Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Japanese Nationalism

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nationalism isn't an issue in Japan

Special to The Japan Times

As Japan renews its claim on Takeshima (Dokdo to Koreans) and prepares to mark the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of the Great East Asia War, we can expect more Asians — and some Americans — to warn against the dangers of rising Japanese nationalism. What is striking, however, is the absence of nationalism in Japan compared to its Chinese and Korean neighbors and its American ally.

Regardless of the metric used, Japan scores very low on nationalism. Its investment in its armed forces as a percentage of national income is small, especially for a country living in close range of two potential war zones (the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan).

Moreover, in the past two decades the offensive capabilities of North Korea against Japan, namely its ballistic missiles and nuclear program, have grown significantly.

China, another potential adversary for Japan, clearly has a much stronger military than 20 years ago. But Japan continues to keep its military investment at around 1 percent of national income (perhaps a little more if other expenses are included).

The phenomenal waste in Japanese procurement programs also shows that the military budget is as much a funding mechanism for Japanese businesses as a tool to build up a strong military.

Moreover, when it comes to dealing with the outside world, Japanese diplomats are as unlikely as those of the Holy See to resort to threats of force. There are no John Boltons in the Japanese Foreign Ministry. This peaceful, low profile reflects a basic fact often ignored by outsiders: Japanese voters favor candidates who care about bread and butter issues over those whose concern is Japan's greatness and military might.

The origins of this phenomenon are that Japan, unlike other players in the region, tests negative on risk factors for aggressive nationalism.

Nationalism often arises out of a sense of national victimization. A major cause of Chinese and Korean nationalism is a belief that foreigners preyed upon and humiliated their countries. As a result, many Chinese and Koreans want to see no insult to their national dignity go unpunished, however insignificant.

A case in point is South Korea's quixotic campaign to rename the Sea of Japan the East Sea. In Japan's case, however, there is no sense of victimhood. Yes, Japanese either experienced or know about U.S. terror bombings during the war. But, with a few exceptions, this pushes them toward pacifism. It fuels their contempt for the Japanese militarists who led the nation on a war that destroyed the country. It may also make them dislike the alliance with America, but it does not make Japanese long for a new Imperial Japan armed to the teeth ready to conquer lost territories.

Another foundation of nationalism is a belief that one's country has a destiny to lead the world, or at least its region. This helps explain the support of Americans for military intervention and the conquests of Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Though Chinese nationalism lacks the universalistic ambitions of America's, many Chinese think that history gave China a right to regional primacy.

In Japan, however, there is none of the messianic urge found in Western cultures. Nor do Japanese have the same sense of civilizational and historical greatness that is common in China.

There are also domestic factors that energize nationalism. One is fear for the country's territorial integrity and/or a belief that there are still unredeemed provinces. In the Chinese case, anxiety about Tibet, Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan), and Inner Mongolia fuel Han nationalism. Moreover, for most Chinese, Taiwan is a Chinese island that must be brought back into the motherland.

In the Korean case, national division can only encourage nationalism, even though South Koreans are lukewarm toward actual unification. Memories of Japanese aggression in both nations also generate a nationalist reaction in China and Korea. In Japan, however, there is no domestic separatism to be afraid of. And, despite the pro forma Japanese claims on the Northern Territories and Takeshima, few Japanese care about them.

A second domestic issue is nationalism as an alternative tool to confront the government. In autocratic China, nationalism is an indirect way to oppose the ruling party. When demonstrators throw rocks at the U.S. embassy or attack Japanese diplomats, they are also criticizing their rulers for being weak-kneed. Moreover, simply by marching through the streets, or gathering virtually on the Internet, they demonstrate to the Communist Party that the people can mobilize on their own.

Though South Korea is now a liberal democracy, many of its leftwing nationalists came of age when anti-American (or anti-Japanese) nationalism was fused with the fight against the military regime. Japan, however, has been a free society for well half a century, if its citizens are unhappy they simply go to a voting booth rather than seek alternative forms of mobilization.

Japanese society may have problems but nationalism is not one of them.
Robert Dujarric is director of the Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies at Temple University Japan in Tokyo

via Japan probe

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index Rankings
Global Peace Index Rankings

The table below provides the GPI rankings for the 140 countries analysed in 2008 and the 121 countries analysed in 2007, as well as year-on-year comparison. Countries most at peace are ranked first. A lower score indicates a more peaceful country. You can click on a country to see the detail of its peace indicators and drivers.

