A Brief Primer on Japanese Politics

 

Tokyo skylineThere’s a deep sense of disillusionment and malaise here in Japan. Perhaps, rather than sleeping through politics, the country is just ignoring it. Remember the 80s, when this country was going to take over the world? Many people (including me) spent that decade learning Japanese in school, preparing for a future when we’d need language skills to impress our bosses.

As it happened, I did need it. But that’s just me. For the rest of the Western world, the takeover got lost in two decades of Japanese economic recession and general stagnation. The economy has been so sluggish — and for so long — that it’s hardly even a political issue any more. Successive governments have pulled so many levers, pumped so much new currency into the economy, that it’s like watching one of those movie scenes where a character continues to perform violent CPR on some lifeless unfortunate, with ever more desperation, while everyone stands around pitying them.

What Happened?

A large proportion of the Japanese public has disengaged from politics. The population, however, gets ever-older and ever-closer to the inevitable explosion of its social security time bomb. Japan already has the grayest demographics in the world (26% over the age of 65, as opposed to 14% in the US). Seen mainly in the waiting rooms of government hospitals, that elderly population also has most of the savings and the heaviest political clout, and shut out the voices of the remaining young people, leaving even forty-somethings with little hope of ever collecting a retirement fund.

At one point, a government agency simply lost most of the country’s pension records, leaving the system with no way of knowing who’d contributed or not. A brief outrage occurred, a government fell, and was duly returned a few years later after the next government proved even less competent.

There’s a sense, similar to that among voters in Western countries, that the political system is opaque and that the average man cannot influence the decision-making process. There’s an air of helplessness and despair at it all (sound familiar?)

But there are no mavericks in Japan, no rebels lining up to take down the system. Those that do appear seem to disappear just as fast. The system, as rotten as it is, seems rock-solid, and it doesn’t include you. It might not be that people lost interest, but that they never had it in the first place. Participatory democracy has never been big in Japan; people are used to having their rulers tell them what to do, and obeying.

The Political Playground

Since 2005, Japan has had eight prime ministers, including two non-consecutive terms from Shinzō Abe. Most were removed by their own parties over insignificant disputes, without much regard for public opinion. Few can name all eight of them today. In that time, the governing party has changed twice (which is actually an improvement, given the same party has been in power for all except three years since the Second War War).

And that’s just how hopeless politics looks to the Japanese. Foreign residents are even more detached from the political process due to cultural and language barriers, and a sense that one shouldn’t interfere in the politics of an adopted country, especially if your residency visa might be affected.

The local media — while not operating at Chinese levels of sycophancy — is still held captive. Criticize politicians too much and journalists get shut out of press conferences and events, denied the access they need to do their job. The media has been further muzzled by a new State Secrecy Law, introduced last December, which makes it easier to imprison whistleblowers and arrest journalists for divulging anything determined to be a “special state secret.” The exact process for deciding what constitutes a secret, of course, is unknown.

(As an aside, if you’re looking for a great read about “real” politics in Japan – how the yakuza pervades every level of business and government and how it’s all the result of the US occupation, you must read Tokyo Underworld by Robert Whiting. Great book, if a little depressing.)

Getting Them Out on the Streets

There are, however, two issues that get the Japanese public steamed up: nuclear power and national defense. It’s been over four years since the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which was part of the wider tsunami disaster that killed over 15,000 in the region. But although no one died as a result of the nuclear accident itself, there’s a deep mistrust of the authorities over the seriousness of the problem, and strong opposition to firing up the country’s dormant nuclear plants again.

The government, on the other hand, says the country’s energy needs can only be met with nuclear power and has begun restarting facilities. The result is street protests, still going strong since 2011. Progress of the cleanup at Fukushima is, unsurprisingly, a secret.

Nuclear demonstration in Tokyo [courtesy Sigenari Honda on Flickr]

National defense is just as tricky. Under the post-war Japanese constitution imposed by General MacArthur and the US Occupation Forces in the 1940s, Japan was — and supposedly still is — prohibited from having a military in exchange for promises of protection by the United States.

