Japan's Asia Card

December 1, 1994 Topic: Society Regions: Asia Tags: BusinessSlavic countries

Japan's Asia Card

Mini Teaser: Is Japan, having drawn its last drop of cultural strength from the West, about to turn its back and abscond with Asia, adding a new intellectual and ideological dimension to the economic co-prosperity sphere it has so dramatically resurrected?

by Author(s): Ivan P. Hall

Is Japan, having drawn its last drop of cultural strength from the West, about to turn its back and abscond with Asia, adding a new intellectual and ideological dimension to the economic co-prosperity sphere it has so dramatically resurrected? Those in the West who attend to geocultural matters have long predicted the "return" of Japan to its "Asian" roots, and we now find the Japanese themselves proclaiming the "Re-Asianization" of their country.

The old, bifurcated political map drawn in 1955, with both conservative and socialist camps outwardly hitched to foreign lodestars--to American security ties and anti-communism on one hand, and to a U.S.-sponsored "peace" constitution and European Marxism on the other--has been torn to shreds. In its place we may possibly see an implosion of formerly antagonistic ideological forces around a new "consensus" nationalism, and that could easily take as its first task the switching of Japanese national purpose and cultural orientation away from the West toward Asia.

As Japanese enthusiasts for a warmed-over pan-Asianism tug at the tillers of national self-definition and cultural diplomacy, we can at least expect some high swells of touchiness and disdain for the now overtaken West, and a froth of magisterial vade mecums for Asians still bobbing in the wake. One can only hope that with the new strength and self-esteem of the other Asian peoples, and Japan's own position in an increasingly transnational post-industrial civilization, Tokyo may eventually find its way to a mode of cultural dialogue that is less fixated on hierarchical power relationships, less dichotomous about East versus West, and more in keeping with its genuinely global needs and responsibilities.

Regrettably, we are now witnessing the latest replay of an unproductive, six-part cycle that it has yet to break out of. In the opening bars, Tokyo's leaders dissociate themselves from a "backward Asia," seeking to emulate and join the "advanced West;" next, this exercise in impersonation provokes a nationalistic reaction and Western condescension; in the third movement Japan's intellectuals and statesmen then expound the singularity of their country and its divergence from the West; fourth, their Western counterparts avidly concur that, indeed, Japan is different; fifth, Japan then turns emotionally and ideologically to a condescending and largely unsolicited "leadership" of Asia and to a resentful anti-Westernism; finally, that runs into a dead end, so it's da capo, all over again.

One macro-cycle ran from the forced-march Westernization of the 1870s to the traditionalist counter-thrusts of the 1880s and 1890s and then through a series of perceived rejections by the West in the 1920s--Britain dropping its alliance in 1922, and America slamming the door on Japanese immigration in 1924--to the dalliance with Greater East Asia during the 1930s and World War II. We are today approaching stage five in a micro-cycle of trade liberalization spanning the past quarter century. This cycle began with Tokyo promising Western-style standards but pleading for time. As the United States and Europe began to lose patience and as domestic resistance built up in Japan in the 1970s, Japanese intellectuals built a cottage industry dedicated to the manufacturing of theories of "uniqueness" to justify special treatment for their country. But when European and American revisionist writers of the late 1980s joined this exploration of Japanese dissimilarity, Tokyo cried "Foul!" and complained of Western cultural absolutism. The upshot, from the early part of this decade, has been a Japan turning to the notion of "Asian values"--an expansion of the earlier "uniqueness" gambit--as a common regional shield against further U.S. trade-related pressures.

In a recent Japanese poll 60 percent thought their country should place equal emphasis on Asia and the West (the United States and Europe), with only 6 percent favoring a tilt toward the West and 28 percent opting for a tilt toward Asia. This nearly two-thirds vote for equidistance, with "Asia First" supporters approaching one third, already represents a major shift away from the Westward-looking postwar orthodoxy. It is also a trend that is likely to continue. Indeed, as Japan's media tout an alleged clash between Asian and Western values--and dwell with some relish on the Clinton administration's failed pressures for human rights in China and numerical targets for Japan trade--cooler heads have had to warn that the security, trade, and environmental challenges in the region can hardly be met without a continued U.S. presence, and that a fairer break on economic access would be the chief incentive for that. Furthermore, over two-thirds of the Japanese between the ages of twenty and forty in the survey judged their country to be "disliked" by other Asians--an implicit admission of the long, steep road ahead.

