Archive | Japan

The Iranian view of Hiroshima: Beyond anti-US ideology?

by: Clément Therme and Banafsheh Keynoush

The use of the memory of Hiroshima as a political weapon against the US, a country that Iran says has undermined its sovereignty since World War II, is a recurring theme in Iranian media. During a visit to Tehran by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2019, the Iranian daily Farhikhtegan carried a picture of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear blast—a reference to America’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the war. “How Can You Trust A War Criminal, Mr. Abe?” the newspaper asked in dual English and Persian headlines.

Iranian films screened in Hiroshima

On the whole, the memory of Hiroshima is regarded as a positive influence in shaping the recent bilateral relations between Tokyo and Tehran. According to Farhikhtegan, President Hassan Rouhani declared in 2013 that Iran and Japan are two countries that have suffered greatly from weapons of mass destruction. The two seem to bond by insisting on their shared historical experience as victims of weapons of mass destruction. In Japan, still to this day, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are living testimony to the long-term health hazards of weapons of mass destruction. In Iran, there are some 50,000 victims of chemical weapons who can testify to the weapon being used by the Iraqi state during the first Gulf War (the Iran-Iraq war of 1980–1988). Every summer, Iran’s participation in the Love & Peace Film Festival demonstrates how it uses the memory of Hiroshima to strengthen cultural cooperation with Japan.

The festival screens Iranian films in Hiroshima about the sufferings of chemical warfare victims in the first Gulf War. Japanese directors have also screened films about Hiroshima at Iran’s Fajr International Film Festival.

Despite this connection based on memories of human suffering, at first glance Japan and Iran appear to have achieved little to advance a common understanding about the nuclear bomb since Hiroshima. This is partly explained by the fact that the Allied Powers in World War II insisted that Iran break off diplomatic ties with Japan in 1943, in exchange for signing a treaty to guarantee Iranian sovereignty. It was not until 1951 that Iran was able to end its officially declared war on Japan, once Tokyo re-established peaceful relations with the wartime Allied Powers by signing the Treaty of San Francisco. In 1953, bilateral diplomatic relations were restored when the Japanese mission reopened in Tehran.

Personal friendship between the Shah and the Emperor

The period coincided with Iran’s national drive to obtain nuclear technology under the US Atoms for Peace program. Iran’s quest for nuclear sovereignty in this period was not a hurdle to its bilateral relations with Japan. By the 1970s, Iran launched its nuclear energy program, and the period was marked by a brief renewal of Japanese interest in Iran’s commercial and energy markets, driven by the personal friendship between Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Emperor Hirohito. In 1979, Iran’s Islamic revolution halted the country’s nuclear program, only to be resumed in the mid 1980s. By the time the Islamic Republic of Iran’s massive nuclear build-up was exposed to the world in 2002, Tehran appeared to have parted ways with Japan over the issue of nuclear weapons.

The anti-US ideology of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, created obstacles by way of an understanding between Tokyo and Tehran on the subject of shunning nuclear weapons. Even Tehran’s political ties and energy cooperation with Japan were constrained by the issue and over Tokyo’s military and security dependency on Washington. But despite the US factor in placing limits on the making of a strong Japanese-Iranian partnership, the memory of Hiroshima continued to influence political interactions between Tehran and Tokyo.

“Japan of the Middle East”

Iran’s fascination with the successful “Japanese model” for economic growth and development despite the setbacks of World War II predated its revolution. The leaders of imperial and revolutionary Iran both liked to compare their country’s development process, and its share of hurdles and anti-western culture clashes, with Japan’s rise to power after Hiroshima. The fascination transcended Iran’s rigid Islamist factional debates under the Islamic Republic. It was the product of a national consensus from the Shah’s era to transform Iran into the “Japan of the Middle East.” The Iranian intellectual Ali Shariati who inspired the revolution to fight imperialism, and who disregarded the history of Japanese imperialism as a thing of the past, saw Japan as a successful example of modernization without the problems of westernization.1.

Despite these positive views of Japan, Iran’s political ties and energy cooperation with the country were limited. Even after the reformist President Mohammad Khatami visited Japan in 2000, the first by an Iranian leader since 1958, prospects of better relations with Iran looked dim. It was under Khatami that Iran’s nuclear program developed, triggering a nuclear proliferation crisis in the following years. Japan was a key ally for the US and Europe in their efforts to limit the scope of the Iranian nuclear program. For its part, Iran began memorializing Hiroshima, to deflect criticism over its nuclear activities. For example, Iran opened a Peace Museum in 2011, inspired by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum’s efforts to bring to life the narratives of countries that fell victim to weapons of mass destruction.

Forty years of confrontation

Iran’s tensions with the US and its allies have lasted over forty years, and increased in intensity, especially after Washington pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018. Though Iran’s conflicts with the US in particular are not as deadly as the World War II tensions, they carry a potential to incur a heavy cost on all sides. This begs the question of whether the nuclear debate in Iran encompasses more than what meets the eye, especially if it cannot be confined by the memory of Hiroshima or joint US-Japan efforts to date to end the potentially dangerous aspects of the Iranian nuclear program. Ayatollah Khamenei has publicly declared time and again that the nuclear deal made under the Obama administration harmed Iran’s interests by delaying its nuclear program. At the same time, he has banned the use of nuclear weapons through a fatwa, given that public sentiments in Iran are still generally opposed to the idea of the bomb. But average Iranians do not have a say on matters of foreign policy, or on how revolutionary Iran will address the issue of nuclear deterrence if it works to enhance its security.

The Islamic Republic of Iran seems to be piecing together the memories of Hiroshima not so much to take Japan’s path toward disarmament, or improved relations with the U.S.2. Tehran is intrigued by the US insisting on having nuclear weapons, and on the right to use them, and what that entails for Iran’s long-term security given the tensions between the two. It is these issues that preoccupy Tehran when it opts to work with other countries that have defied US nuclear ambitions, such as North Korea, Russia and China, to develop the Iranian nuclear program.

In 1983, Japan’s Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe met with Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran to broker a deal that would ensure maritime navigation in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War. Iran welcomed the idea, but it was not enough to get Iraq on board to end the war. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzu Abe accompanied his father on that trip as a young man, his first to Iran, to witness the challenge of averting military confrontation. On his second trip to Tehran last year, Abe was told that Iran would not stay committed to the nuclear deal if other parties refused to salvage it. Iran resumed its nuclear activities shortly after, pointedly showing that the memory of Hiroshima was not enough to end the revolution’s drive to obtain full sovereignty in its nuclear policy decisions.

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Is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) (US, Australia, India, Japan)

Intent on Provoking Proxy War with China in the Solomon Islands?

By Andrew Korybko

The leader of the Solomon Islands province of Malaita announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year as the legitimate government of China, which could dangerously plunge this underdeveloped nation back into a state of civil conflict that could then be exploited by the Quad as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.

From The Global Periphery To The Center Of Attention

The South Pacific, long regarded as a far-flung region that’s largely irrelevant to all major countries apart from nearby Australia, has increasingly figured more prominent in global media reports over the past few years as the West has sought to portray this part of the world as the latest theater in the West’s New Cold War with China. The narrative goes that China’s recent inroads through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and some regional states’ decisions to recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China has given the People’s Republic the opportunity to expand its influence there, which is being portrayed in a zero-sum manner as supposedly being a threat to Western interests. Political tensions have been building over the past year as more pressure was put upon these countries by their traditional Western partners to either reverse their relations with Beijing or at the very least “balance” them out by re-engaging with the Australia and/or the US, two of the four countries that comprise the so-called “Quad” alongside India and Japan which are collectively accused of seeking to “contain” China. Although concerning, this tense state of affairs had yet to destabilize the region, but that might soon change after the latest news coming from the Solomon Islands.

On The Precipice Of Civil War

The leader of the Malaita Province — the most populous one in the country that’s home to approximately a quarter of the Solomon Islands’ less than 700,000 people — announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year. This is especially troublesome because the Solomon Islands’ de-facto state of civil war that lasted between 1999-2003 and prompted a nearly 15-year-long Australian-led peacekeeping intervention directly concerned an ethno-regional dispute between Malaita and the neighboring island of Guadalcanal which hosts the country’s capital. The Capital Territory and Guadalcanal Province collectively have more people than Malaita does, which means that any possible exacerbation of their former conflict with one another over the China-Taiwan issue could immediately plunge approximately half of the Solomon Islands back into civil conflict. That, however, might be exactly what the Quad is hoping for since it could then easily exploit this unrest as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.

Hybrid War On The Solomon Islands?

What’s important to point out is that the China-Taiwan issue is simply a trigger for thawing this unresolved conflict between the two islands and their people, one which predates the Quad’s formation by over a decade but could potentially be encouraged by them for the aforementioned reason. It’s extremely unlikely that the leader of Malaita Province would make such a dramatic announcement had he not already secured support from this bloc’s American and Australian members, both of whom have an interest in pushing back against what they’ve portrayed as the “aggressive” expansion of Chinese influence in the region that they’ve historically regarded as falling within their joint “sphere of influence”. The external exacerbation of preexisting identity conflicts for geostrategic reasons — especially those related to disrupting, controlling, or influencing transnational connective infrastructure projects such as BRI — fits the author’s definition of Hybrid War. That means that this scheme can rightly be described as the Quad’s Hybrid War on the Solomon Islands, which could become the catalyst of geostrategic change all across the New Cold War’s South Pacific theater if the “Balkanization” process that’s being unleashed in that country uncontrollably spreads throughout the region.

Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?

Source: OneWorld

Formalizing The “Asian NATO”

Any resumption of civil war-like unrest in the Solomon Islands as a result of Malaita’s attempted secession will almost certainly prompt another international peacekeeping mission there, one which might be led not just by Australia like last time, but jointly by it and its other three Quad partners. After all, US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun declared his country’s intention earlier this week to create a NATO-like military bloc in the so-called “Indo-Pacific” in order to “push back against China in virtually every domain” there. He strongly hinted that the Quad could play such a role, and another conflict in the Solomon Islands might be just what’s needed in order to provide the impetus for formalizing this structure to that point. The previous Australian-led peacekeeping mission wasn’t all that difficult compared to others across the world so a forthcoming one possibly led by the Quad’s four members could serve as the perfect opportunity for strengthening their military interoperability with one another in a real-world mission instead of just another exercise. It wouldn’t entail as much of a cost as doing so elsewhere in this transoceanic region should another Hybrid War be manufactured for that purpose, and the benefits to their bloc could be tremendous in terms of their grand strategic impact.

“Perception Management”

Special attention should be paid to how this scenario is already being sold to the public. Reutersquoted Malaita’s leader as evoking the UN principle of self-determination, which in this context could easily be spun in a way to sympathetically present him and his people as “freedom-loving democrats” opposed to the “Chinese-controlled tyrannical central government”. Considering how preconditioned many people across the world are to suspect China of ulterior motives through BRI, it wouldn’t be surprising if they fall for this emerging narrative. To make it more believable, unverified claims could be made about alleged human rights abuses carried out by the central government with Chinese support. Reports could also be spread fearmongering about the environmental consequences of any potential BRI projects on the island. Since the nearby Papua New Guinean Autonomous Region of Bougainville just held a non-binding UN-recognized independence referendum that overwhelmingly passed last year, the legal precedent has been established for arguing that Malaita deserves the same opportunity to choose its own destiny as the only lasting solution to the Solomon Islands’ similar ethno-regional conflict.