Those stipulations have been interpreted more creatively in the years since the Americans left. Japan now has one of the world’s best-equipped militaries under the guise of its “Self-Defense Forces,” which have been deemed legally permissable so long as they don’t fight outside Japan. Japan sent a token peacekeeping force to Iraq — a massively controversial move locally — but they weren’t armed.

The current government is seeking to change this too, re-interpreting “self-defense” to include anything that might help Japan’s allies overseas. The US, having changed its stance since the war, wants to see Japan taking a more active role as a military power in the region.

Cue more street protests, usually on a weekly basis around the parliament buildings. Then there’s the street protests down in Okinawa, where the locals want remaining US forces out altogether. The issue is a no-win for the powers that be, and it’s a raging fire in the country; in one case, when a protestor self-immolated to show his opposition to the changes, quite literally so. Other protestors are only slightly less passionate.

Patriotism and militarism are seen as great evils by the wider Japanese left, having led the country to a self-inflicted cataclysm in the 1930s and 40s. They think it can happen again.

Election campaign poster faces, Tokyo

The Sleepy Part

Demonstrations, loudspeakers, and the occasional extreme act are just a sideshow, though. Most of the Japanese public are too busy working till midnight or shopping to care about what goes on in the Diet.

For the majority of us, the only time we encounter politics is just before elections, when candidates drive around the neighborhood in vans with loudspeakers on top. Advertising in the media is banned during campaigns, leaving shouting on the streets the only option. Anyone who wakes me up with a loudhailer at 9 AM on a Sunday would automatically lose my vote, but then I’m a foreigner who can’t vote anyway, and no-one else seems to mind.

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Very interesting. Thank you.

    The United States probably made some mistakes in its effort to help Japan get back on its feet after World War II, but given the chaos of the time period, it’s understandable.

    It is a beautiful country with intelligent people and fascinating culture.

    • #1
  2. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Thanks for the insight!  Not only interesting but makes our situation seem somewhat better by comparison.  :)

    • #2
  3. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Lived there and worked with the government at a very high level,

    Japan went quickly through the developmental stages from a

    1. Rice society (level, social structure working hard to plant, irrigate, maintain, tend to 2-3 rice harvests per year). A commune, gerontocracy.

    to

    2. Industrial society. Compulsive and compelling. Autocracy.

    to

    3.Urban society. Technocracy.

    Japan passed through the bourgeoisie period of independent farmers or shop keepers after industrialization was imported and urbanization well underway. There is no strong tradition of rugged, individualism. Even their martial arts are devoted to rules, ceremony and tradition – obedience. The governmental system of democracy was imposed upon them. Most would probably defer to a group of wisemen running things under some code of honor with an occassional hari kari when a mistake was made. The Japanese culture feels most comfortable when a politician is laid low. (Note politicans laid low is fine, but not a Daiymo or important province or clan leader or high formal official as it might imply social upheaval.) Ceremonial, political or social suicide/humiliation confirm equality and the village’s interest dominant over the interest of the individual. Japan believes when the stakes are high for politicians and bureaucrats, they will put the village first. This is not borne out.

    The society’s motto should be, “The nail that stands up, gets pounded down.” They also see themselves in the context of the metaphor, “The wall surrounding the emperor’s palace is strong, but no one stone is important.”

    Thus, it is a compliant society given to strong consensus and little independent expression. It is not unusual for votes to be 80% to 20%. Dissension is not honored. When it does occur in politics, it is often paid demonstrators who convey a sense of emotional catharsis – actors. The society tends to subdue, resign, and internalize itself.

    Tradition also seeps into the way represenation is allocated in the national legistlature. Rural, agricultural districts have much more power relative to the urban centers where the population is concentrated.

    Japan, like China, was once unstoppable. Then, it became constrained by its own limitations. The economics of Japan are very obedient due to the fact it is based upon a formally educated labor pool living off poor land, and few resources. This makes conformity and compliance essential. The problems of economic growth, making tough decisions, and caring for an aging society are just too overwhelming, especially for a nation living in the shadow of China. So they rarely have outbursts of frustration, and instead just adapt to what has to be the desultory prospects for a nation truly in decline.

    PS. I realized I have walked the street in the photo you display many times. Note the Timberland shop and Brooks Brothers logo in the background.