Old Reflexes...

Japan's periods of identification with Asia have typically expressed themselves in grandiose, holistic, pan-Asianist terms--more reminiscent of America's postwar appointment of itself as defender of "Western Civilization" against the Stalinist menace than of the quiet, steady flows that defined our earlier view of cultural relations across the Atlantic.

Japan's recurrent pan-Asianist paradigm, simply expressed, is that of two posts and a lintel. On one side a solidified Asia, much put upon and brimming with resentment; on the other an equally monistic but predatory West; and between the two a cultural gap spanned only by Japan, which towers above the Orient and serves as its cultural spokesman to the Occident. The Japanese sense of draconian alternatives was first honed by the early Meiji Period slogans of "Escape from Asia" (datsu-A) and "Joining Europe [the West]" (nyu-O)--terms that are still very much in use along with their increasingly fashionable inversions, datsu-O and nyu-A--while the visual finality of their Chinese ideograms, like red or green traffic lights, further impedes the conceptualization of more nuanced, intermediate choices.

Geographically speaking, although Japan's economic power is now felt throughout the Asian continent, the psychologically intimate "Asia" of the Japanese mind encompasses mainly China, Korea and Southeast Asia, closely fitting the area marked in prewar ideology for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Leaving out the "white" nations of Australia and New Zealand (despite strong economic links), as well as the Indian and other peoples of South Asia (despite ancient cultural ties), these boundaries reflect a natural but powerful fellow-Mongolian racial consciousness.

Historically, Japan's past flings with pan-Asianism have been marred by failure to assume a more egalitarian posture toward the rest of Asia, by hyperbolic rejections of the West, and by the sterility of a strictly intra-Japanese monologue. Although certain Japanese liberals over the decades have envisioned the non-exploitative nurturing of an Asian comity of nations, Japanese nationalism has always intruded to provoke its counterpart elsewhere, as the Janus face of worship-the-West and eschew-the-East simply switches its Asian mask from one of rejection to that of imperious orchestration--best expressed today by the "flying geese" development model for which Tokyo, at least, imagines a permanent Japanese lead. Even the selling of the Pacific War and the old Co-Prosperity Sphere as a struggle for the liberation of Asia did not come into play until the severe military setbacks of 1943, having until then been couched in terms of Japan's self-defense and resource needs--the expansion of its own empire.

Japan also finds it difficult to re-enter Asia without denigrating the West, or to celebrate the rise and creativity of its own region without invoking Occidental decline. The inflation of cultural threats is suggested by the odd way in which many Japanese still put the argument in terms of resisting Christianity--a force that has achieved less than 1 percent penetration in Japan and has long been on the defensive in a secularizing West. In his 1976 call for a return to Buddhism, philosopher Takeshi Umehara characterized Christianity as a "blood-stained" religion and its civilization as one of power, assault, and combativeness. Right-wing publicist Hideaki Kase complained to foreign journalists in 1988 of a century's onslaught by Christianity on Japan. And political scientist Yonosuke Nagai in 1994 traced the U.S. containment of communism to the anti-heterodox impulses of Christian theology. What all this hides is probably less concern about Christian religion, in which Japan has very little interest, than vexation with the pressure placed on traditional values by Western rationalism and industrial society; it recalls the yearning of Japan's prewar ideologues for "overcoming modernity."

Pan-Asianist ideology in Japan, short on input or feedback from other Asians, has to date served mainly as an extension of domestic chauvinism. One can hope that the old reflexes will simply prove to be transitional, as the current surge in student, arts and sports exchanges; in two-way travel; in new Asian language electives; and in prime-time programming on everything from Tibetan burial customs to train rides in northern Burma gradually transform "Asia" from a mere slogan into a compelling human reality. For the moment, the hype often grates, with its too obvious evidence of pre-arrangement, as in Fuji Television pan-Asian singing contests where young Asians in traditional dress are cheered along in English--the only language they all understand--by a breathless bilingual lady emcee, who then turns to analyze it all for the television in Japanese. More serious conceptual barriers to the real Asia persist in Japan's approach to regional cultural diplomacy, its advocacy of allegedly shared values, and its legacy of wartime bitterness.

