Occidentalism
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“Japan rolls back pacifist pillars”

December 16th, 2006 . by Gerry-Bevers

 CNN: “Japan rolls back pacifist pillars”

The above title links to a CNN article that talks about Japan’s upgrading its Defense Agency to “a full ministry” for the first time since World War II. It also talks about a new Japanese education measure that calls on schools “to cultivate an attitude that respects tradition and culture, that loves nation and home country.”

Is the education measure really such a big deal? Don’t the education systems in the US and other countries essentially teach the same things? Also, upgrading the Defense Agency to a full ministry means that Japan will be putting about the same about of emphasis on its defense as almost every other country in the world. What is wrong with that? I think the critics of the measures are letting their imaginations get the better of them.


14 Responses to ““Japan rolls back pacifist pillars””

  1. comment number 1 by: tomato

    Until recently, the Japanese believed that everyone in the world was fed up with war, and would follow Japan’s pacifist ways. All Japan had to do, they believed, was to de-militarize, teach international torelance and denounce nationalism. So it went.

    All the while, especially the surrounding countries, were nurturing nationalism and creating grandiose myths about how their countries were built. Myths will eventually be denied by virtue of their falsehood, but not without lots of turmoil and yes- violence. Yes, Japan lost her national pride and confidence after WWII, but at least Japan did not create any nation-buliding myths. That was good.

  2. comment number 2 by: ponta

    Until recently, the Japanese believed that everyone in the world was fed up with war, and would follow Japan’s pacifist ways. All Japan had to do, they believed, was to demilitarize, teach international torelance and denounce nationalism.

    How true!
    Many Japanese believed that Gandhi-ism is right. So what will you do when someone invaded Japan?, one girl answered, “I ‘ll be killed that is okay.”
    Another intellectual argue seriously that if Japan demilitarized, there is no point for other nations to attack Japan, so let’s demilitarized. This is Japanese which China and the media sometimes blame for the rise of militarism in Japan.

    The leftist and the allergy to military is too strong; if you talk about national security, you are rightist and wrong. If you talk about going nuclear, you are
    insane.

    So the article about Japan should be read against this background.

    As for the education on patriotism, I don’t think it is necessary. I was educated by the leftist teachers who oppose to raising the national flag, singing the national anthem, the emperor system. But I am still a patriot..

  3. comment number 3 by: sqz

    日本語だけですが、教育基本法案関連文書はここです。
    The documents about Fundamental Law of Education plan

    翻訳に自信がありませが、該当部分だけでもやってみます。
    I am not confident of translation. I will try a pertinence part.

    第二条(教育の目的)
    五.伝統と文化を尊重し、それらをはぐくんできた我が国と郷土を愛するとともに、他国を尊重し、国際社会の平和と発展に寄与する態度を養うこと。

    Article 2 (A purpose of education)
    5. In deference to tradition and culture, love our country that brought them up and the native district, and in deference to other countries, feed a manner to contribute to peace and development of the global community.

    これの何処が問題なのか、僕にはサッパリわかりません。
    I do not understand where it is a problem.

  4. comment number 4 by: James

    Will they make Japanese students stand up and recite a pledge of allegiance to the hi no maru every morning?

  5. comment number 5 by: shadkt

    James,

    Will they make Japanese students stand up and recite a pledge of allegiance to the hi no maru every morning?

    Is that wrong?
    Americans consider it a patriotic act.

  6. comment number 6 by: empraptor

    A US news site that’s skeptical about Japanese policy to increase military spending and nationalism in students shouldn’t be surprising.

    That said, I don’t see why Japan shouldn’t have a military force able to defend itself.

    Education policies to require patriotism – I don’t think it should be part of any education. I personally wouldn’t want my kids to be required to pledge allegiance to their country at school. Citizens do not exist to serve nations. It’s the other way around.

  7. comment number 7 by: Travolta

    I know a very close friend who works for a public school in Japan. He told me that the teachers there don’t like the new law and they said they probably won’t teach any of the new love the of country jive or at most skim over it and not focus on it. I don’t think its a big deal.

    I would like to see Japan stay pacifist because even though no one else seems to be following suit, someone has to step up and be an example to everyone else.

  8. comment number 8 by: empraptor

    Being a pacifist nation is good in theory, but how long will a policy like that last if Japan were under attack? Its allies could help, but that implies existence of militarily prepared allies. Obviously, not all countries can practice pacifism to this degree.

    With US military so busy these days, I think Japan might be better off with bigger force to ensure its safety. If not for this, I would think there was no reason trying to fix something that’s not broken.

    With regard to the patriotism in schools – if a policy is bad, maybe it shouldn’t be implemented at all, rather than being complacent about it because the teachers of today won’t enforce it.

    I see the patriotism policy as the bigger news.

  9. comment number 9 by: ponta

    I know a very close friend who works for a public school in Japan. He told me that the teachers there don’t like the new law

    I don’t think it is right to force the teacher to sing a national anthem;it might
    violate the freedom of thought , and forcing it make a journalist like Onishi use it to attack Japan, to defend North Korea, saying it is symptom of Japan’s rise of a strong nationalism.

    But I think many of teachers went too far.

    They think singing a national anthem, raising a national flag is a symbol of militarism. For them paying a respect to a national flag , singing a national anthem is militarism or something like that for some reason.. (there are some explanation; a national anthem praise the emperor, but they don’t like it, blahblahblah).

    To me, It is just a song of Japan it is just a flag of Japan. it is a symbol of Japan,and nothing more. I don’t understand why they are upset.