    • #3
  4. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    I appreciate this post.  I wonder, do you think the low birth rate is a result of the sense of hopelessness?  Are there any efforts to turn this around through education, tax incentives and the like?

    • #4
  5. V the K Member
    V the K
    @VtheK

    When Obama pushed his Stimulus back in 2008, I argued, “Why is the US pursuing the same policies of massive, debt-financed infrastructure projects that failed to reignite the Japanese economy and mired it in recession for over a decade?”

    I was so naïve. I actually thought the Stimulus was going to be spent in infrastructure. Instead, it all got blown on unionized government bureaucrats, boondoggle green energy projects, community organizers, performance art, and teaching African men to wash their peepees.

    • #5
  6. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Merina Smith: do you think the low birth rate is a result of the sense of hopelessness

    As Kramer would say, “ka-ching.” Merina you are right on.

    The birth rate is down because income relative to the cost of living is stagnant to slightly declining.  For the generation that watched Japan’s growth slip and stall, it is devastating, and the generation after, neutering.  Birth rates are low because marriage rates are low.  Once married, cost and the inconvenience of three people takes over.

    One of the things my colleagues point out is how this is creeping into American youth.

    Go to a college campus and look at the freshman.  Young, yes.  But the appearance and attitude makes them seem too conforming, tractible – to the point where they avoid challenge (micro-aggression).  Their challenges are with key boards and not hammering boards.  Food, culture, and information is fed to them and they feed back what is required, then move on.

    They bring an attitude of: what must I learn, when must I learn it, and how must I feed it back.  The process of analysis and questioning is lost in the chase for getting to the next step.

    Many are smart – but not brilliant.  Many merit, but do not strive.  I keep telling myself it is me.  But I saw this in Japan, I saw this creep into Italy, I saw this enter  France, and I recognize this.

    This is affecting family formation and culture here.

    • #6
  7. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    James Madison:

    Merina Smith: do you think the low birth rate is a result of the sense of hopelessness

    As Kramer would say, “ka-ching.” Merina you are right on.

    The birth rate is down because income relative to the cost of living is stagnant to slightly declining. For the generation that watched Japan’s growth slip and stall, it is devastating, and the generation after, chastising. Birth rates are low because marriage rates are low. Once married, cost and the inconvenience of three people takes over. Trading off for less, takes over.

    One of the things my colleagues point out is how this is creeping into American youth.

    Go to a college campus and look at the freshman. Young, yes. But the appearance and attitude displays a certain sense of conformity or lassitude. Their challenges are with key boards and not hammering boards. Food, culture, and information is fed to them and they feed back what is required to move on.

    They are – not all, but many – a cross between lassitude and conformity. They bring an attitude of: what must I learn, when must I learn it, and how must I feed it back. The process of analysis and questioning is lost in the chase for getting to the next step.

    Many are smart – but not brilliant. Many merit, but do not strive. I keep telling myself it is me. But I saw this in Japan, I saw this creep into Italy, I saw this enter France, and I recognize this.

    The lack of intellectual curiosity encouraged by trigger warnings and political correctness run amok contributes mightily to the problem I daresay.

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Apparently, the biggest buyers of Manhattan property in the last year have been Canadian institutional investors.

    One of the biggest investors has been the Canada Pension Plan (unlike Social Security in the US, the CPP invests in the markets).

    That’s right, the Canadian government is buying up Manhattan!

    SnidelyWhiplash-219x300

    Mwahahahahahah!!!

    (Other big players are public sector union pension boards. “The ironing is delicious.”)

    Source: http://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2015/09/29/how-canadian-investors-are-taking-over-manhattan.html

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Merina Smith:I wonder, do you think the low birth rate is a result of the sense of hopelessness?

    Chicken vs. Egg.

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    jonsouth: Patriotism and militarism are seen as great evils by the wider Japanese left, having led the country to a self-inflicted cataclysm in the 1930s and 40s.

    Patriotism didn’t cause the cataclysm. Imperialism and expansionism did. There’s a difference.