...And New Tricks

The old pan-Asianist touch was evident in the cultural policy recommendations for North- and South-East Asia presented at the Second Asia-Pacific Conference in May of 1991, after a year's preparation by a panel of scholars under the aegis of the Treasury and Foreign Ministry. As their sole Western commentator, I was struck by the emphasis on creating a new "organic cultural sphere." This appeal to unity was based on anti-colonialist and anti-white resentment, the old dichotomy of "Eastern spirit" versus "Western technology," the put-downs of Western rationalism and "modernity," the same autistic insensitivity to Japan's neighbors (once again, apparently not consulted), and the presumptuous proposal for an Asian press center in Tokyo to "deliver the abcs of Asian coverage" to Western journalists. Calls for the construction of imposing pan-Asian cultural centers in capital cities and the staging of flashy events betrayed an expectation that the powerful initiatives by Japan could produce the sort of regional cultural blend that, in other areas of the world, has been the product of centuries of unprogrammed development.

Tokyo's cultural stance in the broader trans-Pacific APEC region emerged with its proposal, just before the November 1993 Seattle summit, for an Asia-Pacific exchanges conference that would help remove an alleged "psychological wall" separating the United States and developing Asian nations. Echoing the government's new theme of American insensitivity was a press cartoon featuring Bill Clinton on a dog sled, whip in hand, stunned as Asia's leaders break out of husky harness to scamper away muttering, "Can you really expect him to understand Asia?" American negotiators and opinion leaders should rebut Tokyo's concoction of a mid-Pacific cultural divide as a means of enlisting its entire region against U.S. market-opening pressures and posing as the guardian of Asian economic chastity. Compared to Japan's tightly hoisted drawbridges, lowered only to let the economic samurai out, American political, intellectual, and human ties in the postwar period have spanned the region like a freeway cloverleaf--in immigration, intermarriage, refugees, university ties, and in professional opportunities for Asian artists, scholars, and journalists. Japan should be asked to forge its long overdue Asian links on its own merits and stop trying to gain points by painting the U.S. as a common economic and cultural threat.

The immediate business of Japan's "cultural gap" ploy is to encourage and amplify the recent postulation by certain Asians of a monolithic set of common values under attack by Western cultural absolutism. After fighting in Korea and Vietnam to save Japan and Southeast Asia for democracy and capitalism, what an irony it would be if we now watched the region link arms to reduce American participation under the culturalist rubric that U.S.-style free markets, political liberalism, and individual rights don't really suit their preferences for guided development, "Confucian" paternalism, and group ethics. To the counter-arguments previously advanced in these pages, I should simply like to add two.
On the celebration of Confucian survivals, a distinction needs to be made between the so-called "Little Tradition" of ancient and extraordinarily stable Confucian popular ethics--still alive in education, workplace, and family life--and the "Grand Tradition" of Mandarin-led, theoretically benevolent, bureaucratic government with its rationalization of political autocracy. The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese and Japanese reformers who viewed the Confucian legacy of agrarianism, anti-commercialism, xenophobia, bureaucratism and imperial authoritarianism as the greatest obstacle to modernization must be turning in their tombs, along with Japan's Edo-Period Shintoist scholars who reviled the rigid Confucian canons as the bane of Japan's native literary and human sensibilities.

Second, throughout Asian history there has been a broad awareness of the individual as a morally self-directed and responsible entity--in the Brahmin's lonely working out of his individual karma, in the Buddhist's progress toward enlightenment, and in the sort of proto-liberalism which the late Sinologist John King Fairbank noted in the personal integrity and humanistic self-cultivation of the traditional Confucian gentleman-scholar. Indeed, only in warrior-dominated Tokugawa Japan (and some of its modern projections) and in the Maoist attempt to mold a New Man have Asians come anywhere close to creating the sort of self-denying automaton touted by the region's latter-day prophets of political obedience.

The greatest "cultural gap," of course, remains Japan's reluctance to liquidate the emotional residue of its past aggression in Asia and dissolve suspicion among its former victims regarding its true intentions in moving toward armed participation in peace-keeping operations and a permanent Security Council seat. Since their universalistic values are weak, and since justice ultimately comes down to the well-being of the collectivity--be it clique, company, or country--it is especially painful for the Japanese people to admit to any wrongdoing by their nation as a whole.

