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Do you want to know where Japan is headed?

by tuasfait Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 01:32:57 AM EST

I found another proof that I am not a doomsayer. According to the Asahi newspaper (supposed to be liberal at the level of WaPo or NYT) released a sobering survey among Japanese today.

Q1. Do you know anything about the Far East International Military Tribunal (Tokyo Tribunal)?

Very well: 4%
A little: 23%
Heard of it but not sure what it was about: 53%
Never heard of it: 17%

Clearly, the rightwing's attempt to erase the history is working.
(more on the flip)


Q.2 Do you feel it odd that Class A war criminals are consecrated at the Yasukuni Shrine?

Yes: 31%
NO: 63%

The Shrine is dedicated to modern Japan's military adventures and those consecrated at the Shrine are given the status of a "god."

Q.3 Do you support or oppose Koizumi's official visit to the Shrine?

Support: 50%
Oppose: 31%
DK: 19%

The amazing thing is the number of revisionists is increasing. Those against the official visit were a little larger than those who support it by a non-scientific survey of a state TV channel several months ago. Is there any other country where revisionists are increasing? Where is Japan headed? Nowhere, I presume.

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I must admit that my knowledge of Japan is limited to Kurosawa movies, anime cartoons, two Japanese people I have known first-hand (my volleyball team coach and friend when I was in "classes prépa" -who by the way went to X like you, Jérôme- and my neighbour in London), a few westerners I know who have worked in or been to Japan, and my younger brother who is an amateur of all things Japanese (studied Japanese language and history, several martial arts ...). Basically little.

But what little I know, and stop me if I'm wrong, makes me believe that the question with the "do you feel it odd" bit about war criminals has more chances of being answered "no" in Japan than anywhere else, because contesting or questioning something that just IS, doesn't seem to be the Japanese national psyche. ie. "indignation" is not the first word I would attach to it (the national pysche). At the extreme opposite of France basically, in which people seem to feel indignation for every little thing in life, making it a national sport.

I mean to say by this that I don't believe that the 63% "no" answer to that question actually means that people are revisionists or in favour of war criminals. They just don't have a predisposition towards indignation. Ask them "do you find it odd that war criminals are cast out and that their crimes are enshrined for decades", and they will answer "no" too.

Am I far off the mark?

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 05:47:18 AM EST
You need to add Kitano movies to your repertoire: Sonatine, Hana-Bi (Flowers of Fire), Kikujiro (Kikijiro's Summer), Dolls...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 06:02:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is basically correct. We have a tendency to justify whatever there "is" and keep voting for ruling parties for over 100 years (the current one is an off-shot of Liberals of 1890s).

I had an encounter with a senior Japanese diplomat a year ago. He was outraged by the Chinese propaganda claiming 300,000 civilians killed in Nanking. "That is outrageous! Can you believe it?" I told him, "The Tokyo Tribunal found 'over 200,000 killed' in Nanking and its suburbs. Do you know that?" Incidentally, the gentleman lived and studied in France for a few years.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 09:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That diplomat gave in to indignation, but the wrong way around ;))

Yes the Nanking massacres always tend to be overlooked even by any westerner looking at WWII. The average westerner will only relate to Japan's role in WWII through movies ... using the Bridge on the River Kwai, Furyo with David Bowie, and what not to get a perspective on the alleged brutality of "Japan" during the war. But are there any blockbuster movies on Nanking? I think not just Japan but the West too has been silent on it.

I myself follow this pattern. I only know, for having stumbled upon by chance when I was a young teenager, the book "Empire of the Sun" (not the movie, which I haven't seen), an autobiographical book by SF writer JG Ballard who was abandoned/lost as a kid in Shanghai in 1941 and ended up in a Japanese concentration camp, and that is about as close as I ever got to a firsthand account of Japanese occupation in China, but even that's only through the eyes of a street kid (so is bound to be somewhat inaccurate, and anyhow doesn't focus on Japanese occupation but more on the end of a child's innocence).

On a sidenote, I only recently learned through my little brother that the whole mythos of "kamikaze" pilots was quite wrongly perceived too (ie. cockpits were often bolted shut, many were given mild sedatives etc ... we are far from the mythos of the raging fanatic devoted to his Emperor and Country, happily dying), so I wonder how much we all know about the war in the East anyways.

Now, to conclude my long comment, I'd say that there is a somewhat strong Nanking "denial" tendancy in the West too.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 09:56:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, since you mention David Bowie, did you know that Takeshi Kitano (mentioned upthread) and Ryuichi Sakamoto starred in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Sakamoto also wrote the score)?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 10:06:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's news to me!

ps: I haven't yet replied to your comment upthread on Kitano because I've been trying hard to remember the movies I've seen with him (without cheating and using Google) and can only come up with the recent Zatoichi, and another very sloooooow but very goooooood cop movie whose name I forgot.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 10:14:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have Zatoichi in the queue, waiting to watch it.

