia’s Diplomatic Balancing Act In Asia Is To The Benefit Of Its Chinese Ally”, with the obvious caveat being that Tokyo isn’t doing this to aid Beijing even if that’s indeed the inadvertent outcome of what’s happening.

Carrying on, Russia is seen as a reserve of immense energy wealth which could easily power Japan’s future robotic society for decades to come, and without any of the attendant geostrategic risks that come from importing resources from the conflict-prone Mideast across the bottlenecked Strait of Malacca and then through the contentious waters of the South China Sea. Russia is therefore conceptualized as Japan’s neighboring “battery”, though one which will only share its power provided that Tokyo concedes to accept Moscow’s sovereignty over the Kuril Islands, albeit possibly through the unique NISEC sub-state socio-economic sharing arrangement that the author suggested last year. On a larger level, the Japanese-Russian rapprochement is geostrategically advantageous for Tokyo because it gives the island nation a bit more maneuverability for negotiating with the US, and it also sends a signal to China that Japan is interested in an apolitical non-hostile presence along its northeastern continental borderland. This plays into the prestige that Japan is trying to cultivate as it reestablishes itself as a Great Power and attempts to lessen the complete strategic dependence that it’s historically had on the US since the post-war military occupation.

The Race For Resources

Russia can be very useful for powering Japan’s energy-intensive robotic society in the future, but these automated replacement workers won’t do anything for the country’s economy unless they have raw materials to work with in producing items for export. The Russian Far East can only provide some of what’s needed, and definitely not on the scale that the Japanese economy requires, which is why Tokyo has had to scour the world for the necessary resources. This has seen the country establish a post-war economic presence in Southeast Asia with the encouragement of the US, as well as engaging in sizeable investments all across Africa after the end of the Cold War. The parallel rise of China during this latter period meant that the world’s most populous country was now competing for the same number of finite physical resources, therefore turning this relaxed search mission into a pressing race against Japan’s historic rival.

traderoutescreen shot 2015-02-19 at 6.16.01 pm.png

Trade Route And Transit State Tango

Prospecting resources and developing new marketplaces is one thing, but accessing them is another, and that’s why the world is presently in the midst of an intense period of competitive connectivity. China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity is slated to transform the declining unipolar global system into an emerging Multipolar World Order, and Tokyo is simply unable to compete with Beijing because of the disparity in scale between their two economies. It’s for this reason why Japan decided to partner with India in pioneering the so-called “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor”, also known as the “Freedom Corridor”, in order to collectively pool their existing resources and economic complementarities in carving out a niche for themselves in the Greater Indian Ocean Region. The specific geopolitics of the wider Chinese-Indian New Cold War that this is a part of were examined in detail in the author’s book-length article series on the topic for the Islamabad-based political consultancy firm CommandEleven, but it’s enough for the casual reader to understand that there’s a complex tango going on between Japan and China for access to trade routes and transit states.

The partnership with India obviously allows Japan to strengthen its presence in the Indian Ocean, while the one with Russia interestingly provides Tokyo with the chance to become the East Asian “gatekeeper” along the Northern Sea Route to Europe. Altogether, Japan’s strategic cooperation with these two Great Powers is predicated on the self-interested idea of securing its access to crucial trade routes and transit states, though this also in and of itself gives Tokyo influence over regions that are strategically important for Beijing as well. The ideal outcome would be that these two East Asian powerhouses join forces in strengthening Silk Road Globalization through a combination of active cooperation and friendly competition with one another institutionalized through Japan’s prospective membership in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the possible establishment of the megaregional Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economic deals. Heavy US influence on Japan will probably preempt this from happening, however, and therefore lead to Tokyo continuing to function as one of the key pillars in the “China Containment Coalition” that’s being built all across the Indo-Pacific. 

The antagonistic scenario that the US is pushing Japan towards with China is the same as what it’s doing vis-à-vis the EU and Russia, though in a different manner accommodating for the changed situational relations between them. Instead of deceptively emphasizing a “zero-sum” outcome when it comes to competitive connectivity projects and the race for resources, the US is promoting a “zero-sum” mentality in relation to “values”, having spared no expense or effort to convince the EU elites that Russian “values” are purportedly incomparable with Western ones and therefore constitute a “threat”. The whole point of this massive disinformation operation on both ends of Eurasia is to prevent the ultimate Great Power convergence between the EU and Russia on the Western half and China and Japan on the Eastern one, which would collectively result in most of the supercontinent being liberated of unipolar influence when accounting for the multipolar impact of Russia’s “Ummah Pivot” in the “Greater Mideast” and China’s Silk Road success in ASEAN. India is of course the geostrategic exception in this model, but it would likely be forced to fall into line with the Multipolar World Order in this scenario or otherwise risk hemispheric isolation as the US’ last main outpost.

The Intricacies Of The Japanese-Chinese Competition

Accepting that the current trends indicate that the US-provoked Japanese-Chinese competition will probably extend into the indefinite future, the most responsible thing that can be done is to examine the intricacies of this New Cold War rivalry from a thought-provoking perspective uncommon to most analyses on this topic. Instead of focusing on the advantages that China has in this rivalry like a lot of analysts have already done, it’s worthwhile exploring the topic from the reserve angle in looking at it from Japan’s perspective in order to identify what possible advantages Tokyo might have as well. For instance, the Japanese “Maritime Self-Defense Force” already functions as a blue-water navy even if it does so unofficially, and there’s a chance that it could give China a serious run for its money in any potential clash between the two. Added to that is Japan’s robotic prowess, which could lead to pivotal military advances in the future that might decisively shift the balance of power between the two.

That said, the above factors are only applicable when it comes to military affairs, but the likelihood of a hot conflict between the two isn’t too probable for a variety of reasons, partly having to do with the complex economic interdependence between them but also the US’ mutual defense obligations to Japan. Both parties are vulnerable to Hybrid War disruptions in the shared transit states constituting their respective competitive connectivity projects in mainland ASEAN (the “Greater Mekong Subregion”), the Mideast and Central Asia, and East Africa, but China will always be more at risk than Japan because of how much it depends on these routes in order to secure its own domestic stability. The inverse proportional relationship between Japan’s declining population and rising robotic replacements means that Tokyo could theoretically weather any transit state disruptions much better than China, which has staked its entire 21st-century future on the New Silk Roads in order to sustain domestic growth and prevent the socio-political unrest that would inevitably accompany any Hybrid War-inflicted economic downturn.

japan-s-defence-vulnerabilities-1490762927-1231.jpg

Veiled Vulnerabilities

Despite its salient strategic advantage in being comparatively (key word) less dependent on transit state volatility than China, Japan isn’t exactly in a position to directly press its advantage against its rival if times got tough for Beijing. Neither side can afford a trade war against the other, which in any case would be more devastating for Japan than for China because of the monopoly that the People’s Republic enjoys on rare earth mineral production. Japan needs these resources in order to sustain its technological-robotic future, so it’s not in a position to tempt China to cut off its exports like it temporarily did in 2010 in connection with a flare-up of the East China Sea dispute. Nor, for that matter, could Japan afford for Chinese cobalt and coltan companies in the Congo to decline selling this necessary component for electric vehicle batteries, cruise missiles, and almost every ubiquitous modern-day technological gadget such as smartphones. After all, China controls roughly 60% of the global cobalt market, the demand of which is expected to spike by two-thirds in the next decade, and securing reliable access to this indispensable resource is a pressing priority for Japan.

Another veiled vulnerability affecting Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy is closer to home in the form of the Ryukyu Islands, of which anti-American Okinawa is a part. This island chain only became part of Japan relatively recently in the late 19th century, and the population of its most militarily important island resents the American bases there which are responsible for insufferable noise and a spree of high-profile crimes include rapes and murders. The locals don’t want the US to remain in their homeland, but are powerless to evict them due to the overriding influence that Washington has over Tokyo and the near-impossibility of this ever happening. Nevertheless, an asymmetrical measure that China could in theory employ (key conditional, as there isn’t any existing proof of this) would be to encourage the anti-American protest movement and help it develop to the level of an autonomous, “federalist”, or even separatist one despite the improbable odds of it actually succeeding. The point, though, would just be to cause maximum disruption at one of Japan’s most sensitive military locations in the hopes of provoking an escalating spiral of violence that could partially distract Tokyo from whatever hostile proxy action it would be engaged in against China at the time (e.g. trade war).

Prevailing Trends

All told, there are several prevailing trends that are forecast to guide Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy. In the order that they were introduced in this analysis, these are:

* Japan’s demographic die-out and replacement with robotic workers;

* The Russian-Japanese rapprochement to secure reliable energy supplies for Tokyo’s continued technological-robotic rise;

* The race for finite manufacturing resources in the “Global South” regions of mainland ASEAN (the “Greater Mekong Region”), South Asia, and East Africa, as well as the need to develop Japanese-friendly markets in this part of the world and the Mideast-Central Asia;

* The resultant competition with China for the aforesaid, and the disruptive role of American influence in turning Tokyo into Beijing’s chief Asian rival instead of its natural strategic partner in jointly advancing Silk Road Globalization in the Multipolar World Order;

* Japan’s advantageous geostrategic position in being comparatively less affected by future American-managed Hybrid Wars in the Greater Indian Ocean Region;

* and Tokyo’s veiled vulnerabilities in being dependent on China’s export of rare earth minerals to power its technological-robotic industries and the risk that Beijing could clandestinely destabilize the Ryukyu Islands through various degrees of pro-autonomy movements all the way up to separatism.

japsailorsmain-qimg-2c351782de73cb7a8c15a2f6a5ea820d-c.jpg

Concluding Thoughts

The simplified points mentioned above demonstrate the phased logic that goes into Japan’s grand strategy and explain some of its more recent moves, whether the surprising decision to enter into a rapprochement with Russia or the somewhat overdue one to partner up with India in the Greater Indian Ocean Region. Everything ultimately comes down to Japan’s seemingly inevitable transition into becoming the world’s first large-scale techno-robotic civilization, however, as it’s from this core trend that all the others are derived to some degree or another. Altogether, the bigger picture behind Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy should allow one to get an idea about the structural limitations inherent to its “China Containment Coalition” actions, as there’s only so much that Tokyo can do and so far that it can go against Beijing before it begins to feel the consequences from the People’s Republic discretely suspending the sale of rare earth minerals to the island nation and/or supporting a destabilizing Ryukyu autonomy campaign.  

The already existing and multidimensional system of complex economic interdependency, coupled with both sides’ near-equal naval capabilities, acts as a form of checks and balances between the two Asian Great Powers and could ideally be reframed in such a way as to convince Japan’s decision makers and strategists of the mutually disadvantageous nature of the Chinese-Japanese rivalry that their American military occupier encouraged them to aggravate over the past couple of years. A reconceptualization of the relationship between these two related civilization-states could inject fresh thinking into this dynamic and demonstrate how beneficial the win-win possibilities of bilateral Silk Road cooperation are in comparison to the lose-lose “zero-sum” game that the US is provoking between them. The US wants to continue using Japan as its “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in perpetuity so that it can “contain China”, but reversely, the failure of this policy would “unchain China” by accelerating the global trend towards a Multipolar World Order.          