    • #10
  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    James Madison:Go to a college campus and look at the freshman. Young, yes. But the appearance and attitude makes them seem too conforming, tractible…

    They bring an attitude of: what must I learn, when must I learn it, and how must I feed it back. The process of analysis and questioning is lost in the chase for getting to the next step.

    So they are too deferential to their elders’ expectations? Not oppositional enough? More concerned with satisfying expectations than with striving for what the heart really wants?

    I began as a defiant striver, but eventually decided the cost was rarely worth it – especially the cost in family tension. To not fulfill your elders’ expectations is “selfish”. Even when it doesn’t feel selfish. And the elders have a point. Why not go out of your way to satisfy your elders, especially when it costs you little, but even sometimes when it costs you a lot. Now, I am just barely young enough to count as “Millennial”, and from what I can tell, I grew up in a family structure more hierarchical than most of my peers. I honestly would not expect Millennials from less rigid families to be so into passively accepting authority simply for the sake of keeping the peace.

    But there is something deeply conservative about getting the young to accept the yoke, to fulfill expectations without questioning them, simply on the grounds that fulfilling others’ expectations is an individual’s primary duty in life.

    • #11
  12. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Japanese society and culture is endlessly fascinating.  The fact that the society seems to be willingly exterminating itself is bizarre. (Of course the Italians are doing the same thing, and so are the Russians)  The common denominator seems to be a lack of economic opportunity.

    • #12
  13. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    David Knights:Japanese society and culture is endlessly fascinating. The fact that the society seems to be willingly exterminating itself is bizarre. (Of course the Italians are doing the same thing, and so are the Russians) The common denominator seems to be a lack of economic opportunity.

    Sufficient affluence where basic needs can be met and lack of economic opportunity.

    • #13
  14. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: But there is something deeply conservative about getting the young to accept the yoke, to fulfill expectations without questioning them, simply on the grounds that fulfilling others’ expectations is an individual’s primary duty in life.

    MFR,

    In making my point, I think I missed the mark.  They are not conservative, they are not liberal, too many are not . . . that interested.  They just comply.  They are apathetic, maybe cynical, except for filling out the forms, passing the tests, meeting requirements.  Biddable.  Curiosity is rare.  Motivation to challenge is not very common.

    • #14
  15. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Misthiocracy:

    jonsouth: Patriotism and militarism are seen as great evils by the wider Japanese left, having led the country to a self-inflicted cataclysm in the 1930s and 40s.

    Patriotism didn’t cause the cataclysm. Imperialism and expansionism did. There’s a difference.

    Overreach did. If Japan doesn’t attack Pearl Harbor and leaves the US be, the Japanese Empire remains to this day, possibly with Australia as a colony. Without being attacked, we simply weren’t going to get into the war short of FDR going dictator. Empire and Expansion only cause collapse if the Empire is stupid. Not many are. All the ones that lasted the longest picked their battles wisely.

    • #15
  16. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    David Knights:Japanese society and culture is endlessly fascinating. The fact that the society seems to be willingly exterminating itself is bizarre. (Of course the Italians are doing the same thing, and so are the Russians) The common denominator seems to be a lack of economic opportunity.

    Russian birthrates are at replacement level again. National pride and a sense of national purpose and destiny goes a long ways in motivating generations. Putin knows this. Few Western leaders do.

    • #16
  17. jonsouth Inactive
    jonsouth
    @jonsouth

    Patriotism didn’t cause the cataclysm. Imperialism and expansionism did. There’s a difference.

    Absolutely there is, however the misguided perception among the left here is that patriotism itself was the problem. Hence you have cases where school teachers are disciplined for refusing to sing the national anthem at ceremonies, others protest at having to fly the national flag, etc. Some of the protests can be as angry as the anti-war or anti-nuke ones.

    • #17
  18. jonsouth Inactive
    jonsouth
    @jonsouth

    MarciN:Very interesting. Thank you.

    The United States probably made some mistakes in its effort to help Japan get back on its feet after World War II, but given the chaos of the time period, it’s understandable.

    It is a beautiful country with intelligent people and fascinating culture.

    There were definitely some decisions made that were prudent at the time, especially with the Soviet Union just across the sea, China heading for civil war and the Korean Peninsula about to flare up. It was necessary to leave some existing power structures in Japan no matter how distasteful they were, because the alternative could have been horrendous.