Proxy War Scenarios

It’s impossible to predict in detail exactly how a Quad-China proxy war in the Solomon Islands could play out, but the initial conditions are such that one can nonetheless identify the broad contours of this conflict. Violence would probably be concentrated mostly in Malaita and among migrant communities on Guadalcanal, which would thus make them the two most likely places for a Quad-led peacekeeping force to deploy. If the central government successfully secures the capital region and its surroundings, then the peacekeeping mission might only concern Malaita and thus set it along the trajectory of seemingly inevitable independence pending a UN-recognized referendum there overseen by the Quad. If the authorities lose control of parts of Guadalcanal, however, then a regime change is certainly possible with or without a Quad-led military intervention there, one which could still result in Malaita’s eventual independence but also the reversal of the country’s recognition of Beijing back to Taipei. In the course of events, China might be compelled to evacuate some of its citizens if they’re targeted by the separatists, who might also attack them systematically in order to prompt China into deepening its political, financial, and perhaps even military support of the authorities through “mission creep”.

Concluding Thoughts

The news that the leader of a South Pacific island nation’s province announced his separatist intentions might have seemed so irrelevant to the rest of the world at first glance as to not warrant any serious attention, but the fact of the matter is that this event is actually extremely important because it’s poised to turn the South Pacific into the latest hot spot of the New Cold War. The author predicted three years ago in September 2017 that “it’s impossible to speculate on exactly what could set off a renewed round of violence in the [Solomon Islands], but the most probable scenarios have to do with a continuation conflict between the people of Guadalcanal island and neighboring Malaita, which was at the core of the ‘The Tensions’ in the first place.” That’s exactly what seems slated to happen after the leader of Malaita used the central government’s recognition of Beijing as the pretext for thawing this unresolved conflict, all with the very likely support of the Quad for the purpose of “containing” China in the region through “Balkanization”, which in turn could serve as the regional security impetus for formalizing the bloc into an “Asian NATO”. The calm waters of the South Pacific might therefore soon give way to a tempest of Hybrid War trouble with global strategic implications.

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The American Narrative of Hiroshima is a Statue that Must be Toppled

by ROBERT JACOBS – RAN ZWIGENBERG

A photograph of Hiroshima seen from a US airplane after the attack, autographed by Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets.

In August 1945, the United States attacked two cities in Japan with nuclear weapons in the last days of World War Two. The US used weapons of mass destruction against a primarily civilian population, instantly killing over 100,000 human beings, with tens of thousands of wounded and irradiated people who would die in the subsequent months and years. The American narrative of the nuclear attacks was formalized in a piece written by former Secretary of War Henry Stimson in Harper’s in 1947. Stimson wrote that the use of nuclear weapons ended the war, and in making an invasion of the Japanese home islands unnecessary, saved millions of lives on both sides. He actually wrote that the use of weapons of mass destruction against urban centers saved lives.

The American telling of the nuclear attacks focuses on the astonishing accomplishments of scientists involved in developing the weapons, on industrial manufacturers producing the weapons, politicians “deciding” what to do with the revolutionary technology, and the highly trained military personnel who “dropped” the bombs (always a passive construction) on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It seems that every year someone finds another way to tell the story that celebrates the inclusiveness prioritized in modern American narration. Some tell the story of children expressing pride in their parents involvement in creating this weapon. Others find “inspiring” angles of inclusiveness such as gender, or of minority racial groups, leaving unmentioned the enforcement of Jim Crow style discrimination in employment practices in the Manhattan Project production workforce. But the central players in the story are Americans, there are no Japanese people in the story. Japanese people are included only as statistics: how many dead; how many wounded. It is a story of the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of human beings in which those murdered are a footnote. No Japanese person is named.

This is a continuation of the war time erasure of Japanese humanity. In its practice of “urbacide” the US military turned human urban settlements, which were full of innocent civilians, into “kill zones,” “target areas,” and “workers dwellings,” or simply equations or statistics of burned area and bomb tonnage. Hiroshima was the culmination of a campaign that saw up to 350,000 civilians bombed, burned and strafed by the US 20th Air Force. Yet, we treat the people who executed these raids as tortured souls who hated what they were doing. That is if we think about them at all.

City sign as you enter Los Alamos (CC BY 2.0) by M McBey.

The fire raids are completely obscured by the A-bombs in American and Japanese memory. Historian Mark Selden called these, somewhat provocatively, a forgotten Holocaust. The comparison with the Holocaust is problematic for contemporary Americans. Even obscene. But, this was not always so. Already in August 1945, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Felix Morley, not exactly a Marxist firebrand, wrote “At Nazi concentration camps, we have paraded horrified German civilians before the piled bodies of tortured Nazi victims…It would be equally salutary to send groups of representative Americans to Hiroshima. There, as at Buchenwald, there are plenty of unburied dead.” We still have not heeded Morley’s advice. We are still refusing to look at the crimes we committed during our last good war. If Morley could say this in 1945, right after the liberation of the camps, American patriotism at its highest point, we should be able to think about the implications of the comparison now.

But we rarely do. The American narrative of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—which are by definition, war crimes—focuses entirely on the perpetrators. When it is being recounted by experts, it often obsesses over them. Who said what to whom on what day? What materials were moved from place A to place B on what day? How were the weapons of mass destruction assembled? Who did what? The American narrative of the nuclear attacks is an obsession with the killers, and with their weapon. To the degree that the war crime itself is discussed, the focus is on the physical effects and dynamics of the weapon. The presence beneath this process of thousands of schoolchildren is unnoted.

Replica of the Fat Man bomb (used in the nuclear attack on Nagasaki) at the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos.

Even amongst those of us on the left who are sympathetic to Hiroshima, the willful blindness endures. What American (and Japanese) liberals mostly renounce is not the US actions but “nuclear weapons.” As if the A-bomb “dropped” itself rather than having two billion 1945 dollars and hundreds of thousands of workers and the full power of the state behind it. So, we march for the abolition of nuclear weapons, we may learn how to fold paper cranes, even visit the peace museums in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but we never name names. Never point fingers. We still marvel at the technological achievement while we condemn the monster it midwifed.

Some hibakusha were happy and grateful for this sympathy. Some of this was genuine thirst for peace with America and a desperate need for a silver lining. In an extreme example, one hibakusha told a Life Magazine reporter, “something good must come out of this. I now want to be sent to the U.S. so doctors can experiment with my body. It does not matter if I die as a result, as long as I can be of some use to the world of peace.” Such gestures were part of an emotional theater that Americans expected from both Holocaust survivors and Hibakusha, which always ended in a Hollywood like happy ending. Hiroshima wrapped itself in emotion. And we loved to participate and hug its survivors. President Obama hugged survivors and shed tears in his visit to the city. He did not offer compensation, nor help with treatment for the death, misery and decades-long radiogenic diseases we inflicted. He brought the “nuclear football,” the mobile command center used by the US President to authorize launching nuclear weapons, into the Peace Park with him.

Leslie Groves Park in Richland, Washington.

So, yes, we like a good cry. We like to hear heart wrenching stories about the last train to Hiroshima, or the inspiring struggle of someone’s grandma in law. All of this emotion (and these stories ARE heart breaking) actually serves to take our gaze away from the dead and into the inspiring stories of survival and reconciliation. Of course, we need to hear the stories coming out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we also need to go a step further. We still have not heeded Morley’s advice and still have not, like the Germans, been paraded through the dead. We’d rather not look.

We have not redefined for ourselves the relationship between our Manhattan Project heroes and those whose stories we sympathize with. We somehow manage to keep these stories in separate silos.

This is not a question of simple amnesia. It is more an issue of misremembering and of pointing the torch of historical enquiry in the completely wrong direction. From the 1960s onwards, scholars have deconstructed the narrative that the nuclear attacks “saved lives” and were entirely focused on ending the war. Truman and his Secretary of State James Byrnes were clearly focused on the Soviet Union as they moved through the authorizations for the attacks. Truman did not so much make a “decision” as approve plans drawn up by others that had already been set in motion. Some Manhattan Project scientists did actively oppose the use of the weapons in Japan. This is essential scholarship in understanding the history of the attacks, the end of World War Two, and of the initial dynamics of the Cold War. The contributions of the scholars who have explored these issues are notable.

However, the annual process of reveling in the details, of “live tweeting” the various steps and movements of materials as they are put into place to commit the war crimes, seems a little disturbing at this point. Yes, it is important to inform people who may only now be paying attention to the story about the historical background, but the perennial limiting of this retelling to the actions and thoughts of the perpetrators perpetuates the American narrative—that the story is about the feelings, thoughts and actions of those who committed a war crime, not on the actual crimes or the victims. Having one final tweet, or mention of the number of human beings killed and showing one last photo of the mushroom cloud or of the vaporized sections of the cities, seen from the air—the perpetrators’ perspective—reinforces the view that those acting are important, and those being acted upon are…statistics. It is time to move past detailing the minutia of committing the war crimes and begin to expand our focus to the actual crimes and those who were attacked. Telling half of the story tells a disturbing tale about the storytellers.

Any political leader who would suggest today that the use of weapons of mass destruction against a civilian population would “save lives” because it would compel a surrender would be understood to be advocating war crimes. Why do we consider this justification worthy of anything but contempt when looking back at the spring and summer of 1945? Why do we obsess over the communications and preparations to commit these war crimes rather than clarify that what was being done was ghastly and inhumane? When we recount the history of slavery in the United States, we do not limit our focus to the “owners” of other human beings. We see the institution as the horror it was, and we recount the brutalities that people endured and how they resisted. When we recount the Holocaust we don’t obsess over the communications of Nazi leaders and the minutia of constructing the concentration camps and of transporting the Zyklon B gas (when was the purchase order written? When was the delivery received? And what about the woman guards?). While these details are an important aspect of the historical record, the story we tell is of the atrocities, and of those who suffered. If we talk about the perpetrators it is to understand how to prevent such historical events from happening again. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is as though we tell the story of slavery, or of the Holocaust, with the victims remembered only as a statistical footnote at the end.

Author Jacobs outside of Richland High School, Home of the Bombers.

While many in America have directly faced, and opposed the horrors of using nuclear weapons against human beings, our annual social media storytelling around the anniversary obscures the war crimes and casts a glowing light on the war criminals. This may be one reason that today, 75 years later, American society still embraces nuclear weapons as a valid military tool, and is preparing to spend trillions of tax dollars on “modernizing” them over the coming decades. Maybe if we call a war crime a war crime, we can more effectively resist committing our society to policies which sleepwalk us closer to what Noam Chomsky has called the “very severe threat of nuclear war.”

The American narrative of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as celebrations of American technological prowess needs to be toppled. All of the historical nuance to the development, manufacture and use of nuclear weapons must remain an important part of the historical record, and further research must be done. However, the annual “real time” recitation of those facts, driven in part by the nature of social media, serves only to reinforce a triumphal fascination with the killers and the obfuscation of the killed.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were part of a brutal war. But, it is a war crime to kill a mass population because some of those among the dead are defined as legitimate targets in war. If we want to work towards a world liberated from the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear war, we must stop fetishizing the mechanics of their single use directly against human beings.

We are currently in the midst of a historical awakening in this country regarding the historical injustice and systematic violence perpetrated against African-Americans. This violence was not confined to American shores. There is a direct line running between oppression at home and nuclear violence abroad. African-American activists were often among the first to recognize these connections. We are now toppling statues erected to honor those who perpetuated historical violence, and fighting back against those who celebrate the history of that violence. Meanwhile, in the midst of this awakening, this historical reckoning, one of the largest war crimes in American history is once again being celebrated. Now is the time to awaken from the American narrative of the “great technological achievement” of nuclear weaponry, and the footnoted mass murder of 100,000s of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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US Approves Sale Of 105 F-35 Stealth Fighter Jets To Japan

Lockheed Martin Delivers 500th F-35 Fighter Jet, Surpasses 250K Flight Hours

The United States announced Thursday that it has approved the sale of 105 F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to Japan for an estimated $23.11 billion.

Japan had asked to buy 63 F-35A, the traditional version of the electronics-laden fighter aircraft, and 42 F-35B, the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version for aircraft carriers, the State Department said in a statement.