As it stands, there aren’t any indications that Japan desires to redirect its grand strategy away from “zero-sum” unipolarity and towards win-win multipolarity, however it nonetheless can’t be ignored that Tokyo is indeed behaving in a relatively independent fashion by continuing to restore its relations with Moscow. Washington obviously isn’t too happy about this, though at the same time, the pragmatic strategists in the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) understand the necessity of this move and appreciate how its optics could be manipulated by savvy propagandists in an attempt to instigate suspicion between Moscow and Beijing, capitalizing on the fact that Russia hasn’t publicly explained its grand strategic balancing act. Looking forward, it’s expected that the Chinese-Japanese competition will continue all along the Greater Indian Ocean Region, merging with the Chinese-Indian one of which it’s now inextricably a part, in order to add critical mass to the Asian component of the New Cold War. 

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

mardi, 13 juin 2017

Historic Battle in the Pacific

BoP-1.jpg

Historic Battle in the Pacific

To see America as it once was, go back to the three days from 4 to 7 June, 1942. During the six months after the devastating Japanese attack on the principal US Pacific base at Pearl Harbor,  Hawaii, US and allies forces across the west Pacific were being mauled by the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Japan’s leading naval strategist, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, was planning a decisive action near Midway Island to lure America’s three aircraft carriers into battle and sink them.

The USS carriers Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown had been sent away from Pearl Harbor before the Japanese attack.  Had they been in port, Japan would have won the Pacific War on 7 Dec 1941.  But they were not, strongly suggesting foreknowledge by the pro-war Roosevelt administration of Japan’s plans.

In fact, US naval code-breakers had deciphered many of Japan’s naval and diplomatic codes that Tokyo believed were secure.   The US also broke many of Germany’s codes.  Almost eight decades later, the US National Security Agency continues this code-breaking tradition.  Small wonder the US is so obsessed with communications security and ELINT, or electronic intelligence.  They were key elements in America’s WWII victory.

Isoroku_Yamamoto.jpg

Yamamoto had made a grave error during the Pearl Harbor attack.  He should have sent his powerful battleships to direct attack the US base with naval gunfire.  There was concern about US coastal 16 inch batteries on Oahu, but Yamamoto should still have bombarded US oil and repair facilities at Pearl Harbor.  Destroying them would have given Japan control of the Pacific for at least a year. In the event, his battleships served little useful purpose during the war and were mostly sunk by later US airstrikes.

Widely dispersed Japanese naval forces, with four fast carriers, moved towards Midway, a tiny atoll 3,500 miles west of Hawaii, to draw the US Navy into battle.

What Yamamoto did not know was that US naval intelligence was reading all of his orders and tracing movement of his ships.  Or that he was facing three of the finest admirals in US history:  Chester Nimitz, Frank Fletcher and Raymond Spruance.

Meanwhile, Adm. Yamamoto had to dispatch a strong navel force to the remote US Aleutian Islands off Alaska to secure backing by the Imperial Japanese Army for the coming Midway battle.   Throughout WWII, Japan’s army and navy operated at cross-purposes or as rivals.  The army wanted to attack Soviet Siberia while the Navy was determined to capture oil sources in SE Asia.  There was almost no coordination between the two and the Emperor failed to impose unity of command.

In a near-miraculous example of American can-do spirits, the carrier ‘Yorktown,’ badly damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea, was rushed back into service to the astonishment of the Japanese.

The two fleets began searching for one another – a process in pre-radar days of  blind luck, like a knife fight in a pitch-black room.   Of course, the US knew where many of the Japanese ships were.  But once Japan’s fleet moved, it was quickly lost again.

Carrier warfare is one of the consummate military arts, a process demanding absolute technical expertise, top command skills, steel nerves, and a lot of luck.  Japan’s admirals, Yamamoto, Nagumo, and Kondo, were experienced and skilled but America’s commanders ranked with Britain’s admirals Nelson and Cochran.

The key to the upcoming battle, which was all  beyond visual range, was searching.  US land and carrier  planes kept flying over search patterns seeking the Japanese carriers ‘Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu,’ all veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack.  The Japanese searched even more intensely. Ironically, a Japanese floatplane that was to search a quadrant in which the US carriers were steaming was badly delayed by mechanical problems and failed to locate the US warships.

BattleOfMidway_planes_t700.jpg

At 0430 on 4 June 1943, Adm. Nagumo launched air attacks on Midway, which was defended by US Marines. As the Japanese attack intensified, Pearl Harbor reportedly sent them a message, ‘what can we send you?’  Came the insolent reply (my father was a Marine in the 5thDivision), ‘send us more Japs.’

Nagumo kept half his torpedo plans and dive bombers armed and in reserve in case US warships were sighted. At 0800, a Japanese search plane reported sighting US carriers while Nagumo still kept attacking Midway.  Unbeknown to him, Adm. Fletcher had already ordered his torpedo planes and dive bombers to attack Nagumo’s fleet that had been spotted by a US PBY flying boat and the heroism of squadron commander C. Wade McClusky.

At 0920, US torpedo squadron 6 from Enterprise flying obsolescent `Devastator’ aircraft attacked the Japanese carriers.  The squadron was massacred by Japanese Zero fighters flying top cover.  At least six US Mark 13 torpedoes hit the Japanese carriers yet failed to explode. US torpedoes were notoriously unreliable as compared to the deadly Japanese long-lance torpedoes.

All 15 of torpedo squadron 6’s Devastators were shot down.  At this dark moment,  three squadrons of Douglas Dauntless dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown arrived while the Japanese were distracted by the torpedo attacks.  Worse, the Japanese carriers were in the process of re-arming their aircraft for new strikes.  The carrier decks were covered with bombs, torpedoes and fuel lines.

At 1022 the US Dauntless dive bombers struck.  Within minutes, three Japanese carriers, Soryu, Kaga and Akagi were in flames.  The surviving Hiryu managed to launch and fatally wound the Yorktown.  US aircraft located then sank the Hiryu.

Four of Japan’s six carriers were sunk and many of her veteran pilots and mechanics were killed.  Both sides broke off the battle to lick their wounds.

Midway marked the high point of Japan’s Pacific offensive. After the battle, Japan lost the military imitative and went on the defensive for the rest of the war.  Japan could not replace the carriers or aircrews lost in battle.  As the war continued, America’s mighty industrial base produced more than eight times more warships and transports than battered Japan.

There were many more naval battles after Midway, but no other nation on earth would dare challenge the US Navy.  America’s sailors and airmen had won the Pacific War in a day that will reverberate in history.

mardi, 14 février 2017

Viaggio in Giappone

Z2.jpg

18:58 Publié dans Actualité, Evénement | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : événement, italie, japon | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

Il samurai di Fiume

samufiume.jpg

Il samurai di Fiume

Harukichi, lillipuziano nel corpo ma titano nello spirito, è in Italia da tempo e a Fiume ci va più che volentieri. Già da studente in Giappone si era innamorato della nostra cultura, della nostra lingua, della nostra storia, e quindi sceglie di venire da noi, a studiare Dante. L’Italia è sua seconda Patria, e la ama tantissimo.
 
di Federico Mosso 
Ex: http://www.linttelletualedissidente.it 
 
Harukichi Shimoi è alto un soldo di cacio, minuscolo persino per i canoni giapponesi. Gabriele D’Annunzio, che pure lui non è di certo un batusso, al suo fianco giganteggia. “Da Fiume d’Italia, Porta d’Oriente, salutiamo la luce dell’Oriente estremo”. È un brindisi in onore del piccolo ospite nipponico, che il Vate concede durante un pranzo a Fiume occupata, anzi liberata, in quello straordinario episodio storico d’irredentismo italiano. Al Camerata Samurai eja eja alalà! Alla “mensa di guerra” si alzano i calici di vino dei signori ufficiali dai petti plurimedagliati; giù nel gargarozzo, l’impresa è nella sua fase di viva esaltazione, i cuori dei legionari bruciano eccitati. In quei mesi tra il 1919 e il 1920 si sta scrivendo la Storia dell’Adriatico.

Harukichi, lillipuziano nel corpo ma titano nello spirito, è in Italia da tempo e a Fiume ci va più che volentieri. Già da studente in Giappone si era innamorato della nostra cultura, della nostra lingua, della nostra storia, e quindi sceglie di venire da noi, a studiare Dante. L’Italia è sua seconda Patria, e la ama tantissimo. Si stabilisce a Napoli dove ha una cattedra all’Istituto Universitario Orientale, antico tempio del sapere europeo, dedicato alla ricerca e allo studio di culture orientali ed extracontinentali. Naturalmente parla benissimo l’italiano, con un simpatico accento partenopeo. All’ombra del Vesuvio nel 1920 fonda e cura la rivista di poesia Sakura prima rassegna moderna europea dell’arte e della poesia dell’Estremo Oriente. Già il nome stesso è poesia: fior di ciliegio, simbolo di bellezza e rinascita, di rigenerazione. Che personaggio, Harukichi, tappo coltissimo pieno di vita, occhi a mandorla e dialetto napoletano. Ma non pensiamo ad una macchietta! Ad un uomo buffo! Sorridiamo piuttosto, a quel nano gigantesco dalle sopracciglia enormi, uomo scalmanato e dotato di curiosità vorace, appassionato di poesia e lui stesso poeta, seguace di D’Annunzio e successivamente ammiratore del fascismo, di cui sarà acceso sostenitore all’estero, quando rientrerà a Tokyo.

Bushido: la via del guerriero. Codice di cavalleria, codice samurai. Onestà, sincerità, lealtà, giustizia, pietà, gentilezza, compassione, rispetto, educazione, dovere, onore. Fino alla morte. Harukichi Shimoi trova un naturale punto di contatto con il fascismo mussoliniano e il retaggio bushido, Sol Levante e Mediterraneo si abbracciano. Harukichi racconta storie della sua patria lontana, e affascina. A Mussolini, che gli è amico, narra le avventure dei vecchi Shogun, di tradizioni secolari, di cappa e spada samurai, del sucidio seppuku delle Tigri Bianche, guerrieri di un reggimento agli ordini del daimyō Katamori Matsudaira, che quando videro il castello del loro signore avvolto dalle fiamme e credendo il daimyō morto, decisero di uccidersi in massa. Il Duce rimane impressionato. Tutt’oggi, nelle vicinanze della città di Aizu, dove c’è il cimitero delle Tigri Bianche,  c’è una colonna di epoca romana e sotto di essa, una targa: Allo spirito del Bushido. È un omaggio commemorativo che Mussolini invia nel 1928, dopo aver ascoltato il racconto di Shimoi.

Facciamo un passo indietro, prima del fascismo, siamo nel mezzo della prima guerra mondiale. Il professore giapponese si arruola come volontario tra le fila del Regio Esercito. Entra nel corpo speciale degli Arditi. Sono gli atleti della trincea, corrono a dare e ricevere la morte. Abili con le bombe a mano, sperimentatori di lanciafiamme, insuperabili con il pugnale. Occhio alla gola, austriaco. Gli Arditi sono esperti nel corpo a corpo e Shimoi fornisce il suo contributo impartendo lezioni di karate, disciplina che possiamo ritenere più che utile nella lotta cattiva di quella guerra. Nel grande carnaio, conosce Gabriele D’Annunzio e i due stringono amicizia. Assieme avrebbero dovuto intraprendere il raid aereo Roma-Tokyo, ma altri eventi irrompono in scena. Li rivediamo infatti assieme, pochi anni dopo, non nei cieli ma a Fiume, durante l’Impresa. Ribellione! I legionari con alla testa il Poeta hanno preso la città del Carnaro, vogliono renderla all’Italia perché è stata rubata, e la colpa del furto è dell’americano, il presidente Wilson che dice no, no, no.