Asia on Japan

No clear, let alone unified, Asian response to Japan's cultural wooing has emerged to date. Professed attitudes toward Japan depend a great deal on whether one has been talking to consumers and economic planners eager for goods and investment, to politicians still playing the old "aggression card," to an elder generation with bitter memories, or to younger intellectuals looking for new and non-Western self-definitions. The nature of Asia's future links with Japan will in any case depend far less on cultural than on economic, political, and military considerations--including the nature and extent of America's future commitment to the area.

Since Japan itself has couched the argument in terms of cultural affinity, it is worth recalling the continent's bewildering diversity of traditional civilizations, even leaving out Muslim West Asia. Islam and former colonial influences pull South and Southeast Asia more to the west--toward Mecca and London--than north toward the Confucian orbit, which protrudes southward only into Vietnam and the overseas Chinese communities. Malaysian Muslims and Filipino Catholics have Creator-centered, Western-style religions doctrinally incompatible with this-worldly Confucianism or Japan's group absolutisms. Buddhism, long since extruded from its Indian birthplace by an enduring Hinduism, still supplies in its stricter Theravada form the core of social life and national identity in Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka, while its broader Mahayana version yielded primacy to Confucianism in traditional China (and "ultra-Confucian" Korea) and was heavily infiltrated by Shinto in Japan--where eclectic assimilation has given a unique Japanese twist to every Asian import.

Traditional cultures aside, the region today is differentiated by the politico-cultural divide between communist and non-communist states, by divergent intellectual residues of colonialism, by emotional gradations in anti-Japanese sentiment, by rival conceptions of "Asia," and by dissimilar ties with Japan's primary partner, the United States. Samuel P. Huntington, writing on "The Clash of Civilizations?" (Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993), titillated Japanese readers with his sharp East-West fault lines--and his grand cultural zonings, not in fashion since Toynbee--only to upset them with his clear-cut demarcation of their own country from the rest of Asia. Although some even suspected a politically motivated point here, Japan does have a backlog of bilateral business blocking any common cultural approach to Asia.

Proof of the Pudding

Korea (for now, the South) will be the litmus test of Japan's willingness to surmount its past. Nowhere do grudges run deeper than in Japan's cultural sibling--closest in race and language, in corporate and educational ethos, and in a joint intellectual inheritance from China and the West. Unprocessed rage at Japan's colonial attempt to eradicate Korean cultural identity continues to break out--in the decision to tear down the massive former Japanese capitol building in Seoul, in the barely-lifted ban on performing Japanese popular music, and in the recent vandalizing of a Japanese art exhibit. Christianity, in part a riposte to Japan, now commands a third of the population, and anti-Americanism among certain younger Korean intellectuals does not translate into follow-Japan sentiment. Some pragmatists in Seoul now call for a more normal emotional tie, but Tokyo seems to be counting on its economic leverage rather than an atonement that signifies a genuine change in Japanese attitudes and is psychologically credible to the Koreans.

At the opposite extreme, Malaysia has gratified Japan with its "Look East" economic and educational policies, as has Singapore with its resolutely dichotomizing "school" of West-versus-Rest pundits. At the risk of never being allowed to set foot in Kuala Lumpur or the Lion City again, I suspect that the Japanese--avoiding offense to America by letting others do the talking--have been very much behind Malaysia's proposal for an East Asian Economic Caucus which they would handily dominate; and that Singapore's self-generated harping on incompatible values--with a command of English idiom, Oxford Union oratory, and Western guilt buttons far beyond that of the Japanese--has served Tokyo's policy goals well. Prime Minister Mahathir's startling suggestion that the Japanese stop apologizing about the war reflects, of course, the preferred treatment which ethnic Malays received during the occupation in contrast to the Chinese, as well as the wartime education in Japan of a number of still-active national leaders. In Singapore, where the Chinese suffered horribly, the distaste for human rights probably has less to do with the glint of Japan-harnessed economic growth than with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's desire to strengthen political ties with China.

Whereas America's intellectual presence in Britain's former possessions has always been peripheral and subject to a certain colonially-transmitted disdain, Japan's newly funded institutes, chairs, book distributions and academic exchanges with the Philippines and Thailand flow into the void of receding, or at best static, U.S. cultural and informational activity resulting from the sharp reduction in former strategic ties. Economic, sentimental, and family links to the United States, wartime memories, and sheer temperamental exuberance will keep Filipinos chary of any heavy-handed Japanese cultural embrace, but in Bangkok--as one Thai professor friend recently put it to me, scrunching his shoulders to make the point--"The American ambassador looks sooo small, compared to the Japanese." Thailand, with its parallel history as the only other non-colonized modernizer in Asia, its shared monarchical tradition, and its ancient skill in adjusting to new power balances, is moving self-assuredly toward closer cultural ties with Japan. In an ironic reversal, Vietnam now openly calls for an American economic presence to balance Japan's, and the conceivable role of returning U.S.-based refugees as bridges between the two societies may someday establish the cultural price of Japan's stinginess in turning away so many of the "boat people."