Washington gave its green light to the transaction, which will improve “the security of a major ally” in the Asia-Pacific region, the statement noted.

“It is vital to US national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability,” the State Department added.

Japan’s 2020/2021 defense budget is a record $50.3 billion, aimed at funding purchases of fighter jets and missile defense as the country eyes the threat from North Korea and China.

In response to the rapid modernization of the Chinese military, Japan has decided to acquire a total of 105 F-35A aircraft over the next decade, in addition to 42 F-35B aircraft.

At the end of 2018, the Japanese government approved a five-year defense plan that includes the entry of two aircraft carriers into its arsenal — a first since the end of World War II.

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Japan confirms scrapping US missile defence system

Four Nations to Be Protected with Lockheed Martin’s Next Gen Radar

Japan has scrapped the deployment of a multi-billion-dollar US anti-missile system, the government confirmed Thursday, days after saying the program had been suspended.

Interceptors for the Aegis Ashore system were to be placed in two regions under the costly and controversial program.

But the government reversed course under pressure from local residents concerned about the risks posed by a missile defence system in their backyard.

“The National Security Council discussed this matter and reached the conclusion that the deployment of Aegis Ashore in Akita and Yamaguchi is to be rescinded,” Defence Minister Taro Kono told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

“I want to deeply apologise that it has come to this.”

Later Thursday, Kono said Tokyo and Washington were discussing how to fend off missile threats from Pyongyang after dropping the defence system plan.

“There’s a threat coming from North Korea,” Kono told reporters.

“We have been talking with the United States on how to improve our ballistic missile defence capability or integrated air-missile defence capability,” he added.

“So we are trying to make maximum use of what we have contracted with the United States.”

The government had originally guaranteed that interceptor missile gear would not land in residential areas near where the system was based.

But last week, when initially announcing that deployment of the system had been suspended, Kano said maintaining that promise would require a costly and time-consuming hardware upgrade.

The Aegis Ashore system, the purchase of which was approved in 2017, was estimated to cost Japan $4.2 billion over three decades.

However, there have been competing claims about whether initial estimates would fall short of the real cost.

The deal to buy the system was seen both as part of attempts by Tokyo to bolster defensive capabilities after North Korean missile launches, as well as a way to foster closer ties with Washington.

US President Donald Trump has pushed allies to buy more American products, including military equipment.

Japan’s armed forces have long been restricted to self-defence and the country relies heavily on the US under a bilateral security alliance.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week his government was committed to considering alternatives to the Aegis Ashore system.

“There should not be a gap in our country’s defences. We want to hold discussions on the necessary measures,” he said.

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The COVID-19 War in Japan: Is National Face-Saving More Important than the People’s Lives?

By: Prof. Joseph H. Chung

The performance of Shinzo Abe in the war against the corona virus has been less than poor. 

Abe is blamed for having put the policy priority to the Olympics and Abenomics over human life.

The Japanese people have the legendary docility and they seldom protest government policies.

But, this time, the life of each Japanese person is threatened. Would they continue their docility and silence?

In this paper I will do the following.

First, I will discuss the problems of Abe’s handling of the COVID-19. I argue that Abe made two errors, namely the missing of the golden time and mismanagement of the whole process of fighting the virus.

Second, I will see the nature and the depth of the ordinary Japanese people’s dissatisfaction with Abe’s government’s handling of the corona-virus crisis.

Third, I am asking myself how much longer the ordinary Japanese people will tolerate the corruption of the right-wing establishment, risk the restoration of the pre-1945 military imperial Japan and the ruin of the national economy which Abenomics could not prevent.

The COVID-19 Crisis and Abe’s Policy Failure

From the mid January 2020, the cases of the infected were observed in several prefectures. The government was aware of this trend and began to prepare anti-virus measures.

On January 30, the government established the Novel Corona Virus Response Headquarters under the Task Force headed by the Deputy Chief Secretary of the Cabinet, Okita Yoshiki with high ranking government officials who were far from being experts in the field of infectious diseases.

On February 6, the medical tests and consulting system was established. On February 16, Abe held the first meeting with the experts.

And, the criteria of testing were the fever of 37.5 C for four days and pronounced fatigue. This criterion was largely criticized as being too restrictive to find out the extents of infections.

In fact, a good part of infected is not symptomatic, that is, there are no visible signs of infections. In some studies, the asymptotic cases represent as much as 80% of the infections.

On February 25, Abe announced concrete anti-virus measures consisting of home quarantine and social distancing. These measures required that those who were of high risk should not go the hospital for treatment and they should get the prescription through phones.

Thus, Abe’s government was well aware of the crisis by creating needed institutions, but the trouble was that these institutions could not do their expected functions.

The basic problem of Abe’s anti-virus measures may be characterized in terms of the choice of wrong policy priority, bad planning and poor coordination.

Six People From The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Have Now Died ...

The bad choice of policy priority was shown with the arrival of the cruiser Diamond Princess on February 3 in Yokohama Bay. This seems to have disturbed much Abe’s government.

There were already unknown infections cumulated up in January and, now, there were 3,711 individuals on the cruiser without knowing how many were infected among the passengers and the crew.

But, 13 individuals infected were allowed to leave the ship without tests; they were allowed to use public transportation facilities. If these 13 individuals were infected in addition to unknown infected persons on the land who had not been quarantined, they could have transmitted the virus to a huge number of individuals.

Suppose that there are 100 persons infected and that the multiplier of virus propagation, Ro is 2 and that the transmission period is three days. It means that the number of infected doubles every three days.

On Day 1, we have 100 infected; on Day 3, we have 200 infected; on Day 6, we have 400 infected; on Day 9, we have 800 infected; on Day 12, we have 1,600 infected. Nobody knows how many persons were infected in Japan by February 3, the day of the cruiser’s arrival in Yokohama Bay.

But, one thing sure was that the government should have better managed the situation on the board of the cruiser and made suitable planning of the anti-virus war.

Speaking about the government’s handling of the Diamond Princess cruiser, Iwata Kentaro of Kobe University a specialist on infectious diseases was known to have evaluated the cruiser handling as “the violation of all elementary principles of dealing with infectious diseases”.

The fundamental question is about Abe’s perception of the corona virus crisis. Professor Iwata Kentaro was quoted to have said that “the leaders’ sense of entitlement was breeding indifference to the crisis and incompetence in dealing with the crisis” (1)

Koichi Nakano of Sophia University was quoted to have said:

“The Abe government has approached this crisis first as and foremost economic crisis and government public relation crisis rather than an epidemiological crisis.” (2)

This was clearly shown by the nomination of Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister of economic rehabilitation, as minister of corona virus counter measures. Abe was concerned with the salvaging what was left of his Abenomics.

The most important issue for Abe was the opening of the July Olympics, which was threatened by the corona virus crisis.

For Abe, the Olympics Game was a sort of saviour for him and for his government. It could be redemption for the failure of Abenomics; Abe was hoping to have tens of billions of billion dollars of income through Olympics related tourism; there was huge expected income from the rights of TV diffusions. The huge multiplier effects of employment and income deriving from the construction of facilities would have been considerable

For Abe, the Olympics Game was something perhaps more important than the economic and financial bonanza; it was also the question of “saving face of Japan.”

Japan was losing face because of the three-decade economic deflation, the mishandling of the 2011 triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear melt-down in addition to disappointing treatment received from Trump and the “Japan-passing” in the North-Korean peace dialogue.

So, it was more difficult for Abe to give up the Olympics, In fact, he waited until March 24th, before he postponed it for July 2021.

In the meantime, for more than three months from January to mid March had passed and the number of infected could have increased beyond our imagination; nobody knows how many, but it could be several tens of thousands, may be, more than hundred thousand, given the total population of 127 million inhabitants.

In fact, there are some experts who think that the total number of the infected could be 8 times of the reported cases of infections, if the testing campaign were more aggressive.

Nevertheless, Abe waited until April 7 before he declared the state of emergency for Tokyo and six surrounding prefectures. The world could not understand Abe’s way of handling the crisis.

Professor Koichi Nakano of Sophia University said this.

“Abe seemed generally reluctant to call the state of emergency, so may be out of fear of further damaging the economy, he dragged his feet too long, but he had no choice but to accept the outbreak which is now out of control.” (3)

Thus, Abe missed the golden opportunity to save Japanese lives most likely because of his concern about his Abenomics and the interests of his corporate friends.

Abe has been criticized for the wrong timing of the closing of schools in February without proper planning and coordinating.Korea-Japan Trade Plus War: Where Are You Going Mr. Shinzo Abe?

Abe was widely criticized for the terribly sub-standard face masks which were suspected to have been produced by incompetent company close to the establishment.

But, Abe’s failure the most criticized was the poor testing. As of May 3, the number of tests in Japan was 1.3 per 1,000 people as against 12.0 for South Korea and 18.0 for the United States.

And the number of cases of infections, as of May 3, was 15,789 to increase to 16,779 as of June 3. The number of death rose from 549 to 900 in the same period.

It is the generalized view that the number of cases and deaths are low, simply because the number of tests is low. Abe tries to justify the low level of tests by evoking the poor reliability of the test kits, the lack of hospital facilities to deal with a large number of cases.

Such arguments are not very convincing, because Japan has been boasting about the high quality of the public health system.

The Voice of the Ordinary Japanese

One of the sad aspects of the corona virus crisis is the Japanese people’s impression that Abe attaches greater importance to money and the glory of his “New Japan” than to human life.

The ordinary Japanese have been enduring the decades-long economic deflation, shrinking value of income, decreasing real jobs, the wide spread corruption of the establishment of the Japanese society and suffering of the elderly from hunger and social alienation.

But, now, they might have had enough; the life of each Japanese man, women and child is threatened. This is a new experience; they are frightened. They might have decided not to accept the loss of human life for Abenomics and Japan’s Face-Saving.

In fact, they seem to have given up their legendary docility and have decided to open up their mind; they seem to liberate themselves from the pejorative image of “docile sheep”.

The following is the results of the poll conducted by Mainichi Shimbum in collaboration of a research partner on May 8, 2020.

Evaluation of the government and political parties

Do you support the current administration in Japan led by Abe?

  • No (45%);
  • Yes (40%)

Which political party do you support?

  • LDP (30%),
  • the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) (9%),
  • Nippon Innovation Party (11%),
  • four other minor political parties (below 5 %)

It is interesting to notice that while 40% of the poll respondents support the government, only 30% support the Liberal Demographic Party (LDP) led by Abe. This seems to show that Abe is losing people’s support. In the past, LDP used to have 70% popular support.

Evaluation of the COVID-19 policies

Do you think that the declaration of state of emergency in the area you live can be lifted by the end of May?

  • No (46%),
  • Yes (36%)

Do you feel uneasy about Japan’s medical and testing system in relation to novel corona-virus?

  • Yes (68%);
  • Not uneasy (14%)

How do you evaluate the administration’s response to novel corona virus?

  • Negatively (48%);
  • Positively (22%)

As many as 46% of the respondents believe that the state of emergency will not be lifted, while it has been lifted.

This means that Abe has ignored the people’s fear. Such fear seems to come from their mistrust in the medical and the testing system. As a matter of fact, 68% do not feel easy with the system. All in all, 48% of the respondents evaluate negatively the government response to corona virus.

Japanese people’s docility

Since the declaration of the state of emergency did you go out of home?

  • Not at all (15%);
  • went out for essential needs such as works and shopping (82%)

How much have your own direct contacts with other people declined since the declaration of the state of emergency?

  • Declined by 80% (56%);
  • by at least 20% (26%)

The respondents’ responses to these questions seem to reflect that the Japanese people respect the government instruction of self quarantine and social distancing.