Fiume, 1919-20, sedici mesi di insonnia, che esperienza deve esser stata per chi l’ha vissuta. Altro che Sessantotto, tsè. Baraonda di libertà e festa, ma anche e soprattutto fucina di idee, arti, politica. Harukichi Shimoi ci arriva a febbraio del ’20. Poche sono le informazioni sulla sua permanenza fiumana. Ma allora che queste righe si prendano la licenza di uscire dalla serietà della ricerca storica e che introducano un elemento di fiction per infrangere liberi le leggi della corretta cronologia: ci interessa capire l’ambiente. Gli occhi a mandorla del nostro amico letterato sono il mezzo fiction con cui si vuole raccontare quello che a Fiume è successo per davvero. Harukichi Shimoi passeggia per le strade e le piazze della città, piccolo ma fiero nella sua divisa d’ardito con il pugnale e il nero fez, e i suoi occhi curiosi sotto le sopracciglia enormi osservano e ci riportano episodi. Corri corri generale: tutti sotto il balcone del Palazzo del Governo, il Comandante Governatore parla alla folla: “In questo folle e vile mondo Fiume è oggi un simbolo di libertá; nel mondo folle e vile vi è una sola cosa pura: Fiume; vi è una sola verità …” D’Annunzio arringa, bravissimo, e sotto il tripudio. Ma da chi è composta la folla? È una ressa multiforme, multicolore, multiculturale. Lista disordinata di individui: arditi, alpini, bersaglieri, carabinieri, avventurieri, cittadini, signore, puttane, marinai, aviatori, eroi, artisti, poeti, futuristi, fasciopionieri, studenti, anarchici, libertini, bohémien, dandy, imperialisti, sognatori, pirati, sbandati, nazionalisti, sindacalisti, socialisti, monarchici, repubblicani, stranieri, rivoluzionari, pazzi. È il marasma magnifico di individui, pensieri e intenti; episodio unico ed irrepetibile.

Gli occhi del giapponese scrutano affamati di cose, uomini, azioni, e si riempiono. Laggiù al porto, i ragazzacci del UCM – Ufficio Colpi di Mano, festeggiano la caccia fortunata, hanno arrembato un mercantile, molte le provviste di bottino. Sono gli uscocchi, i corsari di D’Annunzio, vanno in missione di guerriglia marina, assaltano per rifornire la città. In corso Dante è l’ora dell’aperitivo. Fa il suo quotidiano ingresso trionfale, con la corte di ammiratori e fanciulle, in bombetta e bastone, il futuruomo Marinetti. Cammina svelto, ha l’attenzione di altri passanti, dunque si ferma e declama: “Ritti sulla cima del mondo, noi scagliamo, una volta ancora, la nostra sfida alle stelle!” Volano le bombette, pure qualche sedia dei caffé. Il clima è orgiastico, i postriboli incassano, il sesso è mercenario, certamente,  ma anche donato perché gli amori sbocciano molti e liberi, l’euforia è afrodiasiaca, e altresì l’appartamento del Principe D’Annunzio ha la sua porticina segreta, vecchie e nuove fiamme  rendono omaggio al poeta armato quando cala la notte.

Il Camerata Samurai nella Fiume delle ore piccole, continua la sua esplorazione della nostra Storia, che ora è fantastica. Dalle osterie esce chiasso, il vino scorre, sempre, dai bordelli escono i legionari che sorridono, contenti. Un drappello furtivo s’infila in un portone poco illuminato. Vanno a comprare cocaina. Ce n’è parecchia, va di moda. Sono stati gli aviatori, con le loro scatoline d’oro dove custodivano la polvere pestifera, a far tendenza malandrina. La usavano in azione durante voli estenuanti, adesso la fiutano anche a terra. Pure il Vate prende il vizio, a 57 anni suonati si farcisce  le narici golose. In un angolo, una rissa: son cose che capitano quando c’è grande concentrazione di animi surriscaldati. Dopotutto, sono tanti i reduci; è gente che quieta non sa più stare; è gente per sempre scossa dal massacro, gli abiti borghesi stanno stretti. Succede anche in Germania con i Freikorps, oppure anche in Stati Uniti, nel secondo dopoguerra, con i veterani dell’aria che si aggregano in bande di motociclisti, come gli Hells Angels. Il soldato in guerra impara la vita guerriera e l’orrore, ma quando la guerra finisce? Non tutti vogliono o riescono a rientrare nei ranghi civili, nella moderazione, nella quiete. Anche nel primo dopoguerra italiano, è così.

Me ne frego! Il motto è coniato a Fiume. In esso tutto un universo di volontà individualiste, turbolente, di rendere la vita una fiamma che arde. Nessun futuro, viviamo adesso, da leoni.  E un leone coraggioso anche se strambo e indisciplinato è Guido Keller, con cui Harukichi si ferma a fare due parole, sotto un lampione, prima dell’alba. Esistono gli uomini “normali” e poi esistono i Keller. Keller è un Keller. Asso dell’aviazione di guerra, non sta mai fermo, lui è edonista, eccentrico, nudista, tritone adriatico, primo corsaro di Fiume ed è amico di una bellissima aquila addestrata con cui certe volte dorme appollaiato in cima agli alberi: che sia voglia incontrollabile di cielo, mal di nuvole, il richiamo delle stelle? Li raggiunge Giovanni Comisso, legionario e scrittore. Comisso e Keller si spingono oltre, danno vita a il Gruppo Yoga, con tendenze esoteriche, e scelgono simboli raccolti dall’Oriente misterioso come la svastica (è inutile stropicciarsi gli occhi, siamo nel 1920, il nazismo è solo un feto, anzi nemmeno feto, solo seme) e la rosa a cinque petali.

Sulla rivista “YOGA” c’è scritto: Unione libera di spirti di Fiume: Grifone Italico! Lo stile e la forma dell’azione sono elette dalla bellezza, e vi obbediscono. Quante altre cose potremmo far vedere agli occhi di Harukichi Shimoi, il Camerata Samurai di Fiume, scomodato per l’occasione per una veloce testimonianza sugli aspetti più colorati dell’Impresa di fiumana, esplosione di orgoglio nazionale, militare e allo stesso tempo ribelle.

Rientrando nei ranghi della Storia per bene e severa, come va fatta, scopriamo che Shimoi, capitano degli Arditi, è scelto da D’Annunzio come suo personale messaggero per l’odiato amico Mussolini. Il giapponese fa da collegamento, porta e riceve messaggi, s’intrufola tra le linee che stringono la città insonne, viaggia per la causa degli italiani, la sua causa. Non andiamo oltre, il tempo scorre, seguono altre storie, nuovi ordini, un’altra guerra. Diamo ancora un ultimo sguardo all’Impresa. La giovinezza è al potere, a Fiume, luogo fuori dal tempo, esperimento storico, laboratorio di quello che verrà, alchimia di passioni. La Storia diviene arte.

 
 
 

16:51 Publié dans Histoire | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : histoire, fiume, italie, japon, gabriele d'annunzio, harukishi shimoi | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

mercredi, 25 janvier 2017

Le Japon se prépare-t-il à la guerre ?

japarmy66_ap.jpg

Bob Woodward:

Ex: http://www.decryptnewsonline.com 

A partir d'aujourd'hui, les forces d'autodéfense nippones se livrent à des exercices pour anticiper un conflit militaire entre les deux rives du détroit de Formose. L’armée japonaise va effectuer un exercice de simulation d’affrontement militaire entre la Chine et Taïwan, avec la participation en tant qu’observateur de l’armée américaine, a selon l’agence de presse Kyodo.

« Aucun déploiement de troupe n’aura lieu et le scénario est celui d’une réponse des Etats-Unis et du Japon à un conflit militaire« , a indiqué Kyodo.

Selon une source du gouvernement japonais, le but de l’exercice est de vérifier comment les membres de l’armée devraient s’acquitter de nouvelles tâches autorisées en vertu de la nouvelle loi japonaise sur la sécurité dans le déclenchement d’une situation considérée comme menaçant sérieusement la paix et la sécurité du pays, a précisé l’agence de presse japonaise.

De son côté, le ministère chinois des affaires étrangères a rappelé à Tokyo que « la question de Taïwan est une affaire interne de la Chine et nous espérons que le Japon sera très prudent dans ses paroles et ses actes (…) et ne fera rien qui compromettrait la paix régionale et la stabilité« .

« Je pense que cela montre qu’un monde stable est la dernière chose que certains veulent au Japon », a considéré la porte-parole du ministère Hua Chunying. Cette annonce vient compliquer un peu plus la situation.

L’armée taïwanaise a également réalisé des exercices militaires en vue d’une guerre contre la Chine continentale, alors que les relations entre les deux rives de Taïwan restent difficile.

Cet exercice japonais, en présence d’observateur américain, n’apaise en rien les craintes de Beijing, qui doit composer avec une nouvelle administration américaine, ayant déjà rompu avec quatre décennies de relations diplomatique, en prenant un appel téléphonique de la dirigeante taïwanaise Tsaï Ing-wen. Or selon la a source du gouvernement japonais, l’exercice était prévu avant que Donald Trump ne prenne ses fonctions, le 20 janvier.

D’après le reportage de l’agence japonaise, les forces d’autodéfense du Japon (l’armée) feront cet exercice simulé du lundi 23 au vendredi 27 janvier 2017, en présence de militaires américains y participant en tant qu’observateur.

C’est un scénario qui depuis quelques semaines s’invite dans les discussions d’experts et de diplomates : un affrontement militaire entre la Chine et Taïwan. Le Japon vient mettre son grain de sel dans le débat en menant, à partir d’aujourd’hui et jusqu’à la fin de la semaine, des exercices de simulation en cas de conflit entre les deux rives du détroit de Formose. Aucun déploiement de troupes n’aura lieu. Tokyo entend vérifier comment, en cas de clash, les forces d’autodéfense nippones (SDF) effectueraient leurs nouvelles tâches autorisées par la loi de sécurité entrée en vigueur en mars dernier.

Jusqu’à présent, les SDF japonaises n’avaient pas pour mission d’intervenir en dehors des frontières de l’archipel. Si elles l’ont fait par le passé, à de très rares exceptions, c’était uniquement pour des motifs humanitaires. Dorénavant, au nom du principe de «l’autodéfense collective», Tokyo peut fournir un soutien logistique à d’autres forces armées, même si le Japon n’est pas directement menacé.
Coup de fil et coup de sang

En novembre, les SDF et les GI’s de la marine américaine ont d’ailleurs effectué leurs premiers exercices conjoints. Cette semaine, des observateurs américains assisteront aux simulations japonaises qui sonnent comme une nouveauté. Jusqu’à présent, ces entraînements concernaient essentiellement le Japon.

Ainsi, il était fréquent que le ministère de la Défense communique sur des opérations visant à reconquérir une île ou à la défendre contre un agresseur. Le nom était rarement mentionné mais tout le monde comprenait que le Japon surveillait de très près l’évolution autour de l’archipel des Senkaku, nationalisé par Tokyo en 2012, que la Chine revendique en l’appelant «les îlots Diaoyu». Cette fois, les Japonais quittent donc leurs eaux territoriales pour croiser dans des mers chargées en revendications.