Any plot details about the cop movie? Should be Hana Bi [that's the one with the haunting paintings, done by Kitano himself]. All the others are about Yakuza, except for Violent Cop which doesn't match the description.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 10:23:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's that movie with a suicidal cop, a wheelchair and a cliff?
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 10:26:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 10:27:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I met Sakamoto once at a peace rally... decades ago. He was a calm, strange boy, but very smart-looking. (So was I, of course.)

I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 11:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as a sidenote (I just remembered this anecdote, you'll love it).

I did my "national service" after graduation, as back then it still existed. And I did mine abroad, as a civilian with a french administration. Before going abroad, all the people like me who were leaving for a civilian service abroad, were gathered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris for a briefing. During that meeting, we were first taught basic behaviour to have when abroad, because we represented France, we were the elite, and blablabla.

Then came in two guys from the French Secret Service (one internal, DST, the other external, DGSE). And they both gave this ridiculously theatrical speech about what to do and what not to do. The DST guy focused on day-to-day things: "DO NOT THROW IMPORTANT PAPERS IN THE OFFICE'S GARBAGE BIN, BECAUSE BEHIND A POTUGUESE CLEANING WOMAN LIES A POTENTIAL SPY" and also: "BEWARE THE JAPANESE, THEY ALL HAVE A CAMERA AND ARE NOT ALWAYS TOURISTS".

There is more I could tell you about this whole day at the Ministry, but these stereotypes are a good start.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 10:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting. Now I am no longer sure about the quality of the French intelligence which Frederick Forsyth elevated into a myth.

I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 11:38:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hehehe
But you know the whole thing was so theatrical that I think they had planned it this way on purpose. The DST guy for example, looked exactly like a street cop, talked rough (in fact as he walked in his said: "CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THE BACK? GOOD BECAUSE AT THE DST WE DON'T LIKE TO SPEAK INTO MICROPHONES" ... ps: I'm putting this uppercase as the guy was screaming all the time, and he stood up all along). while the DGSE guy waltzed in with a very smart looking suit, talked mysteriously and ambiguously, sitting cross-legged, sipping water calmly ... you could almost hear the James Bond music in the background.

The worst part was when they played a "find the camera game". We were in an amphitheater. They had placed a camera somewhere and all of us had to guess where it was (while staying in our seats).

To help us do this, they plugged in a TV that was showing the camera's footage. And of course, of all people, the camera was filming me (which is not so suprising as everyone else was wearing a suit and tie, while I was in casual wear and had died my hair orange, and was sitting next to this hippie-looking girl who had volunteered (!) to do her national service. nb: it was only compulsory for men. she was going to Morroco.)

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 11:53:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry I forgot to explain what I meant by "they had planned it this way". By showing a mean-talking son-of-a-bitch DST (internal affairs) guy, in contrast to this elegant, mysterious, DGSE (external affairs) guy, they were most probably eliciting sympathy for the foreign secret service.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 12:00:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
while I was in casual wear and had died my hair orange

You are my new hero.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 09:45:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I loved the Groland take on the Passion of the Christ, where the antisemitism is removed. Instead He is betrayed by the Blacks, the Chinese, and some Portuguese guest workers. (I'm sure I've forgotten a few groups.)

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu May 4th, 2006 at 12:17:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh I had forgotten about that one, it's excellent!!

A satire about a movie director who's offended by the anti-semitism in Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" and who decides to set things right with a new movie of his own.

In his movie we learn that Christ carried his own cross because the Blacks that were paid to do it, didn't, being lazy like most Blacks are. And it's not the Jews who betrayed Christ but the Chinese, who are generally malicious and cunning. Christ ended up half-naked on the cross because some Arabs stole his clothes, since most Arabs are thieves. Finally, Jesus was nailed on the cross by Portuguese workers, because when they're not masons, the Portuguese generally are carpenters.

Finally the director is preparing a sequel, "The Resurrection of Christ", in which we learn that Jesus left his tumb because he was tired of all the noise that a Roma campment nearby was making.

It can be watched here (in French however):
http://www.dailymotion.com/tag/groland/video/142876

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu May 4th, 2006 at 04:23:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot: the movie director explains that all the Jews did were sell Jesus his underpants, because Jews are very good when it comes to clothes and money.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu May 4th, 2006 at 04:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
all the Jews did was sell
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu May 4th, 2006 at 04:24:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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