Since the declaration of the state of emergency 15% did not go out all, while 82% went out for essential missions.

On the other hand, as many as 80% of the respondents say that, since the declaration of the state of emergency, the contact with other people declined by 56%.

These poll results seem to lead to two conclusions. First, the Japanese people are not happy with the way the government has been handling the corona-virus crisis.

Second, even if they are not satisfied with the whole system of public health and government reactive policies, the Japanese people could have saved many lives by virtue of self quarantines, social distancing, saluting by bowing instead of shaking hands, frequent hand washing and the culture of wearing face masks.

However, nobody knows how many lives have been saved by the Japanese docility and popular culture. It is more than certain that the real number of the infected and the corona-virus related death could be much higher than the reported figures.

There is a theory saying that the government does not report the true figures of infections and deaths, even if it has the true data, in order not to make the people feel insecure.

But, this theory does not seem defendable, because each individual having the risk of being infected should be eager to know the truth. Anyway, by the end of June, the true picture might emerge.

What will happen to the Japanese Culture of Docility and Harmony?

A part of my education took place in Korea under the Japanese rule. I used to admire the docility, the obedience to authorities, strict disciplines and the quest for harmony of the Japanese people.

On the other hand, I was sad to see that the great majority of the Japanese people had to suffer from decades-long war without much complaining; it was difficult for me to see the Japanese families sending their fathers, sons, brothers to Kamikaze fighter planes.

I was wondering for whom the war was? I was wondering who was benefitting from the war?

Was it for the people or for the glory of a few ambitious political and military leaders who had the illusion of conducting the “holy war of liberating Asia from the White”?

Even now, I see, in front of my eyes, the poor Japanese children and the elders starving to death on the street of Tokyo and other Japanese cities in 1944 and 1945.

The Japanese people thought, since the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki, that they would enjoy peace, prosperity, the end of Kempeitai (cruel military police) and ordinary people-friendly government.

In short, they were hoping a decent and human society in which even the ordinary people can enjoy. But the ordinary Japanese people have been denied of such world.

History tells us that, if a single political force rules the country for very long period, the probability of corruption of the political establishment, the abuse of power and the alienation of the week increases. This has happened in Japan.

One of the amazing political scenes in Japan is the one in which one political party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ruled, since 1957, 57 years out of 63 years, or 91% of the period.

During this period, Japan had 21 prime ministers. The longevity of Japanese prime ministers has been as follows:  1-year PMs: 4;  2-year PMs: 11;  3-year PMs: 2;  5-year PMs: 2;  8-year PM:1; 10-year PM:1

Shinzo Abe has been prime minister for 10 years (2006-2007 and 2012-2020).

Yasuhiro Nakasone (1982-1987) and Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006) were two 5-year prime ministers.

Abe’s maternal grandfather, Nobuske Kishi (1957-60) and Hayato Ikeda (1961-64) were two 3-year prime ministers.

The instability of the Japanese government is well reflected by the fact that 71.4 % of prime ministers since 1957 were 1-year or 2-year prime ministers.

The excessive instability of the Japanese government was attributable partly to the different term for the party presidency (3 years for LDP) and the term of prime minister (4 years). The prime minister is the president of the party in power; this can create confusion.

However, the more important reason for the instability could be the never ending corruption of the political leaders. In fact, many of them killed themselves or lost the position of prime minister because of corruption.

One of the notorious scandals was the Recruit Scandal in which 70 lawmakers bought, in 1988, the stock of a company before its listing and made fortune. There were savage sex offenses at night clubs by lawmakers of the LDP. The bribery scandals of construction industry has been a part of the corruption culture of the establishment.

The land dealing scandal in which the first lady was involved was related to the acquisition of public land for a small portion of the land’s market price; the land was for the establishment of a Meiji-era inspired ultra-right primary school, Moritomo Gakuen.

The scandal which made the Japanese the very angry was the scandal of prolonging the tenure of the Tokyo chief prosecutor, Hiromu Kurokawa, from 63 years to 65 years.

The chief prosecutor is a strong supporter of Abe, who needed the prosecutor in order to use the Bureau of Prosecutor for Abe’s political purpose including the silencing of the voice of objections to his ambitions.

For the first time, 4 million twitters of the ordinary Japanese people emerged to protest Abe’s hidden intention. It happened that Kurokawa played, for money, the illegal “mahjong” game and he resigned.

There is a close correlation between the length of power and the extent of the corruption culture. As we saw, out of 63 years since 1957, the year of the creation of LDP by Abe’s grandfather, it ruled Japan for 57 years, that is, 91% of the period.

Such long period of power leads necessarily to the creation of the corruption culture dominated by big business, bureaucrats and politicians. This group begins with money-power collusion, then the creation of the oligarchy and eventually the creation of corruption culture.

Once you come to the era of the corruption culture, it is very difficult to get rid of it. We have seen it in South Korea under the 58-year rule by the conservative governments since 1948, that is, 81% of the period, 1948-2020.

The most disastrous effect of the corruption culture is this. The core of the culture is the monetary-political establishment whose interest is the maximization of the interests of the establishment at the expense of those of the ordinary people.

The nomination and the expulsion of prime ministers are most likely determined by the establishment. Many of the short-term prime ministers are those who might have done something which he establishment did not like.

Under this situation, the economic prosperity has not been very beneficial to the ordinary Japanese. One of the popular descriptions of Japan since the 1980s was “the country is rich but, the ordinary people are poor.”

There is another political phenomenon which makes the Japanese people worried and insecure; it is the Abe group’s dream of restoring the pre-1945 military imperial empire of Japan.

Abe’s decades-long ambition has been the amendment of the Peace Constitution, in particular, Article 9, which prevents Japan from making offensive wars. His group proposes even the way Hitler changed the Weimer Constitution by force.

The statement of the deputy prime minister who was also foreign minister, Taro Aso, showed how much the Abe team admired the Nazi constitution.

“German’s Weimer constitution was changed into Nazi constitution before anyone knew. It was changed before anyone else notices. Why don’t we learn from that method?” (4)

There was also the State Secret Act adopted in 2013 designed to silence the voices of objection. This Act has the following characteristics.

  • Civil servant who leaks state secrets can be imprisoned up to 10 years.
  • Civilians and journalists who reveal state secrets may be imprisoned up to 5 years.
  • It is the government which defines what should be state secrets

To restore the old Japanese empire, Abe has to silence the voice of objection. Abe has made the NHK (Japan’s national TV) into “Ave TV.”

The Japanese people have endured all these realities; they have suffered from 3-decade long economic deflation; they have had to watch helplessly how Abenomics could not find the solution.

As a matter of fact, Abenomcs has failed. The fiscal arrow and the monetary arrow have hit the wrong targets. The fiscal arrow has increased the national debt to 253% of GDP. The monetary arrow had inundated cash, in the name of QE (quantity easing), in the financial institutions without really connecting the money to the real economy, the good-producing economy.

The real arrow was the third arrow of structural adjustment. This policy means the strengthening of the industries by not bailing out the hopeless big companies. Most of the monetary and fiscal resources have been used for the bailout of businesses close to LDP.

The Japanese people have endured all these hardship caused by wrong policies. Yet, they have not gone down to the streets to protest.

They did once for the antiwar movement in 1969. In 2011, more than 300 civic organizations made street demonstration against the government mishandling of the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meld-down.

But, they could not continue, because of the lack of sustained backing of political forces.

However, Abe’s choice of the glory of New Japan (neo-military and imperial Japan) at the expense of simple happiness of simple people might lead to the open protests against Abe’s political forces.

The simple happiness of simple Japanese is peace, more equal distribution of the fruits of economic development and a little better social status recognized and respected by the elite group.

To do this, they need strong opposition parties. But, there are too many small political parties and the Abe’s LDP is too strong and still popular.

However, if united, the ordinary Japanese people can change things.

*

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Professor Joseph H. Chung is professor of Economics and co-director of the Observatoire de l’Asie de l’Est (OAE) of the Centre d’Études sur l’Intégration et la Mondialisation (CEIM), Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Notes

(1) thedailybeast.com/japans-covid-19-state-of-emergency-locks-down-criticism

(2) Ibid

(3) theguardian.cm/world/2920/apeil/09/dash-loom-in-japan-as-tokyo-governor-says-abe-covid-mesures-not-enough)

(4) thedeadlybeast.com/japan-shinzo-abe-government-has-a-thing-about-hitler-it likes-himThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof. Joseph H. Chung, Global Research, 2020

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Posted in Health, JapanComments Off on The COVID-19 War in Japan: Is National Face-Saving More Important than the People’s Lives?

Abe Shinzo and Japan’s One-Strong (Ikkyo) State

By Gavan McCormack

Asia-Pacific Research,

One Strong

Abe Shinzo has exercised extraordinary influence over the Japanese state. On 20 November 2019, as he passed his 2,587th day in office (over eight years) he became modern Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. But what are the sources of this longevity and what will be the consequences for Japan and the Asia-Pacific? Probably few, even among his close supporters, suggest that he has been exceptionally popular. His parliamentary dominance rests on a combination of political apathy, absence of credible opposition, and a well-funded political party machine honed by more than half a century of Cold War and post-Cold War parliamentary dominance. From a narrow electoral base, during his second term of office that followed the general election of December 2012, Abe moved to concentrate an unprecedented measure of control over the levers of state, nominating his close associates to special policy advisory committees and to head the Cabinet Legislative Bureau, the National Security Council, the Bank of Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the national broadcaster (NHK). He also paid close attention to the cultivation of the major national media groups. In October 2017 the support of just 17.9 per cent of eligible voters (48.2% of the vote) in the small seat electorate division was sufficient to secure the Abe camp 61.1% of the parliamentary seats. In September 2018 Abe extended his party leadership position to three terms (nine years from 2012) and so anticipated steering the country through the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond to the adoption of a new constitution before retiring in glory late in 2021. Coronavirus upset that design by causing the Olympics to be held over for at least a year, but early signs were that Abe would turn that delay to his political purposes.

Such is the degree of concentration of power in the hands of the executive and the enfeebling of the elected parliament that government under Abe is sometimes referred to as “ikkyo” (“one strong,” with implications of dictatorial). Yet the more power is concentrated in “one strong” hands, the more enemies sharpen their knives, allies grumble, and public stocks fall, leaving a prospect of increasing uncertainty. The other Japanese term increasingly employed in reference to the Abe government is “sontaku” (anticipatory compliance, or preemptive ingratiation, with implications of indirect rule), in which case cronyism is rampant and orders are perceived and implemented without actually having to be uttered. That the Prime Minister would probably want to help his friends with certain projects, such as (in the following analysis) a Shintoist Elementary School or a Veterinary College, or to promote certain “grand” state projects such as the JR Tokai or a Casino, could be taken for granted without the issue of any instruction to that effect. Sycophancy becomes a defining bureaucratic virtue. Such a state is likely to be severely tested by the coronavirus affair of 2020.

“One strong” implies “many weak.” There is a discrepancy between Abe’s political principles and commitments and those of the majority of electors who choose him. Roughly half the Japanese people oppose Abe’s core concern, constitutional revision, especially as it relates to Article 9 (the clause that offends him by renouncing “force or threat of force as means of settling international disputes” and resolving not to possess “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential.)”1 Despite public opposition often at levels of 70 per cent or more, his governments have enacted – often by forcing through the Diet – major legislation, especially bills with serious implications for security and human rights and freedom of expression – including the Revised Education Basic Law of 2006, the Secrets Law of 2013, the Security laws of 2015 (opening the door to war in support of an ally), the Integrated Resort (Casino) law of 2016 and the Conspiracy Law of 2017. More than half opposed the raising of the consumption tax from 8 to 10 per cent when Abe pushed that through in 2019. A similar percentage (75 per cent) opposes the country’s reliance on nuclear power, although the government is committed to reviving (and expanding) the national grid, much of it still offline in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

Appropriate to the world that the Oxford Dictionary dubbed in 2016 the realm of “post-truth,” government in Japan in many respects came to confront rather than represent the people. Surveys regularly show a high proportion of people who disbelieve and distrust the Prime Minister even while, not uncommonly, they vote for him, saying they see no alternative. Young voters in particular tend to be swayed by social media and digital news sources heavily weighted towards the government line. As under Trump in the US, so in Japan under Abe post-truth gathers strength.