L’exercice simulé intervient au moment où les relations entre la Chine et Taiwan connaissent un nouveau pic de tensions. L’échange téléphonique en décembre du président élu Donald Trump avec la présidente taïwanaise Tsai Ing-wen a alarmé Pékin. En prenant l’appel de Tsai Ing-wen, Trump a rompu avec près de quatre décennies de politique américaine qui respectait le principe de la «Chine unique» selon lequel tout Etat entretenant des relations diplomatiques avec Pékin ne peut en avoir simultanément avec Taïpei.

japan-navy-plan.jpg

Depuis 1949 et l’installation sur l’île des nationalistes de Tchang Kaï-chek, les Chinois considèrent Taiwan – indépendante de facto – comme une province renégate qui doit repasser, selon eux, sous le contrôle du continent. Depuis l’élection de Tsai Ing-wen l’année dernière, la Chine n’a cessé les mises en garde et les pressions sur la première présidente élue dans la seule démocratie du monde chinois. Depuis sa victoire, Tsai Ing-wen a appelé le régime chinois à «respecter l’intégrité de l’île». En septembre 1954, alors même que l'acte final de la conférence de Genève allait régler la guerre d'Indochine, Mao Zedong intimait à Zhou Enlai l'ordre de mettre au premier plan la «libération» de Taiwan: «Nous avons eu tort de ne pas nous consacrer à la tâche de libérer Taiwan juste après le cessez-le-feu en Corée; si nous tergiversons encore, nous commettrons une sérieuse erreur politique.» De novembre 1954 à mai 1955, un déluge d'obus s'abattit sur les petites îles tenues par le régime nationaliste, et l'armée populaire de libération s'empara des îles Dachen au nez et à la barbe de l'armada américaine dépêchée dans le détroit de Taiwan. Les Etats-Unis finirent toutefois, en mars 1955, par menacer publiquement d'employer des armes nucléaires tactiques contre la Chine en cas d'agression ultérieure, et notamment contre les îles de Quemoy et de Matsu, beaucoup mieux défendues. En avril 1955, la Chine mit fin à la crise quand Zhou Enlai, depuis le sommet afro-asiatique de Bandung, proclama son désir de paix avec les Etats-Unis.

En août 1958, vingt-quatre heures après que le président Eisenhower eut proposé à Nikita Khrouchtchev le premier sommet soviéto-américain de la guerre froide, et une réduction des armements nucléaires, Mao Zedong déclenchait une deuxième crise dans le détroit de Formose: à nouveau, une pluie d'obus s'abattit contre les petites îles fortifiées détenues par les nationalistes, provoquant la mobilisation de la VIIe Flotte dans le détroit. Après quelques semaines critiques pendant lesquelles les îles furent en danger sérieux, les Américains réussirent à établir une ligne de ravitaillement à Quemoy, y débarquant publiquement, entre autres, des mortiers susceptibles de lancer des charges nucléaires tactiques. Dès lors, l'offensive chinoise perdait toute chance de réussir: mais les bombardements continuèrent de façon intermittente pendant plus d'une décennie.

Ces précédents doivent aujourd'hui être examinés avec soin. D'abord, dans les deux cas, c'est à cause d'une détente internationale que la Chine populaire passa à l'offensive contre la Chine nationaliste, et le monde extérieur fut totalement surpris. En 1954, Mao ne pouvait supporter de voir la question de Taiwan sombrer dans l'oubli, alors que d'autres conflits asiatiques de la guerre froide trouvaient une solution. En 1958, la crise de Quemoy et de Matsu lui permettait de s'opposer à la coexistence pacifique qui s'amorçait entre les deux Grands.

Au début du mois, la Chine a dépêché son unique porte-avions, le Liaoning, dans le détroit de Taiwan, déclenchant l’envoi d’avions de reconnaissance par Taiwan. Il y a vingt ans, les deux rives du détroit avaient traversé une grave crise. Pékin avait tiré plusieurs salves de missiles dans les eaux territoriales taïwanaises au moment où le gouvernement de Lee Teng-hui multipliait les déclarations pro-démocratiques et que le pays s’apprêtait à voter. Alliés de Taïwan, les Etats-Unis avaient alors expédié une partie de leur flotte dans les eaux de la mer de Chine.

Aujourd’hui la Chine de Xi Jinping affirme de plus en plus son hégémonie sur les mers de la région. Et elle entend «défendre ses intérêts fondamentaux dans le cadre des affaires intérieures de la Chine», comme l’a rappelé vendredi Hua Chunying, la porte-parole du ministère chinois des Affaires étrangères qui réagissait à l’annonce des exercices simulés japonais. «Pour certaines personnes au Japon, il semble que la paix est la dernière chose qu’elles souhaitent. […] Nous espérons que le Japon pourra mesurer ses paroles et ses actes sur les questions liées à Taïwan […] et éviter d’envoyer un signal erroné aux forces indépendantes de Taiwan.»

De son côté, l’archipel du nationaliste Shinzo Abe a musclé sa diplomatie et armé sa défense depuis quatre ans. Tout en se posant en «contributeur proactif pour la paix», le Japon s’est montré plus présent dans le Pacifique, multipliant les discours ainsi que les aides techniques et financières aux pays de la région en butte à l’hégémonie chinoise. Avec Taiwan, quatrième partenaire commercial du Japon, Tokyo a renforcé ses relations.

Avant même son élection, Tsai Ing-wen s’était rendue en visite dans l’archipel au grand dam de Pékin. Fin décembre, un parlementaire japonais membre du parti libéral démocrate, Keisuke Suzuki, défendait des liens plus forts entre les deux archipels et l’idée d’une coopération militaire plus étroite. «L’existence d’un Taiwan libre est fondamentale pour la sécurité du Japon. A partir du moment où Taiwan subit trop de fortes pressions de la Chine continentale, c’est aussi un problème pour la sécurité nationale du Japon lui-même.»

Taiwan s’est lancé dans un programme de développement de son arsenal militaire, notamment de sous-marin. Les Etats-Unis suggèrent dorénavant à Taïpei d’augmenter ses budgets de défense. Il y a quelques jours, les troupes taïwanaises ont organisé, elles aussi, des exercices grandeur nature pour se préparer à une attaque chinoise.

samedi, 10 décembre 2016

Why Did Japan Choose a Suicidal War in 1941?

 

Seven decades after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor some truth is finally beginning to emerge from the miasma of propaganda that still clouds our vision of World War II.

It seems clear by now that President Franklin Roosevelt’s White House knew from deciphered  codes that Japan was planning an attack on America’s key naval base in Hawaii. Shamefully, the senior US Navy and Army commanders at Pearl Harbor were not informed of the impending attack. The US Navy’s three aircraft carriers were coincidentally moved far from harm’s way before the attack, leaving only obsolescent World War I battleships in port as sitting ducks.

Roosevelt was eager to get the United States into war against Germany at all costs. But Americans wanted no part of Europe’s war, recalling how British propaganda had deceived America into World War I. The single largest ethnic group in America was of German origin.  In the 1880’s, my native New York City was the third most populous German city on earth after Berlin and Hamburg.

Roosevelt, whose sympathies lay far to the left in spite of his patrician background, understood that only a surprise attack would provoke Americans into war.

At the time, the US supplied 80% of Japan’s oil, 100% of its aviation fuel, and much of its metal. Roosevelt demanded Japan vacate China that it had invaded, or face an embargo of these vital strategic materials on which Japan’s industry depended. Japan’s fascist military government refused, as Washington knew it would. A US embargo ensued.

jappilot.jpgJapan had a one-year strategic reserve of oil.  Its stark choice was either run out of oil, fuel, and scrap steel over 12 months or go to war while it still had these resources. The only other potential source of oil for Japan was the distant Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia.

In 1991, then US President George H.W. Bush claimed that the US had a right to go to war with Iraq to assure its supply of oil.

Japan’s leading naval strategist, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, gloomily predicted before Pearl Harbor that Japan was going to war for oil and would be defeated because of it. He was absolutely correct.  America was ten times more powerful than Japan and had a huge industrial capacity.

It was a suicidal war for Japan in all aspects.  Japan’s powerful army, deployed to occupy China and perhaps fight the Soviet Union,  cared nothing for the Pacific.  By contrast, the  Imperial Japanese Navy had no interest in China.  Its goal was the conquest of the oil-rich Dutch East Indies, British-ruled Malaya,  French-ruled Indo-China and the US-ruled Philippines and Pacific territories.  Making matters worse,  Japan’s navy and army ran separate wars, without any coordination, unified industrial policy or common strategy – in short, two different wars for a nation that was not even up to one conflict at a time.

Japan claimed it was waging a crusade to ‘liberate’ Asia from the Western imperial rule. But few Asians bought this argument due to the brutality and arrogance of their Japanese occupiers.

Looking back, it was indeed an old-fashioned imperial war: the Japanese Empire versus the American, British, French and Dutch empires.  The last empire, the Soviet Union, did not get involved until its smashing victory against Japan’s Kwantung Army in 1945, one of WWII’s greatest campaigns but now totally forgotten.

Why did the Japanese,  an intelligent, clever people, think they could defeat the US and its allies? My view after long studying this question is that Japan’s militarists, boxed into a corner by Roosevelt’s crushing embargo, had to choose between a humiliating surrender to the US and giving up China, or a suicidal war.

Japan’s samurai culture that infused its armed forces saw surrender as the ultimate shame. Death in battle was preferable to surrender and the only honorable course for warriors.

Japanese militarized society had a belief in the ‘nobility of failure’ that was unknown to other peoples.

For Japan’s warriors, the highest glory and honor lay in choosing to fight a battle against greatly superior forces in which defeat and death were clearly inevitable. This was the ultimate expression of the knightly code of ‘bushido’ that guided Japan’s warrior caste.

By June 1944, Japan’s imports of strategic material and food were cut off by US submarines. Half its cities were burning. The population was starving.  Meanwhile, the US was assembling its atomic bombs.

In a final act of folly, right after Pearl Harbor Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States, presenting Roosevelt, whose government had numerous high-ranking Soviet agents, the war he had so long wanted.

dimanche, 04 décembre 2016

Chant de la Tatenokai ( Société du bouclier), fondée par Yukio Mishima

tatenokai.jpg

Chant de la Tatenokai ( Société du bouclier), fondée par Yukio Mishima

起て!紅の若き獅子たち (高音質ハイレゾ)

起て!紅の若き獅子たち (楯の會の歌) 昭和45年5月

作  詞 三島 由紀夫
作編曲 越部 信義 
歌 唱 三島由紀夫と楯の會


夏は稲妻 冬は霜
富士山麓に 鍛え来し
若きつはもの これにあり
われらが武器は 大和魂
とぎすましたる刃こそ
晴朗の日の 空の色
雄々しく進め 楯の會
 
憂いは隠し 夢は秘め
品下りし世に 眉上げて
男とあれば 祖國を
蝕む敵を 座視せんや
やまとごころを 人問わば
青年の血の燃ゆる色
凛々しく進め 楯の會
  
兜のしるし 楯ぞ我
すめらみくにを守らんと
嵐の夜に逆らひて
よみがえりたる 若武者の
頬にひらめく曙は
正大の気の旗の色
堂々進め 楯の會

dimanche, 06 novembre 2016

World Religion of the Future

World War II was not a struggle between nationalism and globalism. It was a battle between conflicting visions of world order: a deracinating, soulless global marketplace vs. an Indo-European planetary hegemony based on a future pan-Aryan religion. At least, that is how the leader of the Kyoto School saw it.

tomo.jpgDespite his claim that the cultural crisis brought on by worldwide technological advancement could not be solved by a wholesale adoption of Eastern traditions such as Zen Buddhism, Martin Heidegger engaged in many conversations with… Japanese scholars throughout his philosophical career. His first and perhaps most significant encounter with the East took place as early as 1919, eight years before the publication of Being and Time. After having attended Heidegger’s 1918 lectures, one of his Japanese students, Tomonobu Imamichi, introduced Heidegger to the concept of “being in the world.” In The Book of Tea (1906), Tomonobu’s teacher, Okakura Kakuzo had used these words to describe an aspect of Zhuangzi’s spiritual vision.