    As for the patriorism. I think making a good family, a good classmate, a good community will bring the student patriotism without teaching it in the classroom.

    I would like to see Japan stay pacifist

    Me too, but pacifism as defined right now in Japan , if applied strictly, does not allow Japan to corporate with UN troop, does not allow Japan to shoot down the missiles from China, North Korea flying toward the US, Australia. because it is not self-defence, so it is argued. I think Japan needs to relax the interpretation of pacifist a little bit so that it can contribute to the world peace.

  10. comment number 10 by: Calagatha

    I would like to see Japan stay pacifist because even though no one else seems to be following suit, someone has to step up and be an example to everyone else.

    While I agree with the sentiment, the question that I ask is… does anybody really care?
    See the problem is there’s so much propaganda & negative attention towards Japan that most uniformed individuals don’t even realize or acknowledge that Japan is pacifist in the first place.
    Most Chinese & Korean nationals, plus an asortment of Asian Americans do not notice or want to believe that the current Japan is pacifist.
    Rather, more often than not they still admantly believe that Japan is fascist.

    A lot of Chinese Americans think that the Japanese harbour strong feelings of hatred toward them.
    I usually tell people that most Japanese are apathetic & in general
    they do not really pay attention to you if you are non Japanese regardless of your origins.
    This usually comes off the wrong way though.
    From my personal observation it seems that no matter what, some groups of people just want to paint the picture of Japan as an “evil entity”…
    regardless of the reality of the assessment.

    Personally I think it’s about time that Japan drop it’s pacifist stance.
    The main reason why they have so much geo/social polictical trouble amongst the Asia/Japan dichtomy is because Japan thought they could just ignore the threat & it would go away.
    Unfortunately the situation only grew worse.
    They now have indviduals from asia as well as some indivduals from every english speaking country who believe that Japan is still some
    “evil force”
    simply because of all the propaganda floating around the net & word of mouth that Japan did not bother to quell.
    Sure ignoring the accusations would lead most people to believe that the accusations are untrue, but sadly that logic is lost amongst most individuals these days.

    Than again Japan actually acknowledging & taking action against countries such as North Korea would only make them look worse amongst the asian hemisphere.
    Damn I’m confused now…

  11. comment number 11 by: shadkt

    Calagatha,

    From my personal observation it seems that no matter what, some groups of people just want to paint the picture of Japan as an “evil entity”…
    regardless of the reality of the assessment.

    Yeah, I know what you mean.
    These people aren’t satisfied even with the Tokyo Trial outcome.
    Considering that it was very one-sided judgement, I thought they would be pleased with it, but no, they need more.
    I really don’t know what they want Japan to do.
    Accept any crime that’s called her way and just slobber apologies for eternity?

    I wonder if Japan didn’t emerge as the second largest economy, if Japan was like the 10th economy, things would have been better?

  12. comment number 12 by: sqz

    ponta wrote:

    I don’t think it is right to force the teacher to sing a national anthem;it might
    violate the freedom of thought , and forcing it make a journalist like Onishi use it to attack Japan, to defend North Korea, saying it is symptom of Japan’s rise of a strong nationalism.

    教育基本法には、愛国心を教えるよう強制するなどとは書いてありません。
    It is not written in the Fundamental Law of Education that to force the teacher to teach patriotism.
    しかし、国旗掲揚や国歌斉唱については、規律よりも思想の自由を優先してよいとは思いません。
    However, about national flag raising and national anthem unison, I do not think that it is good to choose freedom of thought than rules.
    国旗掲揚や国歌斉唱は、自国や他国を尊重するという礼儀のひとつです。
    National flag raising and national anthem unison are one of the courtesy to respect an own country and other countries.
    無礼な人間が、ルールやマナーやエチケットを教えることが出来るとは思えません。
    I does not think that the rude fellow can teach the rules and the manner and etiquette.
    例えば、オリンピックでの国旗掲揚で、そっぽを向いてガムをクチャクチャやってたら、恥しくて眼もあてられません。
    For example: at national flag raising of other country on the Olympics, Japanese who was taught it by a rude teacher is looking the other way, and he is chewing gum with noise, then it is shame of Japan.
    他国の人達はそれを見て、「日本人はなんて礼儀知らずなんだ!」というでしょう。
    People of other countries watch it and will say that “How rude Japanese is!”.

    評判を下げるのは一瞬でいいが、取りもどすのには長い時間が必要です。
    It is easy to lower reputation, but it take long time to achieve reputation.
    規律よりも思想の自由を優先したい教師は、教師を辞めてください。
    If a teacher want to choose freedom of thought than rules, please resign as a teacher.

  13. comment number 13 by: tomato

    Calagatha

    See the problem is there’s so much propaganda & negative attention towards Japan that most uniformed individuals don’t even realize or acknowledge that Japan is pacifist in the first place.

    Good point. I agree with you.

    sqz:

    If a teacher want to choose freedom of thought than rules, please resign as a teacher.

    I think the problem with defiant teachers is that they are in fact obstructing the free choices of children. But the same could be said if the board of education makes children be patriotic. Can’t figure out which is right/better. But I do believe the kind of nationalist education going on in China, N and S Korea is crude and backwardy.

  14. comment number 14 by: ponta

    sqz

    As i said, i don’t understand why the teachers are upset about the flag etc, but
    In principle constitutional right surpass any regular law. I am not sure how the supreme court will judge, but I think it is plausible that there are a few teachers who reject ,say, standing up in front of the flag, singing the national anthem; for, It does not follow that they have right to oppress the school, or the student to raise the national flag, and sing the national anthem.