From 2017, however, scandals arose one after the other, exposing the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the Abe “one strong” state. What follows is a brief account and assessment of some of the most important of the scandals embroiling the Abe regime: the Moritomo school, Kake Veterinary College, JR Tokai Linear Super-Express, Casino/Integrated Resort, and Shinjuku Flower Viewing affair. A final note addresses the significance of the corona virus of 2020 (declared a “pandemic” by WHO from 11 March 2020), in which the tendencies identified in the earlier cases – irresponsibility, cover-up, manipulation of the record, irrationality – become more evident even as the stakes become higher.

1) The “Abe Shinzo Commemorative Elementary School”

Moritomo Gakuen School Site, March 2017

In what was to become known as the Moritomo Gakuen (Moritomo School) affair, a plot of national land was sold in June 2016 at one-seventh its estimated value to close associates and personal friends of the Prime Minister and his wife who were intent on establishing a primary school in addition to the existing kindergarten. With the name “Abe Shinzo Commemorative Elementary School,” Abe’s wife Akie its honorary principal, and the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education as the school’s educational philosophy, it would be an unflinchingly reactionary institution. Treated as a sacred document and memorised by the kindergarten (and, prospectively, the elementary school) children, the 1890 Rescript had been central to the modern (early 20th century) Japanese state’s emperor worship.2 It called on the Japanese people to be “good and faithful subjects” who

“…offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth [and] render illustrious the best traditions of your forefathers.”

In offering no greater glory than death in the imperial cause it seemed almost absurdly out of sync with the 21st century, yet the remarkable fact is that at the existing Moritomo kindergarten children of three to five years of age were beginning their day bowing before portraits of members of the imperial family, singing the “Kimigayo” anthem, reciting the Rescript and shouting rightist slogans such as “Japanese adults should make sure South Korea and China repent over treating Japan as villain,” and “refrain from teaching lies in history textbooks.”3 However improbable, the Rescript’s statement of political principle was widely endorsed in ruling Japanese circles. The Prime Minister’s wife was effusive in praise of the projected institution and its Shintoist spirit. Lecturing at the kindergarten on 5 September 2015, she praised the projected school as in keeping with her husband’s views. Other prominent figures in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including Education Minister Matsuno Hirokazu and Defence Minister Inada Tomomi also endorsed the Rescript’s moral and educational value and Education Vice-Minister Yoshiie Hiroyuki saw no problem with it being recited at morning assembly.4 On 31 March 2017, the Abe cabinet adopted a resolution critically confirming that, although it should not be used exclusively, it was “impossible to deny the usefulness of the Imperial Rescript in the teaching of moral education.” Significantly, no member of the Abe government saw the Rescript as fundamentally at odds with the democratic principles of post-war educational reform and the 1947 Constitution.

In Better Days – Kagoike Yasunori and Junko, with Abe Akie, Prime Minister’s wife (center) at Moritomo Gakuen School Site, 25 April 2014

In February 2017, as the national daily Asahi shimbun published a bombshell story to the effect that the publicly-owned land for the school site had been sold to the Moritomo group for a sum estimated to be about 14 per cent of its market value. A storm broke over this affair. Prime Minister Abe and his wife both distanced themselves from their sometime friends, principal Kagoike Yasunori and his wife Junko. References to the Prime Minister and his wife were abruptly deleted from the school’s home page and its name was changed from “Abe Shinzo Commemorative” to “Mizuho no Kuni” (Land of Abundant Ears of Rice) Elementary School. Dramatically, Abe declared that he would resign from office and from the Diet if he or his wife were shown to have had any involvement in the sale of the site to Moritomo.5 As evidence began to leak out about the nature of the extraordinary deal between the Japanese state and the Moritomo group, the government fended off charges of impropriety by outright denial, while saying that all relevant materials had been destroyed. Between late February and April 2017 the Ministry of Finance undertook an extensive secret vetting process, making “dozens of deletions” to 14 documents concerning the sale.6 In particular, it saw to it that all reference by name to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, his wife Abe Akie, Finance Minister Aso Taro, and the Nippon Kaigi organization (the ultra-nationalist, historical revisionist organization to which all parties to this affair, including the Prime Minister and virtually all members of his government, belonged) was deleted.7 Having done that, it then released the fake documents to the Diet.

The pressure in the Ministry, which is generally regarded as the centre of power and arbiter of legitimacy in the Japanese state, to cooperate in this gross illegality must have been intense. One official (54-year old Akagi Toshio, upon whom more below) committed suicide. Another, who came to prominence as Ministry spokesman in denying any wrongdoing before the Diet in the early months of the affair, resigned once the malfeasances were exposed. Needless to say, whoever was responsible, the sale of government property at virtual gift price and the subsequent planned deletion or doctoring of public documents were highly irregular and potentially serious criminal acts.

As the gap widened between the “official” (doctored) version of events and the “real” version gleaned from materials leaked by whistle-blowers, government credibility collapsed. On 22 June 2017 parliamentary opposition parties demanded a special session of the Diet to discuss the affair. Under Article 53 of the constitution the government is obliged to summon the Diet for special session if demanded by “a quarter or more of the total members of either House.” Though that requirement was met, the Abe government stonewalled, at first ignoring the demands.8 Then, after 98 days, it took the sudden initiative of dissolving the Diet, not in response to the demand under Article 53, however, but only to call fresh general elections. As the miasma surrounding the Moritomo affair was thickening, Abe succeeded in evading closer investigation.9

The person who might be most able to offer light on the circumstances was Moritomo’s former proprietor and principal, Kagoike Yasunori. Kagoike’s allegation before the Diet on 16 March 2017 of special treatment and of having received a Prime Ministerial gift for the new school of one million yen (about $8,800), delivered by the Prime Minister’s wife, was highly embarrassing.10 It was also ironic since perhaps nobody in early 21st century Japan took more seriously than Kagoike the Abe creed of “beautiful Japan,” the “land of abundant ears of rice,” and the values of the Imperial Rescript. It is perhaps because Kagoike and his wife, Junko, were both ideological allies (also Nippon Kaigi members) and personal friends of Prime Minister Abe and his wife Akie, that the fallout between them when it came was spectacular. Both Kagoike and his wife were arrested in late July 2017 on charges of fraudulently seeking public subsidies for the school. Refusing to “confess” or cooperate with the prosecutors, they were then detained for just under 300 days, denied any human contact save with their lawyers, confined (in the case of Mr Kagoike) in a windowless cell where he was able to know night from day only by observing the demeanour of his captors and (in the case of Mrs Kagoike) in a cell without heating or cooling despite Osaka’s seasonal extremes of heat and cold.

By the time they were released on bail ten months later (May 2018), although public and parliamentary attention to the affair had somewhat waned, many questions nevertheless remained, including the extraordinarily low purchase price, the matter of the one million yen Prime Ministerial present,11 the question of whether the Prime Minister’s wife’s enthusiastic association with it could be considered a “private” matter, and, not least, the significance of the adoption by high officials in early 21st century Japan of the educational philosophy of 20th century fascism and militarism. Both the Prime Minister and other government spokespersons strived to dispose of the matter by simple denials. Although they were subject to occasional Diet questioning, there was no formal investigation.

In August 2019 the Osaka Prosecutors Office closed the case against 38 government bureaucrats (of the Ministry of Finance) responsible first for the “peculiar” discounted sale to Moritomo and then for tampering with or discarding public documents with a view to covering up high-level wrongdoing.12What the Ministry officials had done, the Prosecutors ruled, was “from the standpoint of ordinary citizens, outrageous” but no intent to deliberately damage the state had been shown.13 Thus absolved from legal consequences, the Ministry announced it was imposing administrative punishments on its officials who had a hand in the affair. The Minister himself (Aso Taro, who was also Deputy Prime Minister and a close associate of Prime Minister Abe) apologized but refused to resign. Instead, he imposed on himself a modest salary cut as mark of contrition.14 The official who in 2016 had supervised the knockdown price sale of the site resigned to accept formal responsibility in the wake of its exposure, but then months later was promoted to head the National Tax Office, in effect rewarded for his law-breaking efforts.15

The unresolved question is: on whose authority was the original deal struck and on whose authority was the cover-up subsequently undertaken? It is unthinkable that bureaucrats could have acted in either case on their own initiative. But it is also – if in a different sense – unthinkable that the responsibility for either should attach to the Prime Minister or his wife. Consequently the tortured logic of the formula by which government sought to resolve the matter.

Unlike Abe Shinzo and Abe Akie, however, to whose defence the resources of the Japanese state could be mobilized, Mr and Mrs Kagoike (Yasunori and Junko) faced the full powers of the state alone. Their indictment and trial was framed to focus exclusively on their criminal responsibility, while ignoring that of the officials they dealt with, turning a blind eye to the possible criminal conspiracy in the actual land sale and the lying and subsequent cover-up and deception of the National Diet. For both Kagoikes the public prosecutors sought seven-year sentences. In verdicts handed down on 19 February 2020, they were convicted of unlawfully receiving a total of 170 million yen (about $1.5 million) in central and local government subsidies for construction of the elementary school.16 Yasunori was sentenced to five years in prison and Junko (found not guilty on some of the charges relating to overcharging and inflating the number of teachers employed) to three years suspended for five years. Following the judgement, Yasunori was released on payment of a 12-million yen bond (ca $107,000).

The case settled little. If Kagoike and his wife were guilty of defrauding the state of the sum of 170 million yen, they did so driven not by personal greed but by the need to gain subsidies to make up for their unrealistic school funding plan.17 However, the officials in the Japanese Treasury had defrauded the Japanese state of a four and a half-times larger sum, (approximately 800 million yen) in effect giving away state property and then going to extraordinary lengths to cover up what they had done. Few will see the judicial outcome as just, and some will instead incline to believe that in so ruling the court itself was complicit in continuing to cover-up high level state crimes.

In March 2020, the affair took a sudden dramatic new turn. The widow of Akagi Toshio, the Osaka-based Department of Finance bureaucrat who had committed suicide in 2017, launched a suit for damages against the Department and her husband’s then superior, Sagawa Nobuhisa, for having driven Toshio to death by their pressures to break the law by doctoring the Department’s records on the land sale, especially by deleting all reference to the Prime Minister and his wife. She revealed the suicide note her husband had left, in which he made serious allegations against his superiors, referring in some detail to the intense pressure he had been subject to. “It’s so scary,” he wrote, “that I will lose my mind.”18 The dramatic exposure of the Akagi note may or may not have the effect the dead man had sought, a reopening of the formal investigation of the affair, but at least it reopened it in the public mind. A Bungei Shunju survey found 87.8 per cent of people wanting a reopened investigation into the Mnistry of Finance’s responsibility for possible crimes.

2) Kake Gakuen Veterinary College

As the dust of controversy still swirled over the Moritomo affair, a fresh scandal arose over an unrelated private educational institution. Kake Gakuen. Kake is a mammoth educational foundation in Western Japan, running institutions from pre-school to post-graduate. It is headed by Kake Kotaro, a close Abe personal friend, frequent golfing companion and family intimate from the time they both studied at University of Southern California in the 1970s.19 On 15 occasions between 2007 and 2014, the Kake group sought official approval for establishment of a veterinary school in Okayama University of Science in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture. In 2015, it reformulated that application to fall within the ambit of a proposed “strategic special economic zone” under Abe’s “three arrows” design for stepped-up economic growth, and the application suddenly began to move forward. It was approved in November despite the statement of opposition in October issuing from the Japan Veterinarian Medical Association which found that the project failed to meet any of the established criteria.20 Suspicions then began to circulate over the possibility that the decision in Kake’s favor might have been influenced by his close personal friendship with the Prime Minister.