    • #18
  19. jonsouth Inactive
    jonsouth
    @jonsouth

    Lived there and worked with the government at a very high level,

    I bet you have some interesting stories from that time, I’d love to hear them someday.

    The Japanese culture feels most comfortable when a politician is laid low.(Note politicans laid low is fine, but not a Daiymo or important province or clan leader or high formal official as it might imply social upheaval.)Ceremonial, political or social suicide/humiliation confirm equality and the village’s interest dominant over the interest of the individual.Japan believes when the stakes are high for politicians and bureaucrats, they will put the village first.This is not borne out.

    Most definitely. Western observers are often surprised at the petty reasons high officials (especially prime ministers) are removed from power. If our own politicians lived and died by the same ‘standards’ we’d probably never get to an election. But this is another reason the people feel detached and powerless – if a PM resigns unexpectedly then there are machinations going on that we didn’t see, maybe wouldn’t even understand.

    There has been a slight trend in recent years towards honoring individual achievement in business, though it’s not significant enough to be a true cultural movement, and most graduates return to type as soon as they enter the workforce. As a father I need to try and instil some Western values in my son as he goes through the Japanese system… somehow.

    • #19
  20. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I’d be interested if any of the knowledgeable folks in this conversation have any opinion on the  “herbivore”  phenomenon. It’s reported that men in Japan are losing interest in relations with women, to the frustration of the females spurned. I think I see a little bit of that here in the USA among my sons and their friends – having a girlfriend is much less a priority than it was in my generation. Maybe it can be attributed to video games or the poor economy [though my son’s friends have jobs] or maybe it’s some kind of deep social malaise effecting family formation.

    • #20
  21. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Obi Ten Centobi, you are the only one who can help them now!

    • #21
  22. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Jonsouth Post and JM comment do an incredible job sketching a place whose differences we cannot imagine, let alone understand.  Neither emphasizes the domination ( wrong word, ubiquitous influence?) of the senior bureaucrats, their cohorts and peers as much as I would but I’m 20 years out of there, didn’t speak Japanese and wasn’t a Japan hand.  Have things changed that much?  Politicians did what they could to exercise some authority but it wasn’t  much, a little more than Kabuki perhaps.  Behind them were the Ministries of Finance,  Industry and Foreign affairs and their cohorts and classmates in the keiretsu.  If the press became critical it was usually a consensus coming out of the senior bureaucrats that some politician’s ego or greed needed trimming.

    • #22
  23. jonsouth Inactive
    jonsouth
    @jonsouth

    John Penfold:Jonsouth Post and JM comment do an incredible job sketching a place whose differences we cannot imagine, let alone understand. Neither emphasizes the domination ( wrong word, ubiquitous influence?) of the senior bureaucrats, their cohorts and peers as much as I would but I’m 20 years out of there, didn’t speak Japanese and wasn’t a Japan hand. Have things changed that much? Politicians did what they could to exercise some authority but it wasn’t much, a little more than Kabuki perhaps. Behind them were the Ministries of Finance, Industry and Foreign affairs and their cohorts and classmates in the keiretsu. If the press became critical it was usually a consensus coming out of the senior bureaucrats that some politician’s ego or greed needed trimming.

    Thanks, and that’s also a great description of the political reality here. The Japanese bureaucracy is often seen as the true government but, even then, people understand the real power lies with groups even less visible.

    The synchrony between corporations and government is almost total (I’m told). The Americans did their best to break up the zaibatsu conglomerations yet they still exist in spirit. A similar situation exists in South Korea, where they’re still a reality as well.

    By the way, I make no claims to be a Japan hand (I don’t even work for a locally-based company so I often feel out of touch). Just a casual observer who’s been here a while.

    • #23
  24. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    jonsouth,

    The japan hands I learned to listened to most were married to Japanese or were Japanese Americans.  The rest had been carefully shaped and mentored by skilled Japanese  who were their America hands.