tea03864558-us-300.jpgThe Book of Tea uses the tea ceremony to explore the wabi-sabi aesthetic experience cultivated in Japanese Zen arts and crafts. The early German translation of The Book of Tea uses the words das-in-der-Welt-sein, which, via Imamichi, found their way into the heart and soul of Heidegger’s 1927 magnum opus. Interestingly, Heidegger’s philosophical career not only begins under Japanese influence, it also ends with it. One of the essays in his last work On the Way to Language is “A Dialogue on Language” between “a Japanese and an inquirer” who remain significantly unnamed

In his “Introduction to Heideggerian Existentialism”, Leo Strauss makes much of Heidegger’s ‘Eastern’ response to the crisis of world-enframing technology in the absence of a genuine global society. Strauss observes that modern technology is forcing the material conditions of a World Society upon us, without a common world culture as its basis. It is the unification of mankind on the basis of the lowest common denominator. This leads to “lonely crowds” suffering from a pervasive sense of alienation and anomie. Furthermore, Strauss recognizes that no genuine culture in the world has ever arisen without a religious basis, without addressing man’s need for something noble and great beyond himself. So the world society, being wrought largely as a consequence of apparently valueless technological forces, is ironically one in need, not merely of a universal ethics, but of one world religion. The world religion must emerge out of the deepest reflection on the crisis of cultural relativism, and on the essence of the technological forces bringing it about:

[Heidegger] called it the “night of the world.” It means indeed, as Marx had predicted, the victory of an ever more completely urbanized, ever more completely technological West over the whole planet – complete leveling and uniformity… unity of the human race on the lowest level, complete emptiness of life… How can there be hope? Fundamentally, because there is something in man which cannot be satisfied by the world society: the desire for the genuine, for the noble, for the great. The desire has expressed itself in man’s ideals, but all previous ideals have proved to be related to societies which were not world societies. The old ideals will not enable man to overcome the power, to weaken the power, of technology. We may also say: a world society can be human only if there is a world culture, a culture genuinely uniting all men. But there never has been a high culture without a religious basis: the world society can be human only if all men are genuinely united by a world religion.

Explicating Heidegger, Strauss explains that in order for it to be possible to overcome technology, which is not at all the same as rejecting it, there must be a sphere of thought or contemplation beyond the rationalism developed by the Greeks and forwarded in Western science and technology. This must be an understanding of the world from behind or beneath the will to mathematize all beings with a view to instrumental manipulation of them on demand (bestand). It must understand the difference between Being and beings, and that Being is no-thing that can be mastered. The to be which is always as present at hand, is taken by Rationalism as the standard of being – that which really is, is always present, available, accessible. Instead, Strauss thinks that: “a more adequate understanding of being is intimated by the assertion that to be means to be elusive or to be a mystery.” Strauss claims that “this is the Eastern understanding of Being” and he adds that: “We can hope beyond technological world society, we can hope for a genuine world society, only if we become capable of learning from the East… Heidegger is the only man who has an inkling of the dimensions of the problem of a world society.”

nishida001-7a112.jpg…The thinkers of the Kyoto School of Philosophy were in favor of the war and have been collectively referred to as the “philosophers of nothingness”. Some of them had a constructive vision of how the Buddhist understanding of the void could complement the techno-scientific thinking of the West in order to bring about a new global civilization. Key figures among them, such as Nishida Kitaro, were students of Heidegger as early as the 1920s, and like Heidegger they saw the world war as the means to bring about a global culture that would ground techno-scientific development in a spirituality transcending insular and traditional values.

Remember that the Indian caste system that Nietzsche so admired, and that was based on regimented and hierarchically stratified class divisions, was a function of the Aryan conquest of the native Dravidian population of India. This origin is reflected in the Sanskrit name for the “caste” of the caste system, varna, which literally means “color” so that it was once a color-coding system. The four classes were: the Brahmins – the Vedic priests or scholars (including those who engaged in various proto-scientific practices); the Kshatriyas – the caste of knightly warriors, including feudal lords as chief amongst them; the Vaishyas – the business class, including both farmers and various types of merchants; and the Shudras – menial laborers, usually involved in undignified or hard labor. Finally, there were also “outcaste untouchables” that were relegated to an inhumanly low status. “Prince” Siddhartha Gotama belonged to the Kshatriya class.

The Buddha was a light-skinned blue eyed Aryan whose father was a feudal lord and who was expected to become a knight. In his late writings, Nishida Kitaro explains how it is that “Indian culture”, from which Japan inherited Buddhism (including the symbol of the swastika that is ubiquitous at Japanese temples) and which shares the Aryan or ‘Indo-European’ ethnic roots of European culture, “has evolved as an opposite pole to modern European culture… and may thereby be able to contribute to a global modern culture from its own vantage point.” What is the “global modern culture” that Nishida envisions?

Well, he certainly views it as having a religious basis and he thinks that the world war during which he is writing is a means to achieving it: “And does not the spirit of modern times seek a religion of infinite compassion rather than that of the Lord of ten thousand hosts? It demands reflection in the spirit of Buddhist compassion. This is the spirit which says that the present world war must be for the sake of negating world wars, for the sake of eternal peace.” In every true religion the divine is an absolute love that embraces its opposite, to the extent of even becoming Satan, and this is the meaning of the concept of upaya or shrewdly bringing to bear “skillful means” in Mahayana Buddhism so that “the miracles” of “this world may be said to be… the Buddha’s expedient means.” This all-embracing character of the divine, as that which encompasses what one would take to be its opposite, “is the basic reason why we are beings who can be compassionate to others and who can experience the compassion of others. Compassion always signifies that opposites are one in the dynamic reciprocity of their own contradictory identity.”

A God who is the Lord (Dominus) in the sense of an ultimately transcendent substance cannot be a truly creative God. Creation ex nihilo would be both arbitrary and superfluous; it must be out of love that God or Buddha creatively manifests the world from out of its own self-negation. Nishida believes that the school of Prajnaparamita thought in Mahayana Buddhism, established by Nagarjuna, has a deeper and more adequate understanding of this than pantheistic Western thinkers of dialectical synthesis, such as the Hegelians, who remain within the realm of reason even in their negative theologies. Nishida nevertheless refers to his ontology of the absolute’s self-expression and transformation as “Trinitarian” and compares it to Neo-Platonic thought.

However, Neo-Platonism and all pagan western thought falls short insofar as it fails to see Satan or “absolute evil” as an aspect of God. He adds: “The absolute God must include absolute negation within himself, and must be the God who descends into ultimate evil. The highest form must be one that transforms the lowest matter into itself. Absolute agape must reach even to the absolutely evil man. This is again the paradox of God: God is hidden even within the heart of the absolutely evil man. A God who merely judges the good and the bad is not truly absolute.” In passages such as these we see that Shunyata (in Sanskrit, Mu in Japanese) is not the Nothing of Descartes at all. Quite to the contrary of serving as an entirely distinct polar opposite of a Perfect Being that would exonerate the latter from being the source of any imperfection, this Nothingness is an inner dynamic tension within Being – as expressed in the spectral incompleteness and interdependent interpenetration of all beings. The battle between God and Nothingness in the heart of man, the “dynamic equilibrium” between “is” and “is not”, may be paradoxical but it is also the existential ‘ground’ of the volitional person. “Radical evil” lies ineradicably at the root of our freedom. We are always already “both satanic and divine.” Nishida claims that the Buddha – or any other conception of divinity – outside of one’s own existential potentiality is not the true Buddha:

Only in this existential experience of religious remorse does the self encounter what Rudolf Otto calls the numinous. Subjectively speaking, the encounter is a deep reflection upon the existential depths of the self itself; and as the Buddhists say, it means to see our essential nature, to see the true self. In Buddhism, this seeing means, not to see Buddha objectively outside, but to see into the bottomless depths of one’s own soul. If we see God externally, it is merely magic. …Illusion is the fountainhead of all evil. Illusion arises when we conceive of the objectified self as the true self. The source of illusion is in seeing the self in terms of object logic. It is for this reason that Mahayana Buddhism says that we are saved through enlightenment. But this enlightenment is generally misunderstood. For it does not mean to see anything objectively… It is rather an ultimate seeing of the bottomless nothingness of the self that is simultaneously a seeing of the fountainhead of sin and evil.

In this Zen injunction to kill any conception of a Buddha outside oneself, Nishida does not deny the cycle of birth and death or samsara as an empirical or phenomenological fact, he simply insists that the truly religious consciousness is one that has recognized the identity of samsara and nirvana. On his terms, and according to the sages of the esoteric Buddhist tradition, nirvana does not mean to attain some state distinct from and after samsara but to recognize that in every moment of the cycle of reincarnation the perfection beyond the impurity of karma is already present. This does not mean that the self “transcends its own historical actuality – it does not transcend its own karma – but rather that it realizes the bottomless bottom of its own karma.”

statue-buddha_118786_pgbighd.jpg

This relatively late Mahayanist view is anathema to the teaching of Siddhartha Gotama and the early Indian Buddhism founded on it. According to the Buddha Dharma, just as there are physical, biological, and psychological laws operative in the cosmos, there is also an ethical law. The law of karma is a lawful relationship between one’s actions, including verbal and unspoken mental acts that express one’s volition (cetana), and both the realm within which one is reborn as well as the conditions of life that one experiences within this realm. The ethical quality of one’s volition is supposed to resonate with the qualitative character of a certain realm of existence, and to tune into this realm, as it were, as a consequence of being on the same wavelength. Within these more general parameters what one experiences within a given realm of existence is conditioned by one’s actions both within the present life and in past lives. The fundamental presupposition here is that even if an action or intention does not appear to bear fruit (phala) presently, it reverberates in ways that one may remain unconscious of until it finally yields some tangible results (vipaka) – possibly later in one’s present life, but perhaps not until a future life.

While psychological research in the wake of the coming spectral revolution in Science might validate certain classes of phenomena associated with Buddhism as genuine natural phenomena, it is likely to reveal significant Buddhist misunderstandings of these very same phenomena and to profoundly challenge Buddhist codes of ethics. This is the case with the Reincarnation research of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson… What would disturb Buddhists most about Stevenson’s apparent validation of one of the central tenants of their religion is that the ethical idea of karma is untenable in light of his scientific research into the reality of Reincarnation as a natural phenomenon. What Stevenson found is that a person’s strong psychic impression of localized bodily injury at the time of a violent death or terrible accident, could affect fetal development of the body to be subsequently inhabited by that person to produce a birthmark or birth defect corresponding to the site of injury and even the shape or type of injury. In other words there are many cases of the following type: an innocent person is attacked and has his arm hacked off by a murderer and while the victim is reborn with that arm badly deformed, the murderer not only gets away scot free in his present incarnation, he also does not suffer any apparent ill effects in his subsequent incarnation.

