Japan is returning to nationalism?


Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi

  When I knew that Tokyo will receive the next summer olympic games in 2020, that made me  relieved but at same time apprehensive. Relieved because I’m sure japanese people will do everything to organize a wonderful games, like it happened in 1964 and apprehensive because with this conservative and nationalist government, I ask if they will not use those games to political purposes and propaganda as happened already before (Berlin/1936, Moscow/1980, Pekin/2008). In fact since Shinzo Abe had become prime-minister, the japanese government is following a path of returning, making remember the times of imperialist Japan. Times that brought so many destruction to their neighbors and Japan itself. Times that the world thought already finished but that are now reviving and not only in Japan. See the return of far-right nationalism in Europe for example. But what path is this, symbolized by a revival of nationalism? Is a wish to change one of the most pacifist Constitutions of the world with more enfasis on military defense according to a revisionist view on Japan’s history. In fact, Shinzo Abe is member of the revisionist movement Nippon Kaigi that is the highest extremist right-wing movement in Japan and has some objectives like support the return to imperialist Japan, a political power more dependent of a religious ideology, change the postwar national consciousness based on the Tokyo tribunal’s views on history and revise the Constitution, principally the article 9 that not allow a standing army. Also supports prime ministers’ official visits to Yasukini Shrine (a temple that pay tribute to japanese soldiers that died in service of the empire including some war criminals of the 2 world war) and fight against feminism, LGBT rights and the 1999 gender equality law. 

   Shinzo abe use frequently a double speech for example when he supports a approaching with USA concerning a joining defense of the country towards some neighbours (China and North Korea) and at same time criticizes the constitution saying it is a act of contrition of the defeated army to the winners. Also to him, this constitution must be changed for a more japanese one instead of the actual more dependent on foreigners hands. Another example is his promise of respect China and South Korea wishes of don’t pay visit to Yasukini Shrine because is a place where precisely are buried some soldiers that committed crimes in that countries and at same time during his terms as prime minister is already visited it. He also defends a new japanese vision on world war saying that the country was condemned only by the eyes of winners and so for him that is an unfair appreciation. Despite that in the 70’s anniversary he decided to follow previous governments’ position on Japan’s wartime past and included the statements of “apology”, “colonization”, “aggression” and remorseful regret to the sufferings affected during the war. 

     One of the most controversial positions on this war re-appreciation is the denial on recognize the existence of sex slaves of chinese and korean nationality used by japanese soldiers which as already provoked some disappointment on China and Koreas governments. 

    In the new government there is also a important revisionist minister called Tomomi Inada. For her the Japan’s national integrity and sovereignty are continually threatened by external influences and this mainly after II world war. In her opinion this must change and Japan must quit that influence. She also refuse to recognize the existence of comfort women and the Nankim massacre. 

 As is easy to see, Japan is being governed by a nationalist political party with a strong religious view. Of course we can say Japan is always a democracy and in fact, despite some provocative cases, that are no evidences on a radicalization of the country. But this nationalist vision of the history is one more threat to the stability of the region and the world. Using a double speech, Shinzo Abe is trying to satisfy his political party and same believing supporters and at same time tranquilize foreigner countries. Knowing he is member of a radical nationalist movement can we say that Japan is under the threat to see the end of democracy in the future? I only hope that this muscular japanese position towards some neighbors and the insistence on a nationalistic view of the history don’t bring more problems in a time where the world look to be invaded by a fascist closing sight of it.                                                                                                                                      



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