Finally, what of Japan's two giant rivals for the mantle of "Asian" cultural leadership: China and India? Tokyo's concern with China today focuses far more on economic, political, and military tangibles, while the Chinese have hardly shed their traditional view of the Japanese as culturally peripheral--if technologically adept--barbarians, and retain a historical mistrust of Tokyo-sponsored campaigns on behalf of Sino-Japanese "brotherhood" and "friendship." Chinese inclinations toward Confucian magnanimity and Buddhist forgetting cannot erase the reality of millions of lives lost during the war. Japan's obtuseness with this historical fact was inadvertently betrayed by a Tokyo editorial writer who returned from Hong Kong not so long ago amazed by the way the Chinese and British got along with each other in spite of the Opium War of 1842, and puzzling over what was missing in the Japanese approach.

The sleeper in the cultural game may prove to be India, should it shift its political and cultural attention from West to East and vigorously re-enter the cultural zone which it once enriched with its religion, philosophy, and art. Several strengths conceivably could override negative reviews pertaining to its slower economy, caste society, and ethnic quarrels. Indian experience in holding together the world's most diverse nation for nearly half a century--without revolutionary paroxysm or military takeover, and according to Western-derived secular governance--is clearly the political miracle of postwar Asia. Indian familiarity with Western intellectual idiom also positions it as the most effective rhetorical bridge, a sort of "Super Singapore" capable of mercilessly twitting the Occident if it so chooses--and especially America, with which political ties have never been close. More to the point, any cultural definition of Asian togetherness will eventually have to go beyond the materialistic appeal of Japanese or Chinese economic performance to something more of the mind and spirit. And as India's preeminent cultural spokesman and pan-Asianist in this century, Rabindranath Tagore, learned during his visits to Japan in 1916 and China in 1924, the "Asias" of the Samurai, Mandarin, and Brahmin are different indeed.

India's philosophical bent for tolerance and inclusion, and its preservation of a medley of traditional cultures as the rest of Asia goes looking for its withered roots, could give it the last laugh in a bargain with the modernization devil that was the reverse of Japan's (leave aside the Maoist ruination of China's heritage). Alarmed precisely by India's political subjugation and its cultural bifurcation into an English-speaking, Westernized elite riding a multitude "mired" in tradition, Japan opted for an integrated but hybrid modern civilization with leaders and masses sharing a twice-thinned mix of extracted Western culture and attenuated Japanese tradition, sustained by a permanent political ideology of external imperilment. The dualistic "both-and" of India's looser amalgam--with its deeper accessing of both Western universalism and time-honored roots--may just possibly have more to say to the coming century than the unsettled tension of Japan's "neither-nor," which crops up repeatedly in its sense of cultural loss, its awkwardness in dealing with the outside world, and its outbreaks of xenophobic nationalism.

Asians today worry less about two Japanese faces than about none, as Tokyo fails to clarify (or deliberately veils) its intentions toward their region. The one face Asians as a group do see is that turned toward their students in Japan, where discrimination in housing, difficulty in making friends, and ceilings on advancement in Japanese companies suggest that Tokyo may be risking an output of one hundred thousand foes rather than fans as it approaches its foreign-student goal for the year 2000. (As for Westerners, who are present mainly as teachers, a 1992 directive from the Ministry of Education pushing for the retirement of all foreign staff over age fifty at national universities, with a ban on new hires over age forty, substantiates the ingrained resistance of the Japanese to any serious foreign involvement in their cultural institutions.)

Sayonara Uncle Sam?

