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April 19th, 2005

Japanese politicians are yet again preparing to make an official visit to Yasukuni Shrine, further fueling anger in China and other countries in the region. Outside of the diplomatic question of unnecessarily pissing off your close neighbors and, apparently, deliberately alienating yourself from other countries surrounding you, there is the question of whether they would accept similar actions from others.

What if, in America, there was a shrine which glorified the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as those who planned and carried out the atomic bombings and the many bombing raids on Japanese cities which killed so many civilians; and further, what if American presidents as well as numerous lawmakers, in an official government capacity, visited this shrine on a regular basis?

I find it difficult to believe that the same Japanese lawmakers would not respond in tremendous outrage. I also find it hard to see how their own actions are in any way different from such an analogy.

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  1. Tim Kane
    April 20th, 2005 at 01:48 | #1

    I find Japan’s actions in this regard unfathomable.

    I studied Japanese law in Law School under one of America’s preeminent scholars on Japanese law.

    More than any society, Japanese jurisprudence is heavily steeped in the jurisprudence of contrition in respect to criminal law. It is seen as one of the reasons for Japan’s remarkably low crime rate and strenuous efforts are being made all over the English Common Law world to find ways to duplicate it.

    Contrition involves admiting a wrongful act, regret at committing a wrongful act, acknowledging its wrongfulness and acknowledging the superiority and authority of the law.

    No society knows better than the Japanese the power of contrition. Yet they are still unwilling to admit the wrongfulness of the actions they took prior to World War II.

    The fact remains, a person who refuses to admit that he committed a wrong, is reserving for themselves the right to re-commit the wrongful act again in the future. That’s precisely what everyone fears. Its true for an individual. Its also true for a nation of individuals.

    By the way, we suffer from the same problem in the United States by Southerners who are unrepentent concerning the Civil War. They rather point out the wrongfulness of Northern aggression against the concept of and in violation to states rights. This intransigence is a source of southern biggotry and hatred and a source of radical politics coming out of the south manifested in George Bush, Neoconservatives and the Republican Party.

    Its also the reason why Roosevelt insisted on unconditional surrender in Germany during WWII. He wanted to make the consequences of their decision to choose far right wing reactionary Nazi politics so awfull so as to permanently alter the mindes of the German electrate in the aggregate. The consequences of the “stick” presented by fascist in the 1930s and 40s, and the “carrot” presented by Roosevelt and Truman in the 30s, 40s and 50s created modern first world international prosperity through out the first world. Every where that Roosevelts/Trumans armies marched/occupied is now social democratic. But the influence they had on Europe and East Asia they could not manifest in their own country, where they shared power with Republicans and Reactionary Southerners.

    As a result while Western Europe has become a social paradise, and Japan and South Korea nearly so, the United States is sinking into a Banana Republic. Perhaps Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomatix and his call for ending hostilities is not as fortuotous as it might seem. On the one hand, Lee’s behavior pretty much ensured that their would be no gurilla warfare east of the Mississippi, and only slight gurilla warefare west of it – a total warfare and total destruction, ala Germany in April 1945 and the misery that came with it might have permanently destroy southern intransigence. Like wise the surrender of Japan in August 1945 prior to U.S. invasion may have save far right wing reactionary politics their from the “dust bin” of history.

    Anyway, their actions are totally stupid. My South Korean friends see it as a possible benefit to their economy. Because most East Asian’s are weary of Japan and its intransigence, they will more likely go to South Korea for Goods and Services. They see that perhaps Seoul might become to East Asia what London is to Europe – a neutral, politically sensitive and responsible big financial services center. 25 years ago Japan was the only advanced nation in east asia. Not anymore.

    Right wing politics threatens to hurt international business interest in both Japan and the United States.

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