As accusations and counter-accusations grew, it also came to light that Imabari City had provided the land (a 16.8 hectare site of estimated value around Y3,675 million or $33 million) without charge as well as meeting a significant proportion (9.6 billion yen) of the total project cost of 19.2 billion yen (ca. $172 million).21 Documents purporting to date from September-October 2016 and to be from the Ministry of Education, circulating widely early in 2017 and then published in Asahi Shimbun on 17 May, pointed to a highly irregular procedure in which the Prime Minister’s “will” and the wishes of the “highest level of government” were crucial in determining that the school should go ahead.22

A week later, former Education Vice-Minister Maekawa Kihei stepped forward to confirm that the documents were genuine at a press conference and subsequent newspaper interview with Mainichi Shimbun, and later personal account in the monthly Bungei shunju.23 Days before Maekawa published his bombshell, the Yomiuri Shimbun began to circulate scurrilous rumors against him, alleging that he frequented “dating” establishments where he sometimes paid the bill for young women (with the implication that he was paying for sexual services).24 The Cabinet office was assumed to have “leaked” this information in a bid to silence Maekawa and his inconvenient witness.25 However, it later transpired that since his retirement from the Ministry in January 2017, Maekawa had been an active member of an NGO asociation concerned with research and action to address child poverty. The allegations of impropriety went nowhere,26 despite the fact that his testimony of direct pressure from a senior Abe adviser to hurry up the process raised serious unanswered questions.

Maekawa found the process starting from the initial overtures from the prime minister’s office in late August to the decision in November 2016 to have been highly “irregular” or “dodgy” [yugamerareta].” He referred to intervention by Kiso Isao, special adviser to the Prime Minister and a board member of Kake Educational Institution, in late August 2016, to urge acceleration of the procedure: “I think he visited me in the capacity of a special adviser to the Cabinet.” Maekawa described having been “summoned to the prime minister’s office” about the plans on two occasions in September and October 2016 by Izumi Hiroto, a special adviser to the Prime Minister. “As far as I remember, Izumi said to me (in September), ‘[t]he prime minister can’t tell you to do this directly, so I am telling you to do it instead.’” At a subsequent, 17 October, meeting, Izumi followed up by directing Maekawa to “reach an early conclusion.”27 Maekawa added that, “the discussions that should have taken place did not,” and that “[t]he prime minister’s secretary and adviser have become much more influential and important than any of the Cabinet ministers.”28

Even after the authenticity of the Kake documents in circulation (sufficient to constitute a prima facie case of improper exercise of influence against the Prime Minister) had been confirmed by multiple sources from within the Ministry (including Maekawa), the Minister announced that a search had failed to turn up any such documents. Abe and his government (including Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide) dismissed the matter as one based just on “weird documents” (kaibunsho), vehemently denied any wrongdoing and refused to consider any official investigation.29

However, simple denial was not enough. Following an emergency meeting of Abe’s closest aides, Suga reversed himself, reopening the investigation and “finding” 14 of the 19 “weird documents.” Suga continued to claim, however, that they did not demonstrate any direct association of the “Prime Ministerial will” with the decision.30 Further material turned up in July 2017 confirming Maekawa’s account and indicating that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hagiuda Koichi had “conveyed Abe’s will on the school project” to the Ministry of Education, setting the specific deadline of April 2018 for it to open.31 By 2018 no less than five senior government officials had testified that they had striven to advance the Kake cause on behalf of the Prime Minister. Abe continued to insist that he had known nothing about the case till it became a public matter in January 2017.32

Although it is not clear how exactly veterinary science might be given an ultranationalist twist, such an element is not to be dismissed. Kake’s middle schools are noted for their adoption of rightist history and civics texts, offering a “Japan is beautiful” patriotic education, an orientation to constitutional revision and an end to the post-war regime.33 And when in due course the veterinary school opened (April 2018) the entrance exams held to determine the first student intake pre-determined that Korean applicants be awarded zero on the interview component of their application (for which 50 out of 200 points were awarded), irrespective of their actual ability. It meant that all eight of the 69 applicants who happened to be South Korean nationals were eliminated, including the person who topped the entire cohort on the written papers.34 It goes without saying that such practice was blatantly discriminatory.

3) JR Tokai’s Linear Super-Express

Slightly different in character, yet extremely serious in its economic and environmental implications, is the case of the JR Tokai (railroad company) project for the construction of a linear (magnetic levitation) super express rail link between Eastern and Western Japan (Tokyo and Osaka). The cost has been estimated at a fabulous nine trillion yen (over $80 billion). That would make it one of the grandest and most expensive infrastructural projects in the world. It is to cost slightly more than China’s south-north water transfer project (78 billion as of 2014), and not quite matching the international space station (which cost well over one hundred billion dollars but was covered by a consortium of rich counties over many decades). Perhaps the most startling comparison is with Japan’s Oedo municipal subway that runs for 44 kilometers under densely populated Tokyo and cost about 1.3 trillion yen,35 meaning that the linear project is some 5.5 times greater. Construction commenced early in 2016 on a deep, mostly underground (at depths to 1,400 meters) route, along which linear trains would travel at speeds up to 505 kph. The first section, linking Tokyo with Nagoya, was originally scheduled for 2045 but in 2016 that date was brought forward to 2027 following the grant of three trillion yen in low interest (0.8%) credit by the national government. Since there was a thirty-year period of grace before any repayment was required, it amounted to a huge state gift to a supposedly private company run by a close friend of the Prime Minister.

In August 2018, the national economic daily, Nikkei Bijinesu, referred to the project as a “land-based Concorde” and pointed out that JR Tokai’s head, Kaneko Shin, had met with Prime Minister Abe on at least forty-five occasions during the decision-making process,36 thus suggesting that the affair should be viewed through the same lens as the Moritomo and Kake cases, as an example of rampant cronyism. The project continues. For the steadily shrinking and aging population of 21st century Japan, it is hard to imagine any project more unnecessary and more comprehensively risky than a transport system rocketing people up and down the country deep underground at fabulous speed. When the anticipated magnitude 8-plus “Nankai Trough” quake hits Japan’s capital region, estimated as a 60-70 per cent probability within 30 years and 90 per cent within 50 years, it does not bear thinking of what will become of those caught deep underground.37

One recent account concludes that it is “deficit-breeding, energy-wasting, environmentally-destructive, and technologically unreliable … a guaranteed fiasco.”38 And it has the potential not only of its own collapse and of serious ecological disaster but of bringing down the existing Tokaido shinkansen by poaching its customers. Abe refers to this project as a dream, but it is a dream he did much to inflict on the nation which has real potential to become a nightmare.

4) The Casino Project

Gambling is nominally forbidden under Article 185 of the Criminal Code. There are, however, significant exceptions and Japan is in fact a gambling super-power, with the Welfare Ministry estimating 3.6 per cent of people (3.2 million) at some level of dependency.39 The pachinko pinball slot machine industry is substantial (with an estimated revenue equal to six times that of Macao’s casinos) and betting is allowed on horse, motor boat, and cycle racing. Leisure and construction groups within the ruling Japanese Liberal-Democratic Party establishment have long pushed for revision of the law to allow casino-style licensed gambling and both Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro have been key figures in the parliamentary casino lobby. Both served as its “principal advisers” from the time that group was set up in the Diet in 2010.40 Internationally, the global gambling industry had also long called for restrictions to be lifted so as to allow a Macao- or Las Vegas-style casino business.41 They pointed out that Japan was the only OECD country without legalized casino gambling. Public opposition, however, was formidable. Because of it, casino-promotion forces tended to downplay the word “gambling” and prefer instead to use the term “Integrated Resort,” representing the IR as part of the path to national greatness, to be built and managed by the private sector and to attract many millions of visitors while being carefully controlled to prevent abuses.

The Abe government in its second term beginning 2012 adopted the casino as a priority national policy project to drive economic growth. Later, as the 2020 Olympic Games loomed, the casino became also the formula to help overcome the recession otherwise anticipated in their wake. Secure in their dominance of both houses of the Diet, in December 2016 after a paltry six hours debate – part of which LDP members used to recite Buddhist scriptures so as to fill in time – they forced through the Diet an “Integrated Resort Promotion Law.”42 The words “casino” and “gambling” were conspicuously absent.

There was, however, rather more to the Abe decision to drive the country along the gambling path to greatness than this. In February 2017, just months after adoption of the new law, on the occasion of the first meeting between Abe and the new US President, Trump explicitly urged that Japan look favourably on the proposal that the Las Vegas and Macao gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson be granted one of the forthcoming three Japanese casino licenses for his Las Vegas Sands Corporation.43 Adelson was a major Trump benefactor, having contributed $20 million to his presidential election fund in 2016 and an additional $5 million for the inauguration ceremony (and having committed multi-millions for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign). On the eve of the Abe visit to the US for his first Trump meeting in February 2017, Adelson flew to Washington for a meeting with Trump, Jared Kushner (the president’s son-in-law) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. When he joined Abe at the breakfast table the next morning there can be no doubt that subjects for discussion included the future of the Japan casino industry following adoption of the new law. We cannot know for sure that President Trump intervened to promote the Las Vegas Sands cause, but it would certainly be no surprise if he had done so.

For the record, Abe later denied any such exchange with the President and/or the gambling tycoon, but he has not been pursued over the matter in either parliament or media, and the implications are such that whatever the truth, he would be sure to issue denials.44

In fact, the Abe practice makes it increasingly difficult to discover the truth. Many government committees no longer take minutes and, when such records do exist, the Abe government encourages bureaucrats to delete them as soon as possible and/or to doctor them appropriately to ensure that no embarrassing or incriminating trace of government (Abe) intervention remain.

What is clear, however, is that upon return to Tokyo from his meetings with Trump and Adelson in Washington and Florida, having established a rapport with the President that attracted world-wide attention, Abe moved the casino project into high gear. In April, convening for the first time the official promotion body, he announced that Japan’s “Integrated Resorts” would be tightly regulated, “clean casinos,” no less.45 Shortly after these meetings, Adelson flew to Tokyo for high-level meetings with senior figures in Abe’s Liberal-Democratic Party, and later that year flew in for a Las Vegas Sands event featuring British football’s super-star David Beckham and American rock guitarist Joe Walsh of The Eagles. Beckham notably declared “Las Vegas Sands is creating fabulous resorts around the world, and their scale and vision are impressive.”46 In due course an enabling law was forced through the Diet almost without debate in July 2018,47 despite opposition levels in the country that (according to The Economist), were above 80 per cent.48

On Christmas Day 2019, however, Akimoto Tsukasa, a key associate of the Prime Minister, responsible within the cabinet through much of 2017 and 2018 for IR/casino matters, was arrested on suspicion of having received about 3.7 million yen ($33,800) in bribes from the Chinese online betting firm 500.com, which he then distributed to at least five other Diet members in the attempt to win favour for a casino license for the village of Rusutsu in Hokkaido.49

It remains to be seen whether this affair will be contained by the arrest of Akimoto (and possibly some or all of the other Diet member beneficiaries of Chinese gambling largesse) and whether Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands and Macao interests were involved. The commitment of the Abe government to opening the national gambling market seemed undimmed, but 70 per cent of people are of the view that the government should think again, and only 21 per cent thought the plan should go ahead unchanged.50 The amount involved in the casino scam thus far unfolding may have been trivial, especially in the context of the global gaming industry, but Abe had been heavy involved in the promotion, insisting it would be clean and unproblematic, and the arrests were a blow to him.51

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, with wife Akie, and supporters at Flower Viewing Party, Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, 13 April 2019

On 13 April 2019, the Abe government convened a mass “cherry blossom-viewing” garden party at Shinjuku Gyoen gardens in Tokyo. The event itself was not controversial. It had been held annually, with up to 10,000 people invited, since 1952. But under the second Abe government (from December 2012) the number of invitees increased steadily. In 2019 the Abe government invited 18,200 people, supposedly those who had distinguished themselves in politics, the arts, culture, entertainment, and so on, but in practice most had been nominated by the ruling party, the Prime Minister’s prefectural support group, and even his wife.52 850 people also accepted invitations to a dinner on the eve of the flower party at an up-market Tokyo hotel (New Otani Banquet Hall) for which they paid a modest sum (5,000 yen).