    • #24
  25. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    Petty Boozswha:I’d be interested if any of the knowledgeable folks in this conversation have any opinion on the “herbivore” phenomenon. It’s reported that men in Japan are losing interest in relations with women, to the frustration of the females spurned. I think I see a little bit of that here in the USA among my sons and their friends – having a girlfriend is much less a priority than it was in my generation. Maybe it can be attributed to video games or the poor economy [though my son’s friends have jobs] or maybe it’s some kind of deep social malaise effecting family formation.

    PJ Media’s Helen Smith wrote a book about the American equivalent, MGTOW (men going their own way). There are cultural differences to take into account, but my understanding is both movements share similar causes.

    • #25
  26. Al Kennedy Inactive
    Al Kennedy
    @AlKennedy

    Merina Smith:I appreciate this post. I wonder, do you think the low birth rate is a result of the sense of hopelessness? Are there any efforts to turn this around through education, tax incentives and the like?

    Merina, I don’t know of any formal studies, but I think most of it the result of increasing affluence in society.  It is extremely expensive to have children here.  Most families I see walking around are single children families.

    The only answer to the demographic problem  is immigration.  Japan cannot accept this as a solution.  Society is very homogenous, and Japan has a centuries long tradition of not assimilating non-Japanese.

    • #26
  27. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    Thanks for an interesting read, Jon. Your contention that the Yakuza work behind the scenes in the highest levels of government and business has me intrigued. My knowledge of Yakuza doesn’t extend far beyond Japanese gangster films. I do remember an interview on NPR with a journalist who’d lived in Japan many years. One claim that stuck with me was that Japan’s low crime rate doesn’t factor in all the people that go missing, probably buried in the foundation of skyscrapers or thrown into the ocean. Don’t know if it’s true, but if it is, would help refute the idea that gun control makes Japan safe.

    • #27
  28. Al Kennedy Inactive
    Al Kennedy
    @AlKennedy

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    But there is something deeply conservative about getting the young to accept the yoke, to fulfill expectations without questioning them, simply on the grounds that fulfilling others’ expectations is an individual’s primary duty in life.

    I think there are a couple of other factors.  Madison emphasized that the protruding nail is driven down, but Japan is also a consensus society.  It is Confucian, and respect for your elders is taught to every child as an unquestioned verity.  Japan has an official national holiday “Respect Your Elders Day” to honor people over 65.  In addition, the schools do not teach how to ask the question “Why?”  They teach facts and how to take tests, but not how to think.

    • #28
  29. Al Kennedy Inactive
    Al Kennedy
    @AlKennedy

    Douglas:

    Misthiocracy:

    jonsouth: Patriotism and militarism are seen as great evils by the wider Japanese left, having led the country to a self-inflicted cataclysm in the 1930s and 40s.

    Patriotism didn’t cause the cataclysm. Imperialism and expansionism did. There’s a difference.

    Overreach did. If Japan doesn’t attack Pearl Harbor and leaves the US be, the Japanese Empire remains to this day, possibly with Australia as a colony. Without being attacked, we simply weren’t going to get into the war short of FDR going dictator. Empire and Expansion only cause collapse if the Empire is stupid. Not many are. All the ones that lasted the longest picked their battles wisely.

    Hypotheticals are impossible to prove, but I not sure Japan’s empire would have succeeded.  Their invasion of China was not a success, and probably would never have been.  And if Chiang Kai-shek had not had to fight Japan during the Second World War, he might have defeated Mao.

    • #29
  30. Al Kennedy Inactive
    Al Kennedy
    @AlKennedy

    jonsouth:

    MarciN:Very interesting. Thank you.

    The United States probably made some mistakes in its effort to help Japan get back on its feet after World War II, but given the chaos of the time period, it’s understandable.

    It is a beautiful country with intelligent people and fascinating culture.

    There were definitely some decisions made that were prudent at the time, especially with the Soviet Union just across the sea, China heading for civil war and the Korean Peninsula about to flare up. It was necessary to leave some existing power structures in Japan no matter how distasteful they were, because the alternative could have been horrendous.

    One of the major reasons, that America acquiesced and reinserted the old guard who had run the country during the war was the fear that Japan would become communist.  Its easy to forget, but the “Red Threat” was a major concern in the early fifties.  Mao had succeeded in China, and America was worried that Japan was next.

    • #30
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