Nirvana is the goal of the path, the aim of the Buddha Dharma. Yet, it is the most obscure element of Gotama’s teachings and, unlike karma, meditation, and the moral disciplines, it is one of the ideas most unique to his understanding of the Dharma as compared to the various pre-Buddhist forms of Sanatana Dharma (aka. ‘Hinduism). It is referred to at times as an element or a state, a state of supreme bliss, and yet it is supposed to be beyond any conditioned state, whether painful or even pleasurable. At times Siddhartha discusses Nirvana as if it were attainable amidst the present life and at other times it seems like a total annihilation that a perfectly enlightened person can pass into upon the disintegration of what will be his final body. What, then, is the difference between this annihilation and the so-called “annihilationism” that is one of the wrong views most destructive of an ethical life? Is the Buddha Dharma, in its original form, essentially a grand doctrine of suicide? Does it opt out of actual suicide because it will not do any good, since the underlying tendencies of the psyche are still active and will reorganize around a new physical aggregate, so that suicide can only be truly successful by unbinding the threads of this psyche – by disintegrating the soul?

nirv774x500.jpg

Nirvana means “snuffing out” or “blowing out”, as in putting out a flame or fire. Orthodox Buddhists of the Theravada tradition most directly descended from the teachings of Gotama suggest that the answer to the perplexing question as to who attains Nirvana and where he attains it, namely as to whether a Buddha or arahant exists in Nirvana after death or is annihilated and passes into nothingness, can be simply answered by saying that the perfectly enlightened person simply “goes out” or is “put out.” He was a flame burning with the fire of life, but this fire of ceaseless suffering has been put out. Phew! Can there be a more pessimistic and nihilistic view of life? At least the man who actually commits suicide affirms a life that would be worth living by comparison to his own, which he judges intolerable only as compared to some ideal. He would also be affirming a sense of history wherein the future can be meaningfully different from any past epoch, an understanding of time that warrants a historical struggle – even if not one that he can personally bear to participate in here and now. It is above all in Japan where this early Buddhist nihilism gave way to the world-historical ethos of the fiery forge.

Nishida draws a distinction between physical, biological, and historical life. The teleological irreversibility of time in the course of organic development is key to his distinction between the first two. Whereas the world of biological life forms remains partially spatial and material, in the human world time negates space and the spatialized chronological ‘time’ relevant to inorganic physics. As Nishida puts it: “We can even say that there is no death for a merely biological being. For death entails that a self enter into eternal nothingness. It is because a self enters into eternal nothingness that it is historically irrepeatable, unique, and individual.” Only in the face of this “eternal death” qua nothingness is genuine individuation possible and only the real individual becomes agitated by the religious question. A being who carries out its moral duty for duty’s sake, in other words out of adherence to what Kant frames as the categorical imperative, would have no individuality; religion can have no meaning for such an abstract subject without any concrete will. Groundless nothingness (Shunyata) is the unstable and ghostly horizon of one’s finite existence, and existential awareness of this ultimate and inescapable negation of one’s self is not a merely noetic reflection.

Nishida approvingly attributes to Fyodor Dostoyevsky the “standpoint of freedom” which holds that: “There is nothing at all that determines the self at the very ground of the self.” From the vantage point of his own time, Nishida sees the spirit of Dostoyevsky as the closest point of contact between Japanese spirituality and the West. He admonishes the Japanese for having remained too insular and that the spiritual sense for the ordinary and everyday that Japan shares with Dostoyevsky has hitherto been too superficial. “At this juncture,” he says, “it must come to possess an acute Dostoievskian spirit in an eschatological sense, as the Japanese spirit participating in world history.” Nishida hopes that “in this way” the hybridized Japanese civilization “can become a point of departure for a new global culture.” Nishida sees the way that the Yahweh “folk religion of the Jewish race” evolved into a world religion, and one that served as the basis for a medieval European culture that he clearly admires, as a model for a potential globalizing evolution of Japanese tradition. The “scientific” secularization characteristic of modern Western civilization, wherein “old worlds lose their specific traditions”, is a necessary phase in the formation of “a global humanity.” It is, in a dialectical sense, a negatively determinative moment in “the world’s transformation.” However, it must be recognized that “science is also a form of culture” and that “the world of science may also be said to be religious.” The failure to recognize this has been chiefly responsible for the fact that “such a thing as the decline and fall of the West has been proclaimed.”

kitaro-nishida-53-14-14.jpg

Dostoyevsky diagnosed the causes of this decline perspicaciously in Notes From Underground (1864), which is widely considered the first existentialist novel. It is a response to the situation of the Cartesian ego, which… is sadistically enmeshed in murderous machinery over which he takes himself to have no control. The underground man is crippled by his hyperconsciousness. He is unlike the common man of action insofar as he can trace all effects back to ever receding causes such that, for example, he is incapable of mistaking vengeance for justice, since the would-be target of a retributive act is not ultimately responsible for it. He is also unlike people who are cruel only out of stupidity, because he cannot even stop at the egoistic passions that they take to be primary causes. Under a more intensely rational scrutiny, comprehending these passions also dissolves them as any solid basis for action. The underground man challenges the claim that other materialistic rationalists make, to the effect that a person cannot but act in such a way as is to his advantage.

nishesp.jpgDostoevsky asks us to suppose that we were able to arrive at a formulation of the laws of nature, including biological and psychological laws, so precise that we could calculate, in every case, what a man will do by knowing what is at that moment to his advantage – not as an individual – but as an organism that microcosmically expresses the survivalist egoism of Nature. A man who became aware of this calculation would spitefully do something else, anything else, just to prove that he was not “a piano key” or an “organ pedal” whose thoughts and passions could in principle be encompassed by a formula, tabulated, and predicted according to statistical probability. Dostoevsky equates the sum total of any comprehensive formula for the laws of nature, of the kind that physicists today are still searching for under the rubric of a theory of everything, with “an endlessly recurring zero” because it nullifies meaningful action.

The underground man would act contrary to his advantage, he would humiliatingly sacrifice himself to others, to be beaten and brutalized, to be impoverished through impossible generosity, and in every other way to fail and suffer in life just so as to demonstrate that life “is not simply extracting square roots.” On the one hand, he knows that “two times two makes four”, in other words the laws of nature cannot be changed and so “there is nothing left for you to do or to understand.” On the other hand, he has a painful awareness that “Consciousness… is infinitely superior to two times two makes four.” The underground man decides that “if you stick to consciousness, even though you attain the same result, you can at least flog yourself at times, and that will, at any rate, liven you up. It may be reactionary, but corporal punishment is still better than nothing.”

If “natural science and mathematics” were able to prove to him that even this reaction were predictable in accordance with some “mathematical formula”, he “would purposely go mad in order to be rid of reason” and moreover, he would try to hurl the whole of the world into an abyss of “chaos and darkness and curses.” This is what the underground man is referring to when he admits:

The long and the short of it is, gentlemen, that it is better to do nothing! Better conscious inertia! And so hurrah for underground! …But after all, even now I am lying! I am lying because I know myself as surely as two times two makes four, that it is not at all underground that is better, but something different, quite different, for which I long but which I cannot find! Damn underground!

Nishida is in search of what the underground man could not find as a cure to the mechanistic materialism dominating science under the Cartesian paradigm, but what he believed that Dostoevsky himself did find – albeit in an overly Judeo-Christian form that would benefit from a deconstructive encounter with the abyssal void of Zen.

Consciousness always consists of both an extending out over oneself as one’s world and a determination of oneself by that world, so that ‘subjectivity’ and ‘objectivity’ are abstractions of a creative world-forming process that one can intuit in the abyssal or groundless inner depths of the self prior to the interpretation of it as an ego. Nishida thinks “discovery in the scientific domain exemplifies the same point”, namely “seeing by becoming things and hearing by becoming things.” Nishida goes so far as to proclaim the ontological priority of the religious form of life over both scientific practice and social mores: “Both science and morality have their basis in the religious form of life.” Nishida later repeats this point with respect to scientific practice: “Active intuition is fundamental even for science. Science itself is grounded in the fact that we see by becoming things and hear by becoming things. Active intuition refers to that standpoint which Dogen characterizes as achieving enlightenment ‘by all things advancing.’” According to Nishida, the religious form of life is more fundamental than scientific cognition and the knowledge gained by means of it; the quest for scientific knowledge is a mode of the essentially religious character of our existence:

I hold that even scientific cognition is grounded in this structure of spirituality. Scientific knowledge cannot be grounded in the standpoint of the merely abstract conscious self. As I have said in another place, it rather derives from the standpoint of the embodied self’s own self-awareness. And therefore, as a fundamental fact of human life, the religious form of life is not the exclusive possession of special individuals. The religious mind is present in everyone. One who does not notice this cannot be a philosopher.

Nishida proclaims that, “A new cultural direction has now to be sought. A new mankind must be born… a new global culture.” Although Nishida admits that “the new age must primarily be scientific”, he sees a radicalization of the immanent view of divinity in Dostoyevsky and Russian mysticism in general through an encounter with Japanese Buddhism as playing a key role in defining “the religion of the future.” Yet the Buddhism that contributes to the formation of the religion of the new age, the religion of the global culture, must transcend the racial character of the Japanese: “From the perspective of present-day global history, it will perhaps be Buddhism that contributes to the formation of the new historical age. But if it too is only the conventional Buddhism of bygone days, it will merely be a relic of the past. The universal religions, insofar as they are already crystallized, have distinctive features corresponding to the times and places of the races that formed them.” It is inevitable that our ethos reflects a national character, but “the nation does not save our souls.” A true nation or civilization must be based on a world religion, and not the other way around.

The has been an excerpt from “Kill A Buddha On The Way,” the tenth chapter of Prometheus and Atlas (Arktos, 2016).

Right On Radio: #8 – The Promethean Destiny of Man with Jason Reza Jorjani

PAjrj.jpg

Prometheus and Atlas

In Prometheus & Atlas, Dr. Jorjani endeavors to deconstruct the nihilistic materialism and rootless rationalism of the modern West by showing how it was grounded on a dishonest suppression of the spectral and why it has a parasitic relationship with Abrahamic religious fundamentalism. Rejecting the marginalization of ESP and psychokinesis as “paranormal,” Prometheus & Atlas […]

Price: $36.50

jeudi, 29 septembre 2016

East Asia: Greater Eurasia Scenarios

megzachurch.jpg

East Asia: Greater Eurasia Scenarios

Ex: http://www.katehon.com

The South Korean Megachurch Spreads Its Ideological Destabilization

South Korea has one of the world’s fastest-growing evangelical Christian populations and also boasts some of the world’s largest megachurches. In and of itself, this is a benign apolitical trend about its population’s beliefs, but integrated into a regional perspective rich with recent news events, then it becomes a worrying threat of destabilization. North Korea and China are well-known atheist societies, with the former having a lot less tolerance for any form of Christianity than the latter, but both are homes to secret foreign-connected Christian sects that are hell-bent on bringing down their governments. The Christian radicals haven’t yet begun resorting to ‘traditional terrorist’ tactics in doing this, but they’re nonetheless sometimes defined as terrorists depending upon the circumstances of their capture and whatever their prior activities are revealed to have been. 

South Korea figures prominently into this plot because it’s a nearby base for the type of aggressive anti-communist Christian proselytization that is undermining public trust in North Korea and China. Religion is being used as a rallying cry for bringing together different covert networks of believers in order to generate a critical mass of anti-government activists and future discontent. It’s not without reason that Beijing and Pyongyang are both so suspicious and reactionary towards secret Christian groups, as history shows that these organizations and their leading figures have regularly been used as a fifth column vanguard for earlier colonial campaigns in Africa and Asia. Nothing of that exact sort is going on in the present, but the principle is that illegal religious groups operating within China and North Korea – especially hostile proselytizing ones such as the Protestants and Evangelicals – are used as a ‘behind the gates’ force for secretly destabilizing the state from within. 