Japan's relationship with the United States is marked by a distancing that expresses itself primarily in a new tone of contempt. Unlike the earlier anti-Americanisms of Japan's political left (which did not rule out an admiration for American ideals or a personal liking for Americans) or of the politico-cultural right (whose paeans to U.S. Cold War policy veiled its gut antipathy), this new virus reflects a pervasively perceived erosion of both American virtue and power. This is partly the result--as some tried to warn--of talking tough to Japan about trade without meaning it, or of actually getting tough without being prepared to handle the emotional backlash. The Japanese, who are quicker than most to bow to force majeure and cooperate with perceived moral superiors, are also "peculiarly sensitive to the smell of decay" and quickest to resent abuse from a morally flabby, retreating hegemon.

The abstract, politically connoted term han-bei (anti-America) has been superseded by the more personal ken-bei (dislike of America) and bu-bei (contempt for America)--the character bu combining visual nastiness with the scorn which the Japanese ear associates with the lip-voiced sonant "b" (like the Bronx cheer overtones of "boob" or "blubber" in English). Although some of this rests on popular sentiment, one suspects that much of it was originally manufactured and then took on a life of its own. If fabricated, we might infer yet another attempt to frighten Uncle Sam with the specter of anti-Americanism, or, what now seems more likely, a strategy to prepare the Japanese public for an emotional break with America. The break will come if and when Tokyo decides--whether by grand design, or through the inertia of vested interests--that the effort to join the world by genuinely opening up Japan's economy and society is more troublesome than establishing a defensive primacy over its own region. An anesthesia of anti-American grievances may be required to neutralize the considerable residue of familiarity, trust, and even affection for the United States at the grass-roots level, and to numb any anxiety over an untested recoil onto Japan's own technological inferiors.

We are already witnessing a media buildup to the fiftieth anniversary of the atomic bomb next summer, when the Japanese possibly may use the immolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the occasion to finally admit their wartime responsibility one-sidedly towards Asia, position themselves among the victims of the West, and shift the opprobrium to America. Certainly, the unreconstructed "neo-nationalists" are ready to make such an argument, if the comments of Ryutaro Hashimoto, Minister for International Trade and Industry, are representative. He recently declared it a fact that Japan "had no intention of fighting the area's inhabitants...It was not those [Asian] countries Japan chose to fight, but the United States, England, and others." Further, he was "not willing to say we fought a war of aggression in World War II." At the climactic anniversary of the end of World War II, the U.S. will have to look sharp lest it squander the last significant V-J Day to make its own case.

Americans will also have to address Japan's overdrawn sense of victimization, which goes all the way back to Commodore Perry's black ships, and realize that there is little guilt or remorse towards the U.S. with respect to the Pacific conflict. Speaking for the government in August 1991, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara averred that "It will take tens or hundreds of years before the correct judgment is delivered on who is responsible for the [Japan-U.S.] war," while former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita is now famous for his private view that historians have yet to pin the blame on Hitler for the tragedy in Europe. Japan's leading Freudian theorist, Takeo Doi, writing of the cultivation of higaisha ishiki (victimization consciousness) among his countrymen has even gone so far as to surmise that "The Japanese tend to feel wronged and to dwell on their being imposed upon to the extent that such a state of mind becomes often an important ingredient of their identity."

A typical Japanese docudrama on the 1937-45 conflict might open with Mitsubishi bombers over China (politely, from a hazy height), proceed to sensational shots of the Pearl Harbor attack, continue with the metal Niagara of U.S. Navy offshore shelling (such brute force!), and conclude with the Hiroshima cloud and prostrate crowds sobbing outside the Imperial Palace. I myself once watched a Tokyo University historian conclude his educational tv account by remarking that the war had indeed been dreadful--but listing up only the Japanese casualties.

Unfortunately, the controversy over the Smithsonian's exhibit of the Enola Gay, planned for next summer, shows how close America's amnesiac postwar generation has come to losing its historical perspective on the Pacific War. Congress and the veterans, however, should have insisted less on playing down the sufferings of the Japanese than on playing up the pain inflicted by them, along with Tokyo's expansionist policies leading to the war and the suicidal fanaticism of military leaders willing to prolong it to the last sixth- grader. Indeed, the most effective antidote to the predictable binge of Japanese self-pity next August would be the counter-testimony of a richly visual American documentary film on the recorded behavior of Japan's militarists, fascists, and ultranationalists at home and abroad from 1931 to 1945 to illustrate what the U.S. was fighting against and what it would have faced in any invasion. Let the film be a bit partisan and pro-American for a change--sponsored if need be by the veterans' organizations themselves, funded exclusively from American coffers, and unencumbered by any bi-national committee fudging up a "balanced" view.

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