Global Peace Index 2008

* Compare
* 2007
* 2008

Iceland Iceland
Denmark Denmark
Norway Norway
New Zealand New Zealand
Japan Japan
Ireland Ireland

Monday, July 21, 2008

comfort women Sexual enslavement by Nazi Germany in World War II

Forced prostitution by the Nazi state for sexual gratification of German soldiers and members of other Nazi controlled organizations became prevalent in occupied Europe during World War II.[1] It is estimated that a minimum of 34,140 women from occupied states were forced to work as prostitutes during the Third Reich.[2] The brothels established by the Nazi state were for use by the soldiers of the Wehrmacht, SS officers, and foreign laborers working in the German Reich (including those working within the concentration camps).

The subject of forced prostitution and camp bordellos has remained largely taboo in studies of Nazism until recently, when the new publications by women researchers broke the silence. [3] [4]

Usually organized in hotels confiscated from their rightful owners, they also served travelling soldiers or those withdrawn from the front. Usually they also included a bar, a restaurant and a brothel. [5][6] In most cases, especially in the East, the women were forced to serve as prostitutes after being caught at random on the streets in Łapankas (Nazi German military kidnapping raids against civilians in Poland). [5] [6] [1] The authors of a 2004 German documentary on the victims of forced prostitution in Nazi Germany[1] estimate, that in 1942 alone there were over 500 such brothels for German soldiers all over Europe.[7][1] It is estimated that at least 34,140 women were forced to serve as prostitutes in Nazi brothels for soldiers, SS and Nazi officials, but also in similar institutions for slave laborers and privileged German concentration camp inmates[4] even though many more women remained silent about the experience after the end of the war.[2] According to a Gestapo report on one of such brothels located in Łódź in occupied Poland, there were roughly 4,000 visitors a month, including more than 3,000 soldiers of the Wehrmacht[8]

The hotels/brothels in question were known as German Soldier's Houses (German: Deutsches Soldatenhaus), DSH, or in German Militärbordelle or Wehrmachtsbordell.

Thomas Gaevert and Martin Hilbert, authors of a documentary called "Women as trophy" (made for ARD)[1] claim that Eastern European sex-slaves in the hands of German military were the most perfidious form of slave-labor of World War II. The revealing of the extent of their abuse is not always desirable, because many victims remain afraid of being wrongfully accused of collaboration with the occupier. [9]wiki

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Economic background

The rivalries between empires which lay behind much of the international conflict of the first j half of the 20th century drove forward many of the features of managed capitalism,・・・As international competition increased after industrial capitalism spread from Britain to other countries, free trade came to be eventually displaced by a protectionism that reached its peak in the 1930's . Markets could be protected, and the supply of cheap raw material maintained , by constructing empire and fencing it off from competitor nations.
page 45

By the middle of the 19th century Japan was a highly commercialized and entrepreneurial society but not yet an industrial one. After Meiji Restoration, Japan's 19th century revolution, industrialization was directed by the state as part of a programme to build a strong and independent country that could stand up to the the Western empires that were encroaching upon Japan. page 72

These empires took the form not only of colonial territories but also of spheres of influence that divided up areas of the world no under direct colonial control. While Europe first created overseas empires, the United States constructed its own less formal empire in the Pacific and Latin America, and in the last quarter of the 19th century Japan began to follow the European model and acquire its first overseas territories.
page 83

When domestic production faced a crisis, it was hard to resist the temptation to protect the national economy against foreign competition and as soon as action of this kind was taken by one country , others followed.・・・・・・the 19th century division of the world between competing empires provided the industrial societies both with an illusion of self-sufficiency and ready-made structures within which they could shelter. The result was culminate decline of world trade that made the depression worse.・・・・John Maynard Keynes argued that government could counteract tendencies towards depression by injecting demand into the economy, by borrowing and spending or lowering taxes. These 'Keynesian' policies began to make an impact in some countries in the later 1930's , though it was above all the huge state expenditure generated by the Second World War that hauled the global economy out of the depression.
page 113

Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction

The first, if limited, attempt to apply Keynes's ideas was undertaken in the USA during Roosevelt's New Deal'. However Roosevelt's commitment to a balanced budget and his consequent refusal to allow increased government spending on public works projects to exceed taxation revenues resulted in only a very gradual decline in unemployment. The Great Depression was in fact brought to an end by a widespread and substantial expansion of military spending in preparation for war, rather than a deliberate attempt to cure unemployment. page 64 Political Ideologies: An Introduction
Andrew Heywood