Most people aren’t aware of it, but China has a very bloody history of religious leaders and cultish demigods commanding legions of followers into war, and even though the exact same cookie-cutter approach is unlikely in the present day, the idea of malevolent actors assembling hidden networks of violent anti-state resistance under the guise of religion and god is a continual threat to China’s stability, no matter what the day and age may be. The documented history of religious and cult violence in China explains Beijing’s knee-jerk reaction to the aggressive promotion of Christianity, and seeing as how South Korea is now the Asian headquarters for this ideology, it can reasonably be assessed that this demographic trend within its borders can be – and likely already is to an extent – a weaponized element of Hybrid War against China and North Korea. 

thaad-info-web-page-high-ground-hr.jpg

THAAD Turns Northeast Asia Into A Tinderbox

The US’ preplanned move to exploit North Korea’s reactions to its military provocations has seen the deployment of the THAAD “anti-missile” system to South Korea, ostensibly to protect against Pyongyang but in reality to prepare for the future rolling out of a theater-wide system targeting Russia and China’s nuclear second-strike capabilities. As the most immediate and logical response, Russia and China said that they will begin working closer together on drafting coordinated countermeasures to this mutual threat, possibly even going as far as unveiling their own joint “anti-missile” system. What this has done is throw Northeast Asia into the forefront of the New Cold War between the unipolar and multipolar worlds and dramatically ratcheted up tensions in this corner of Eurasia. 

The developing alignments are Russia-China and US-South Korea, with Japan being an ally of both of the second group of countries but not yet fully coordinated into a trilateral framework with them. The historical memory of the World War II experience is still very much alive in this part of Asia, and the publics in both South Korea and Japan are usually at odds with one another over each side’s interpretation of these events and the role (both historical and in terms of how it should presently be atoned) of Japanese Imperialism. It’s possible, though, that the higher echelon politicians and “deep state” (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) in each of them don’t share the populist views prevalent in their societies and are being strongly pressured by the US to integrate into this tripartite system, using of course the media-marketed gimmick of coordinating their response to North Korea. 

This is a very dangerous triangle because the US is geographically insulated from the most direct consequences that it could lead to, thus making it behaving much more irresponsibly and with a touch of brinksmanship in forcing its occupied countries in the region to do its bidding, no matter how detrimental this is to their national interests. Part of what’s happening here is that the US also wants to provoke China into a rash response (as it has continually been trying to do with the South China Sea and the Indian border disputes) so that a ‘rational self-evident’ explanation can be given by the Seoul in ‘legitimizing’ why it’s working more closely with Japan and possibly even flirting with the TTP sometime in the future. Chinese-South Korean economic ties are very tight and mutually beneficial, but this is exactly what the US is trying to disrupt in a similarly adapted version to what it had attempted to do with Ukraine vis-à-vis Russia by forcing Kiev to undertake an unnecessary “civilizational choice”. Something very closely related to this is now afoot when it comes to South Korea and China, with THAAD being the equivalent for South Korea of what the EU Association Agreement was for Ukraine. 

On the one hand, for as negative of a trend as it is that Northeast Asia is aligning into two separate and easily discernible blocs, on the other hand it does carry with it a veneer of vintage ‘stability’ from the Cold War era of bipolarity, since a two-bloc system is taking shape in this part of the world. On the other hand, though, the unpredictable loose cannon of North Korea sits right in the middle of both, and not only could it ‘go rogue’ one way or another and shift the balance of power, but it could also implode (whether ‘naturally’ or through US provocations such as a military coup, large-scale successful economic warfare, and/or a distant Color Revolution). Two-bloc systems are only stable so long as there’s no black hole of uncertainty literally right between them, which is the role that North Korea is playing right now. If it can be reined in and safely managed, then North Korea could be a valuable asset to the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership in balancing against US-South Korea-Japan, but by all indications, this is a very difficult task and one which might not even be feasible at this point. Therefore, North Korea remains one of the most high-stakes uncertainties in the entire world, since whatever happens there will decisively shift the balance of power in Northeast Asia and drastically effect whether it’s the unipolar or multipolar world that comes out on top. 

korean reunification.jpg

Korean Reunification: Qui Bono?

One of the most popular scenario projections for international relations students to partake in is imagining under what circumstances North and South Korea could ever be reunited and what impact this would have on regional affairs. To simplify, there are three possibilities for how this could realistically happen and three related outcomes:

War:

North and South Korea go to total war with one another in which both are most likely destroyed. The ravaged battleground and remaining soldiers and mobilized civilians on each side become the backdrop to an intense US-Chinese proxy war, possibly even culminating in both side’s direct intervention into the fray just like during the First Korean War. 

“Peace”:

A military coup overthrows Kim Jong Un and quickly purges his institutional allies, leading to a sudden and swift reunification with South Korea, though one which has questionable longevity because of the surprising confusion that it elicits among regular indoctrinated North Koreans and their ‘un-cleansed’ military allies. 

Implosion:

A military coup, Color Revolution, or Hybrid War (each of which are closely interrelated) could transpire to throw the country into chaos, as well as a combination of independently occurring or related socio-economic and/or humanitarian collapses. These latter scenario projections are less likely to results in a nationwide implosion because of the country’s history of weather such intense crises during the 1990s, and also because China would assist with food provisions if need be. 

A reunified Korea would likely take one of the three following internal forms:

Destroyed:

The Korean Peninsula is a wasteland that must now be rebuilt, with China and the rest of the Multipolar Community partaking in reconstruction efforts in the north while the US and its unipolar allies do the same in the south. A UN-led government presides over the whole landmass, but the country is still de-facto partitioned just as it was on the eve of its de-jure international separation. 

Partitioned: 

Reunification never really happens in form and both Koreas continue to behave as independent units, no matter whatever political agreement they reach amongst themselves. This could happen if its destroyed or a military coup takes over and leads to an immediate breakthrough in relations between Pyongyang and Seoul. This format could be used to pacify ‘patriotic’ North Koreans who do not want immediate political reunification on South Korea’s terms but are amenable to a new form of partnership with their compatriots.  

Peaceful:

A united Korea becomes an even stronger economic powerhouse in Northeast Asia than the sum of either of its two previously independent parts could ever conceive of, with a “Korean Miracle” superceding even that of its post-Cold War German predecessor. Even if no US or South Korean troops cross the former DMZ, the newly reoriented North Korean military might direct itself against China, especially amidst an environment of American-provoked South China Sea-like hostility between the two entities (perhaps driven by the topic of ethnic Koreans in Manchuria). The ‘New Korea’ thus becomes a nuclear-equipped American ally in the heart of Northeast Asia. 

abe_cover_0428.jpg

The Rising Sun Returns

Prime Minister Abe is taking his country back along the path of militarism, and it’s obvious that the US intends to use his island nation as its “Lead From Behind” partner in Northeast and Southeast Asia. The recent reinterpretation of the constitution in order to allow the deployment of military assets abroad in ‘support’ of ‘allied countries’ is a dangerous sign that Tokyo is planning to play a much more assertive role all along the East Asian/Western Pacific Rimland region. It’s already been described how this is envisioned to play out in Southeast Asia, but as for its Northeastern equivalent, this will definitely see Japan flex its muscles as a naval power and continue provoking China in the East China Sea. 

It’s a little-known fact, but despite being an officially ‘pacifist’ country, Japan’s “self-defense forces” are equipped with state-of-the-art munitions and have access to high-tech assets that make them a formidable (albeit undeclared) military power, and the country’s nuclear energy industry produced enough waste that Tokyo could 1,000 nuclear bombs from it a year if the fateful were ever made. Even though this has yet to happen and might never actually occur, it’s unmistakable that Japan is a Great Power which must be taken seriously in all geopolitical calculations, and that the Land of the Rising Sun has finally returned to the forefront of continental affairs with the US’ full support. 

lundi, 05 septembre 2016

Russia and Japan: Necessary Rapprochement

photo_27559abe.jpg

Russia and Japan: Necessary Rapprochement

Ex: http://www.katehon.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks in the framework of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. The meeting precedes the Russian president’s upcoming visit to Japan, where the Japanese prime minister is preparing to meet Russia’s president in the “hereditary” Yamaguchi Prefecture from where he has continually been elected a member of parliament. Speaking at the forum, the Japanese prime minister urged Russia and Japan to seek compromise to solve the South Kuril Islands issue and conclude a peace agreement as soon as possible. 

Russia is ready to compromise with Japan

On the eve of the meeting with the Japanese leader, Vladimir Putin spoke on cooperation with Japan and negotiations on the status of the South Kuril Islands (Iturup, Shikotan, Kunashir and Habomai group of islands).

The president of Russia noted the need for signing a peace treaty with Japan. According to Putin, the issue of “northern territories” so painful for the Japanese side must also be solved in a consistent manner so that none of the parties feel like a loser. The main factor that could render moving forward possible, according to the Russian president, is expanding Russo-Japanese cooperation. The president said that compromise will be reached once the level of mutual trust between Japan and Russia is comparable to that observed between Russia and China. Putin expressed the same point of view in his speech at the forum. 

On the same note, the Russian president hinted that the resolution of border disputes with China, when the latter received a number of territories formerly controlled by the Soviet Union and then Russia, had been possible because China acted as an independent and friendly power for Russia. The real problem facing the resolution of territorial disputes between Japan, in Russia’s view, is Japan’s strategic cooperation with the United States and its de facto occupation by the Americans which has lasted since Japan’s defeat in World War II. Under these conditions, the transfer of the Kuril Islands to Japan would de facto mean transferring them to the US, Russia’s main geopolitical rival. 

US opposition

The Russian president referred to the Declaration of 1956 as a precedent which opened the way to a peace treaty. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed the Moscow Declaration that officially ended the war between the two countries. According to the document, the Soviet Union agreed to hand over the Shikotan and Habomai islands to Japan following a peace treaty’s conclusion. However, the contract was torpedoed by the US. They threatened not to return Okinawa to Japan and cease funding for the war-torn country if Japan compromise with Moscow. Tokyo thus eventually refused to sign a peace treaty. 

In 1960, after the Treaty on Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan was signed, the Soviet Union officially refused to consider the question of territorial concessions to Japan, as this would have led to the expansion of territory used by the main geopolitical enemy of Soviet Russia, the USA.

The Russian side has repeatedly stated its readiness to return to negotiations, starting precisely with this declaration. This in itself is a big concession to the Japanese. Moreover, the principle of “two islands first” in addition to nurturing economic and political relations between the two countries was put forth by Japanese diplomats themselves in the 1990’s. This was done by the so-called “Suzuki Group.” The basis of this group was the lower house deputy Muneo Suzuki and the senior foreign ministry official and expert on Russian foreign relations Masaru Sato. They recognized the need to develop closer relations with Russia. A new approach to territorial issues was worked out, but in 2001 Suzuki became too uncomfortable of a figure for the new leadership of the country, and was removed from power by means of a corruption scandal unleashed in 2002. Sato was arrested a few days before Suzuki on charges of abuse and misse of financial resources of the foreign ministry. 

Nevertheless, de facto, the group strategy and focus on multilateral cooperation between the two countries and the development of personal contact between the heads of states formed the basis for a new Japanese approach to problems with Russia. 

Japanese interests

Over the past several years, Japan has expressed interest in closer ties with Russia. Joining anti-Russian sanctions under US pressure provoked a negative reaction by Japanese businesses interested in cooperating with Russia, including in the defense industry sphere. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly, unofficially expressed interest in meeting with the Russian president despite the negative position of the United States in this respect.