On 9 May 2019, suspicious that the flower party may have been rather more than it seemed, the Japan Communist Party’s Miyamoto Toru rose in the Diet to seek release of the guest list, only to be told that it no longer existed. As later transpired, its 800 pages had been dumped into a giant government shredder (a “Nakabayashi NSC-7510 Mark 3”)53 within one hour of Miyamoto seeking access to them. Such an admission fed suspicion. 69.2 per cent of people simply did not believe the Prime Minister’s explanations on the flower-viewing affair.54

Early in 2020, the focus of public and media interest in this affair shifted from the missing guest list to the question of payment: had Abe, the government, or the Liberal Democratic Party paid part or all of the cost? If so, the prima facie case for seeing the party and the dinner as breaching the Political Funding law (forbidding the wining and dining of constituents) was clear. Abe assured the Diet, however, that although the pre-party dinner had been hosted by his supporters’ association, it was the hotel that set the 5,000-yen price although it did not issue any quotes or detailed statements. An Abe staff member had collected the money at the entrance and handed it to the hotel in return for receipts written by hand and with the addressee line blank. That seemed improbable and, later, a spokesman for ANA Hotels (that alternated with Hotel New Otani in hosting large government events) said that it was impossible:

“there are no cases in which detailed statements are not issued to event hosts, it has never issued receipts with the addressee blank; and it does not collect fees from individual participants instead of the host of an event.”55

The contradiction with Abe’s account was plain. It looked like a fresh case of Abe and his associates making up facts as required by circumstances. As the disbelief in Abe’s story spread. his office proceeded to have “talks” with the hotel, whereupon ANA changed its story.

“My office,” said Abe, “checked with the hotel and they said they were merely responding to Ms Tsujimoto [Constitutional Democratic Party representative who asked the Diet question] in general terms. They said that speaking of individual cases would infringe on the confidentiality of operations, so individual cases were not included in their response to Tsujimoto.”56

The hotels, in other words – not surprisingly since the Prime Minister and Government were major customers – had no wish to contradict the Prime Minister. While the Diet and the people brooded over these improbable exchanges between Prime Minister and hotel and the unlikely claim that any hotel would host so many people, so cheaply while issuing only blank receipts, the immediate consequence was further erosion of confidence in the Prime Minister. This time, unlike other scandals, his own direct personal involvement was clear and blame could not easily be shifted to bureaucrats. There would be no such party in 2020.

5) Coronavirus

As this article was being revised for publication, the coronavirus struck, profoundly affecting the entire world. Here is not the place for a detailed account of the Abe government’s response to the outbreak but it seems appropriate to point to some aspects of the still unfolding crisis that are indicative of the structural nexus common to it and to the cases considered above. No other event had such potential, on the one hand to reinforce and on the other to challenge, Abe’s “one strong” state: to reinforce by means of “emergency powers” given to the Prime Minister under the “special measures law to deal with the new influenza and other related diseases” adopted by the Diet on 13 March 2020, which was a logical extension of his steady appropriation of powers discussed above; or to challenge, in the sense of causing social and economic pain for which blame might attach to the Prime Minister for the way he had handled, or mishandled, things.

Abe’s support figures have not exactly plummeted under these recent shocks and scandals, but in the early months of 2020 were sliding, in the 30-40 per cent range, and the number of those who did not support him was either equal or slightly greater than that of those that did. Even after the outbreak of the mystery illness was first reported in early December in and around Wuhan City in Hubei, Japan allowed direct flights to and from Wuhan (38 per week) to continue.57 As the outbreak reached a crisis point in Wuhan in January and spread throughout the country, Chinese visitors to Japan hit a record of more than 920,000 in that month.58 Abe and his government are widely seen to bear some blame for having detained the Diamond Princess cruise ship with its 3,700 passengers and crew offshore from Yokohama for several weeks from 3 February, allowing the ship to serve as incubator spreading the disease, first among the detainees themselves and then more widely once the passengers and crew disembarked on 21 February.59 As Isabel Reynolds wrote in The Japan Times, “The Abe government waited until Feb. 1 to bar visitors with symptoms, tested only a tiny fraction of possible cases in the initial days, and moved suddenly last week to quarantine arrivals from China after the pace of infections there had begun to slow.”

On 15 February Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga brushed off questions about the virus, refusing to treat it seriously, and even when the US and other countries restricted entry by Chinese (or foreign nationals who had been in China, Abe welcomed visitors for the New Year festival.60 Only on 26 February did the government belatedly call for all public (sporting cultural, etc) events at which crowds of people might be expected to gather to be cancelled or postponed and, the following day, 27th, Abe “requested” all schools and other educational institutions to close for approximately four weeks from 2 March until the opening of the spring school year in April. The country was thrown into confusion especially by this latter order (framed as request for “self-regulation” but coming from the Prime Minister it was tantamount to an order). It was especially controversial as it seems to have been taken against the advice of Cabinet Secretary Suga and without consulting the Minister for Education. The confusion was compounded by the fact that the Prime Minister’s call for all schools and universities to be closed was followed by a directive from the Minister for Health requesting operators of kindergartens and nursery schools to remain open.

Anger and dismay was the common response to this sequence of measures. One former Minister of Health (2006) who had also served as Governor of Tokyo (2014-2016) referred to the Abe government’s handling of the crisis as “disastrous” and blamed Abe for having “stayed too long in power.”61 Under the prevailing “sontaku politics,” the Prime Minister’s office was indeed all powerful, Masuzoe complained.62 The mayor of Chiba, Toshihito Kumagai, went even further, saying the school closure “could result in a breakdown of Japanese society.63

As of mid-March 2020, Japan accounted for 1,423 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 697 of them attributable to the Diamond Princess and another 14 to returnees on charter flights from China, and 28 deaths (7 from the ship). However, these relatively low figures owe much to the fact that the government’s priority has consistently been to minimize the disease in order not to upset the scheduled opening of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in July. The testing regime has been anything but rigorous, as the comparison with neighboring South Korea shows: by the end of February 2020 Japan had tested 8,100 and confirmed 1,023 cases, while South Korea had tested 200,000 and confirmed 7,000 cases. Kami Masahiro of Japan’s Medical Governance Research Institute reckoned in early March that the published figures for Japan amounted just to the “tip of the iceberg.”64 The real figure is likely very much greater and an explosive leap in infection is highly possible. The Japanese media recounts many cases of people seeking but being unable to gain access to test facilities. While South Korea tends to rank well above Japan in international infection tables, in realistic terms the official Japanese figure of infected should be multiplied by approximately ten.

The crisis was widening and deepening, By March 2020, 62 countries or regions had imposed restrictions (such as mandatory self-isolation) on entry of Japanese people or people from Japan and other countries while Japan had imposed restrictions on the entry of people from 29 countries or regions.65 Even as Abe’s powers remained short of actual emergency, the ruling assumption on the part of the bureaucracy was that priority should attach to his Olympic dream and Japan should at all costs escape censure or criticism over its handling of the coronavirus matter and stick to the established Olympic schedule. Having gained the Olympics in September 2013 by (falsely) assuring the IOC that the Fukushima catastrophe had been resolved and was “under control,” in the early months of 2020 Abe seemed intent on conducting them at any cost, yielding only with extreme reluctance to the pleas of the IOC, President Trump, and prominent athletes for them to be caurried over.66

The tendency of the Abe “one strong”) state – evident in the Moritomo, Kake, casino, linear, and flower viewing affairs – of treating Prime Ministerial-favored projects as “national policy” might, if continued through the corona virus, have disastrous consequences. The New York Times wrote in early March of the Prime Minister who “made only brief appearances at strategy meetings, and spent his evenings wining and dining friends and cabinet ministers, appearing at parties even as the government called on people to avoid public gatherings.”67 That suggested a “one strong” leader whose strength was illusory.

7) Conclusion

During the three years from February 2017, when Moritomo and Kake first drew public attention, Abe has weathered more-or-less successfully the storm of successive scandals. As of the beginning of 2020 his support among the Japanese people was about the same as that of Donald Trump among the American, following the latter’s acquittal in Congressional impeachment proceedings. For both, it seemed that the hubris born of near absolute power fed a febrile atmosphere in which cronyism and corruption thrived. Both had their fingers in dubious pies, but while the one is globally notorious, the other is seen – outside Japan at least – as above suspicion.

If there is a hidden thread that ties together the parties to the series of Japanese scandals it might be the Nippon Kaigi organization. Virtually all parties, government and private sector and including Prime Minister and his wife, the Kagoikes, Kake Kotaro, the mayor of Imabari City, as well as virtually all members of Abe’s cabinet, were and are members or supporters. An inclination on the part of Nippon Kaigi members to help fellow believers in a post-conservative radical rightist or neo-Shinto cause can reasonably be assumed. Though the term is not commonly applied to the Japanese case, in major respects, including the cases discussed in this short paper, the Abe government has been practicing the politics of post-truth, in which those who hold power determine what is to be known as truth. The same Japan where Treasury officials would order the doctoring of official documents to help the government out of a predicament of its own making (Moritomo) and where the Prime Ministerial will was a key political consideration (Kake) also saw other revelations of official, high-level deception and obfuscation or data fixing.68

Looking back over the past three years, when support for the government dropped at the time of the Moritomo affair in June 2017 to a potentially critical level below 30 per cent, Abe was saved by the North Korean missile and nuclear tests that made it possible for him to shift public attention from scandals to security. In September that year, he seized the initiative, dissolved the parliament, and called a general election (October) in which he regained a dominant position in the Diet even if with much reduced trust or popularity. From the following year, circumstances again developed to his favor. He and his advisers could concentrate on stirring a “celebratory” mood, shifting public attention to public events marking the transition from Heisei to Reiwa and the imperial abdication and accession. As that phase passed in 2019, and even as the flower-viewing affair simmered and Abe’s explanations looked more and more dubious, in early 2020 he could hope that his star would rise again thanks to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. That the Games had to be postponed was an undoubted blow to that design but might yet be turned to his advantage. If in due course the summer Olympics are indeed carried out in July-August 2021 as a grand “recovery” event, that would potentially clear the way for his re-election in September 2021 to head his party, which would mean a fourth spell as Prime Minister. Leading the country through Coronavirus and Olympics over the coming year and a half would make it very difficult for critics and opponents to pursue his responsibility for the series of scandals that have marked his third term.

At time of writing, the coronavirus had certainly shaken the government and the personal standing of the Prime Minister but support levels seemed to be holding at around 40 per cent,69 even though three-quarters of the people disbelieve him and his government in relation to one or other scandal. It might mean that Abe is unlikely to be able to pursue his constitutional revision goal, but since the adoption of the security legislation of 2015 enabling Japanese forces to be committed to war if and when required by Washington, the US was no longer pressing for revision. It might therefore no longer be necessary.70 With no plausible alternative Prime Ministerial candidate on the horizon he might yet do as he had done in 2017, recover from the nadir.

