Sunday, September 9, 2007

Nationalists

I spent most of the day riding around the city, to get a better sense of the overall layout. When I was downtown, I saw some right-wing Japanese nationalists demonstrating in front of the US Consulate.

They were surrounded by police - presumably to make sure they remained peaceful, as there were only a few other people watching them out of curiosity. There were about seven guys and a woman, all wearing black military dress.

One guy was making a speech on a big hand-held loudspeaker. I couldn't understand much of it, but I could hear lots of mentions of "American," the "United States," and "English." Whatever, he was saying, he was definitely saying it about me. Nevertheless, everyone was quite civil as I wandered around taking pictures. And this wasn't just because the police far outnumbered the demonstrators - you can see how polite they were by the fact that they stood outside the little chain drawn across the steps of the Consulate.

Although such extremism is, naturally, in the minority in Japan, nationalism is often, as in the States, an important component of a successful political career.

It is worth noting that, in comparison with Nuremburg, there were relatively few convictions in the Tokyo trials. There were only two executions, and a number of those convicted were subsequently released and went back to their political careers. Moreover, the supreme ruler of the Japanese state, whose official stamp appears on all the battle orders in what was called the Great War of East Asia, was never even brought to trial. Despite having steered his country into the worst disaster of its history, Hirohito was not only able to maintain the imperial institution, but also remained himself in the imperial seat. For obvious reasons, it has never been a crime in Japan to deny the war crimes perpetuated during his reign.

1 comment:

Jackie-Rae said...

It cracks me up to imagine you taking pictures of them. I bet they were pissed.