Japan needs Russia from an economic point of view, especially as a transportation corridor to Europe that is alternative to the Chinese "Silk Road", as well as a military and political partner.

japrus58022_401,00.png

Japan is concerned about the rising military and political power of China and its claim to supremacy in the Pacific. China has in particular put forward territorial claims against the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands. From the Japanese point of view, the Chinese pretension to leadership in the region is dangerous and unfounded, and Japan is striving to resist such. Russia, as a state which is closely tied to China, can be viewed by the Japanese as a lever of pressure on the Celestial Empire. Russia may also act as an intermediary between the two countries if the need arises. Finally, the diversion of Russia’s resource potential from China to Japan reduces the potential power of China.

Japan also needs Russia to balance its relations with the United States. On the one hand, the government of Shinzo Abe, made up of right-wing conservatives, has passed an agreement on a military alliance with the United States and has adopted a law on collective self-defense expanding military cooperation with the USA and opening the way for increased presence of American troops in Japan. However, on the other hand, under the pretext of "aid to The US”, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces have been empowered and are now turning into a real armed forces threatening imminent review of the 9th article of the pacifist Constitution of Japan. 

In fact, the expansion of cooperation with the Americans is necessary for the current Prime Minister and the Japanese conservatives to implement large-scale domestic reforms where the main goal is changing the Constitution developed by the American occupation administration. 

So far, the Japanese right-wing establishment includes the influential “Nippon Kaigi” organization, involves the majority of Shinzo Abe’s cabinet who remained committed to an alliance with the US. But reforms desired by Japanese conservatives in the long run could put the alliance into question. The Constitution is supposed to be less liberal to address concerns about the spread of liberal values by the American occupants. Before her appointment as defense minister, Tomomi Inada advocated the creation of Japan’s own nuclear forces which would no longer necessitate “protection” by the United States. 

However, this is a case for the future, and the imbalance in the relationship in favor of the US side must be corrected immediately. A multi-vector policy, in principle, would create more space for maneuvering and bargaining even with allies. It is possible to bring forth the historical analogy of the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1902. Then, for the first time, Japan was closely drawn for 19 years into the sphere of influence of the Atlanticist powers. However, many Japanese politicians consider this treaty to be enslaving and more consistent with the UK’s interests, whose main goal was keeping Russia out of the Pacific. Karl Haushofer recalled: 

“'If the German and Japanese navies cooperate with the Russian land army, then the ocean agreement would cease to be highly biased towards England, and would become an equal contract,’ - such was the position of the far-sighted Japanese, with whom I spoke on this subject, and they obviously held this position much earlier. "

In light of this historical experience, Abe’s shift towards multi-vector policies and counterbalancing the alliance with the US by increasingly close relations with Russia is understandable. The establishment of a ministerial post for economic relations with Russia in his office needs to be understood in this light. While economic cooperation is not so large, some large-scale projects have been announced which are most important as a political signal that Japan should be closer to Russia. 

Russian interests

In geopolitical terms, Japan is the most coveted partner of Russia in the Far East. Despite its insular position, Japan is a classic continental power in terms of cultural values. This paradox was noticed by German geopoliticians in the first half of the 20th century. The leading German geopolitician Karl Haushofer even proposed the idea of a continental bloc along a “Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo” axis. Like China, Japan has serious economic and innovative potential which could contribute to the development of the Russian Far East.  At the same time, it does not pose any danger to the sparsely populated border regions of Russia from a demographic point of view.

After Japan's defeat in World War II the country was transformed into a power dependent on the US. US naval bases were spread on the country’s territories as part of the “Anaconda Belt,” i.e., the zone of American-Controlled states surrounding Russia from all sides. Japan’s escape from American control is thus a geopolitical priority for Russia in the Pacific. 

On the threshold of World War II, the German geopolitician Karl Haushofer on the threshold of World War II, even proposed the idea of ​​a continental bloc along the “Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo" axis. Haushofer correctly pointed out the British and Americans’ efforts to prevent the establishment of a Eurasian geopolitical alliance uniting Europe, Russia, and East Asia, as well as he noted the numerous attempts by the Germans, Russians, and Japanese to create such an alliance. In particular, he recalled the names of Count Witte, Japanese Prince Ito Hirobumi, who was several times prime minister of Japan in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Count Gotō Shinpei, a prominent Japanese statesman and diplomat of the early 20th century.

Conservative Union

A series of actions are now needed at both the level of state agencies and the public level of both countries to move this course forward. From Japan, Russia expects greater autonomy and the realization of economic projects which have been discussed for so long. 

Japan expects more tact in relations from Russia and an understanding of the political situation within the country. The usage of Soviet jingoistic myths and cliches of “Japanese militarism” are not acceptable. The question of amending the Constitution and acquiring a normal armed forces is an internal matter of Japan’s.

The sympathies of experts especially among the older generation of the Japanese left on protecting Article 9 of the Constitution are understandable, but this has little to do with the conservative orientation of today’s Russia. The 2016 elections to the upper house of the Japanese parliament following the adoption of a package of self-defense laws indicate only one thing: Abe’s course is supported by the majority of the population. 

Russia should be be able to understand Japanese conservatives and right-wing monarchists, including members of the influential Nippon Kaigi. And, of course, it should establish contact with them, as well as with the anti-American right-wing such as Issuy-Kai. Although this is a marginal group, it is quite strong and, under the conditions of global perturbations in the decline of US hegemony, the wave of history can raise enough of such forces up.

It should also be understood that among the Japanese right-wing there are many people with views similar to the American neoconservatives, such as the current president of Nippon Kaige, Tadae Takubo. It is unimportant for Russia whether the Japanese love us or not. What is important is that they be freed from US tutelage. 

samedi, 23 avril 2016

L'universo eroico di Yukio Mishima

tumblr_o5zjq6H1p41rnng97o1_500.jpg

Japan and Foreign Workers to Reach 1 Million: Europe, Capitalism, Islamists and Cultural Stability

usajap.jpg

Japan and Foreign Workers to Reach 1 Million: Europe, Capitalism, Islamists and Cultural Stability

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and capitalist corporations that support the loosening of foreign employment are at the bottom ladder of evolving into yet another cultural wipeout. Indeed, one only needs to visit major cities in Europe including Brussels and Paris to know that yesteryear seems like a distant dream. After all, issues related to crime, the breakdown of the social fabric in certain parts of these cities, the specter of terrorism, issues related to narcotics, and other important negative factors – all point to deterioration and increasingly divided areas. In other words, exclusive zones are in a short-distance of “no-go areas.” Therefore, it could well be that certain mega-capitalist corporations and sectors, along with the current leader of Japan, are on the crest of following an uncertain cultural and ethnic future based on the European disease that is dividing many nations.

If Japan needs to follow the multi-ethnic reality of certain European nations like Belgium, France, Holland, and the United Kingdom – then it is essential that cultural dimensions be taken into consideration. In other words, Japan should focus on immigration within mainly Buddhist and Confucius based societies in order to preserve the ethos of national identity, continuity, shared cultural values and preserving greater social order. After all, the streets of Brussels, London and Paris – and other major cities – are blighted by criminal factors, narcotics, terrorism and areas where the nation state is being superseded by fifth column Islamists who follow Saudi versions of Islam.

Not surprisingly, Brussels and Paris are not only blighted by recent terrorist attacks – just like Britain is blighted by the systematic rape of young white girls in various parts of this nation by mainly Muslim gangs from southeast-Asian backgrounds; but now some of the main individuals that are beheading Alawites, Christians, and Shia Muslims, also emanate from many parts of Europe. Yes, modern Europe is now exporting ISIS terrorists (Islamic State – IS) to nations including Iraq and Syria. Therefore, one can only imagine the future of certain European cities in fifty years and one hundred years time, given the demographic change that seems to be never ending. This notably applies to the Salafi and Takfiri fifth column that hates non-Muslims and Muslims alike but seems to be ever growing within the body politic of Sunni Islam based on Gulf petrodollars.

Of course, many ethnic groups and individuals have assimilated based on various factors including a shared civilization, individual openness, coming from faiths that support accommodation, non-religious backgrounds – and other important factors. Nothing is a monolith but equally to close your eyes to currently what is happening is also alarming because the future of cities including Brussels, London, Paris – and many others in Europe – face an uncertain future based on the policies of successive governments be they conservative, socialist, or liberal political parties. Indeed, some Jews in Marseilles are now scared to dress in religious clothes that draw attention to the faith they follow based on an Islamist agenda.

The BBC reports about the threat of Islamist extremism in parts of Marseilles by stating For all of Marseille’s 70,000 Jews, the question of whether or not to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel) is more and more acute. Everyone knows families who have gone.”

Turning back to Japan, then the same business and political arguments were made about the need for labor in several leading European nations. In time, multi-cultural policies in Europe were enacted based on diluting the indigenous culture and following the mantra of rampant secularization. The upshot being the erosion of Christianity, the demise of past cultural norms and a dual policy of supporting other faiths that support religious conservatism – while indoctrinating the indigenous community to accept a political correct version of society. However, the apologetic agenda, cultural defeatism, the mantra of multicultural values, the need to accept new gender-based ideas, the white flag of mainstream Christian churches – and so forth – is leading to vacuums, growing divisions within society, the breakdown of the family and a lack of identity among younger members of society. At the same time, more militant strands of Salafi Islam are growing within certain parts of Europe because the political correct, trendy left and cultural liberals appear to appease fifth columnists that seek firstly to destroy Muslim diversity and then to usurp the indigenous culture.

If Japan believes that modern Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, the United Kingdom – and others – are paths worth following, then clearly yet another nation is committing cultural suicide. Not only this, Japan must be ignoring all the uncertainties and divisions that blight modern European nations. Indeed, recent events in Brussels and Paris show that the Balkanization of societies is beginning to gather in pace – just like Jews being scared in cities like Marseilles. Therefore, if Japan does need to open up to immigration it is essential to focus on the majority of migrants hailing from Buddhist and Confucian-based societies, in order to preserve continuity, social order, and other important factors (Buddhism and Shintoism are especially important within Japanese culture – Japan is mainly secular). If not, then Abe and modern corporate capitalists will be remembered in Japanese history for creating endless problems for the indigenous community.

It is easy to scoff, but modern day terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris are a reality. Likewise, certain places of worship are now being protected in France. At the same time, no-go areas do exist based on high crime in many major cities irrespective of ethnic identity (family breakdown, lack of social cohesiveness and the destruction of old conservative values are creating new vacuums). Also, European nations are now exporting ISIS terrorists to several nations in the Middle East that behead minority Muslim sects for fun, while killing and enslaving non-Muslims. Therefore, Japan must weigh up many important things and learn from the indigenous alienated communities in Europe – while ignoring political correct elites who reside in leafy houses and far from the reality of what is happening in major parts of modern Europe.

Of course, Japan is currently far from being like Belgium, France, Holland, and the United Kingdom – and other nations like Sweden; yet, a slippery slope can soon spiral out of control. Indeed, mass immigration and the growing menace of Islamists who seek a parallel world, within various European nations, is creating great strains for Europe. Hence recent terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris – and increasing Salafi indoctrination that seeks to crush Muslim diversity. Only twenty years ago nobody envisaged the speed of change in parts of Europe and that parts of Brussels and Paris would be under strong surveillance because of terrorism. Given this reality, Japanese political leaders need to focus on shared cultural values in relation to immigration in order to safeguard society for future generations.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35445025

mtt

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

http://moderntokyotimes.com Modern Tokyo Times – International News and Japan News

https://moderntokyonews.com Modern Tokyo News – Tokyo News and International News

PLEASE JOIN ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/MTT_News Modern Tokyo Times

PLEASE JOIN ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/moderntokyotimes