However, the more successful Abe becomes at centralizing power in and around his office and crushing opponents or critics, the less democratic the country becomes, the more enemies he creates and the more potentially vulnerable he becomes to exposure. While maintaining the frame of a democratic state, Abe has presided over the consolidation of something quite different: an authoritarian, neo-Shinto ikkyo/sontakustate. Whether it would prove viable in the long term remains to be seen.

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Trump Mideast plan backs Nazi apartheid, not peace

Trump Mideast plan backs Israeli apartheid, not peace

By Joyce Chediac

Protesting Trump plan in Gaza. Photo: twitter.com/KhaledAbu Toameh.

The entire spectrum of Palestinian political and civil groups, from the Occupied Territories, to the diaspora to inside Israel, have rejected Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” and called for resistance against it. They are denouncing the so-called peace plan as annexation of Palestinian land, a declaration of war against Palestinian rights and a legitimization of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid.

Trump calls the plan a “deal,” but this was no agreement between two parties. Palestinian groups neither participated nor were consulted in the plan’s construction. No Palestinian demands have been addressed or included. The plan is unilateral, and reads like a wish list of the most rabid rightwing elements in the Israeli ruling establishment.

The Trump plan sounds the death knell to the two-state solution—the concept that a contiguous Palestinian state would be created alongside a majority Jewish state. While Trump claims he is offering the Palestinian people a state, even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, says the plan “will lead not to a Palestinian state, but to Israel taking full control of the entire West Bank.”

What the plan says

Trump’s plan calls for Jerusalem to be the undivided capital of Israel.

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Yet Trump’s plan allows Israel to annex all Israeli settlements that are spread throughout the West Bank, home to more than 2.5 million Palestinians.

The plan also allows Israel to annex the strategic Jordan valley. This, plus the settlement areas, comprise nearly a fourth of the West Bank. Once annexed what is left of Palestinian land will be entirely surrounded by Israeli territory.

The streets of all Palestinian cities, towns and villages, as well as the roads connecting them and the borders, will be under full Israeli control. Palestinian areas will be dissected by Israeli settlements that will remain as “enclaves” inside Palestinian territory and will be under full Israeli sovereignty. This means that Palestinian citizens of the future “state” could still be subjected to Israeli checkpoints–not just at the border between their state and Israel, but well inside their own state, between one town and the next.

Palestinian Israelis to be stripped of citizenship

The Trump plan also endorses the idea that large Arab towns in central Israel, clustered in an area known as “the Triangle,” where the inhabitants are Israeli citizens, will become part of the future Palestinian state because, it says, “many of the Arab Israeli citizens who live there define themselves as Palestinians.”

Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, tweeted that this is “a green light to revoke the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab citizens who live in northern Israel.”

Meanwhile, the 400,000 settlers living in-between Palestinian villages and towns within the future Palestinian “state,” and who define themselves as Israelis, will remain Israelis and enjoy full rights and benefits of Israeli citizenship.

The plan also states that, “There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.”

Plan deliberately sets unacceptable conditions

The plan sets conditions for the creation of this so-called “state” that are so harsh and insulting that no Palestinian group can accept them. For example, Palestinians can’t make complaints against Israel to the International Criminal Court. But the plan doesn’t offer the Palestinians any alternative arena for addressing abuses of their rights.

For Gaza to be included in any future peace agreement, it would have to be demilitarized and fall under the control of the Palestinian Authority or any other party that is recognized by Israel. Another condition is that the Palestinian Authority would have to disarm resistance organizations and demilitarize the Gaza Strip.

The plan asks for no concessions from Israel except for a temporary halt of new settlements.

The only part of the Trump plan that will assuredly be implemented is the annexation. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already announced that he will annex the Jordan Valley and large parts of the Israeli West Bank settlements.

Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace.

Palestinians, Jewish groups, regional allies denounce plan

Thousands of Palestinians have already demonstrated against the plan in the occupied territories. In Gaza, members of Fatah, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine marched together in protest. In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon took to the streets, burned pictures of Trump  and asserted their right to return to their homes in Palestine.

Palestinian politicians, activists and community leaders, Jewish progressives and regional allies of the Palestinian people have have pledged to fight the plan which Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called “nothing but a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Washington’s deal “the final phase of the Balfour Declaration,” in which Britain granted land of the indigenous Palestinian people to the European colonialist Zionist movement in 1917, and referred to Palestinians who lived there dismissively as “existing non-Jewish communities.” Abbas held an unprecedented emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, which included West Bank-based officials from Hamas, and which pledged to “resist the deal in all its forms.”

‘Open war’ on Palestinians

PLO official, Wasel Abu Yusef, said Trump’s plan was tantamount to “waging open war” on the Palestinians.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denounced the plan as a “Zionist-American plot to liquidate the Palestinian issue.” He called on the PA leadership to halt security coordination with Israel in the West Bank.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine condemned the plan as a “new conspiracy against the Palestinian people and their cause” and called for a popular uprising against the U.S. and Israel.

Yusef al-Hasayneh of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the U.S. administration was “acting with a mentality of piracy, legalizing the theft of the land of Palestine and its holy sites.”

The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, calls it a “war plan” that “enshrines settler colonialism and Zionism.” In addition to hitting the U.S. and Israeli governments, this group called out Arab reactionary regimes that are supporting this plan. “Trump and Netanyahu boasted of the presence of the ambassadors of Bahrain, Oman and the UAE [United Arab Emerates] at the press conference, the latest reflection of the involvement of these reactionary regimes and their kings and princes not only in slaughtering the people of Yemen but in wholeheartedly siding with their imperialist sponsors to attack the Palestinian cause, at the heart of any movement for Arab liberation.” Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar also supported the plan designed to undercut the Palestinian struggle.

Regional implications of plan

Lebanon’s Hezbollah called the plan a “deal of shame,” that would have negative consequences on the region’s future. This group also pointed out that the plan would not have happened without the “complicity and betrayal” of several Arab states.

Yemen’s Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said Trump’s plan was “blatant U.S. aggression on Palestine” and “a deal funded by Saudi [Arabia] and the UAE [United Arab Emirates] to cement Israeli occupation.” Large demonstrations are planned in Yemen opposing the plan and supporting Palestinian rights.

Iran’s foreign ministry said the proposal was not the “deal of the century” but the “treason of the century” and bound to fail.

South Africans hit Israeli apartheid

In South Africa, Mandela Mandela, Nelson’s Mandela’s grandson, and the group Boycot Divest Sanction South Africa, condemned the plan. Mandela called it a ‘hoax…designed to justify the continued illegal occupation and expansion of Apartheid Israel settlements.”

BDS South Africa added, “we painfully recall how Apartheid South Africa tried to impose its own plan during the 1980s where white people would own South Africa and the indigenous Black South Africans needed to be happy with small enclaves called Bantustans. We rejected this then in Apartheid South Africa and we, today, join those in rejecting it in Palestine-Israel.”

Jewish opposition to the plan

The Israeli peace organization B’Tselem has compared the Donald Trump U.S. plan to Swiss cheese. In their press statement from today, they explain: “The cheese is being offered to the Israelis and the holes to the Palestinians.”

Miko Peled, a well-known Israeli-American backer of Palestinian rights, tweeted that the plan was “Just like the Balfour declaration, one white racist giving another white racist land that belongs to someone else.”

The anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace said, “We know that no peace can come without justice for Palestinians, and that means building and supporting a broad-based effort that allows for self-determination and equality.”

If Not Now, an U.S.–based anti-occupation Jewish group, is circulating a petition opposing the plan.”Trump’s entire strategy has been to disenfranchise Palestinians and deny their rights, their agency, and even their identity,” the petition says.

Democratic Party complicity

Several U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidates, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have criticized Trump’s plan. Democratic Party opposition in the Middle East is often based upon differing with the approach of the Republicans rather than on substance. While changes of views are always welcome, none of these seasoned politicians has supported Palestinian self-determination. Over the course of Israel’s existence, the Democratic Party has, in fact, been the biggest cheerleader for the repressive Zionist state, and a major funder of the military apparatus used by Israel to attack the Palestinians and other Arab people, and has been complicit in Israel’s gradual undermining of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Palestinians will continue the struggle

The Palestinian people have withstood many imperialist-Zionist attacks, including the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Nakba of 1948, the occupation of the rest of historic Palestine in 1967, and repeated arrests, bombings, assaults and displacement. They have never given up their struggle to regain their national rights. As serious as this attack is, it will not stop the struggle either. Their fight  needs and deserves the unconditional support of all who value freedom and equality.

In the words of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, a group of activist Palestinians living in the U.S.,“The Palestinian people will continue to resist, by any and all means necessary, U.S./Zionist plans for the liquidation of our rights. And the international community will continue to organize BDS campaigns across the world and isolate Israel as the criminal, apartheid state that it is.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, JapanComments Off on Trump Mideast plan backs Nazi apartheid, not peace

The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives.

By Washington’s Blog

Global Research,

Relevant article selected from the GR archive, first published on Washington Blog and Global Research in October 2012.

Atomic Weapons Were Not Needed to End the War or Save Lives

Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end WWII and save both American and Japanese lives.

But most of the top American military officials at the time said otherwise.

The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, assigned by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan, produced a report in July of 1946 that concluded (52-56):

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

General (and later president) Dwight Eisenhower – then Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces, and the officer who created most of America’s WWII military plans for Europe and Japan – said:

The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.

Newsweek, 11/11/63, Ike on Ike

Eisenhower also noted (pg. 380):

In [July] 1945… Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. …the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude….

Admiral William Leahy – the highest ranking member of the U.S. military from 1942 until retiring in 1949, who was the first de facto Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and who was at the center of all major American military decisions in World War II – wrote (pg. 441):

It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

General Douglas MacArthur agreed (pg. 65, 70-71):

MacArthur’s views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed …. When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.

Moreover (pg. 512):

The Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed] that Japan surrender unconditionally or face ‘prompt and utter destruction.’ MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese would never renounce their emperor, and that without him an orderly transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people would never submit to Allied occupation unless he ordered it. Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and the condition was a continuation of the imperial reign. Had the General’s advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary.

Similarly, Assistant Secretary of War John McLoy noted (pg. 500):

I have always felt that if, in our ultimatum to the Japanese government issued from Potsdam [in July 1945], we had referred to the retention of the emperor as a constitutional monarch and had made some reference to the reasonable accessibility of raw materials to the future Japanese government, it would have been accepted. Indeed, I believe that even in the form it was delivered, there was some disposition on the part of the Japanese to give it favorable consideration. When the war was over I arrived at this conclusion after talking with a number of Japanese officials who had been closely associated with the decision of the then Japanese government, to reject the ultimatum, as it was presented. I believe we missed the opportunity of effecting a Japanese surrender, completely satisfactory to us, without the necessity of dropping the bombs.

Under Secretary of the Navy Ralph Bird said:

I think that the Japanese were ready for peace, and they already had approached the Russians and, I think, the Swiss. And that suggestion of [giving] a warning [of the atomic bomb] was a face-saving proposition for them, and one that they could have readily accepted.

***

In my opinion, the Japanese war was really won before we ever used the atom bomb. Thus, it wouldn’t have been necessary for us to disclose our nuclear position and stimulate the Russians to develop the same thing much more rapidly than they would have if we had not dropped the bomb.

War Was Really Won Before We Used A-Bomb, U.S. News and World Report, 8/15/60, pg. 73-75.

He also noted (pg. 144-145, 324):

It definitely seemed to me that the Japanese were becoming weaker and weaker. They were surrounded by the Navy. They couldn’t get any imports and they couldn’t export anything. Naturally, as time went on and the war developed in our favor it was quite logical to hope and expect that with the proper kind of a warning the Japanese would then be in a position to make peace, which would have made it unnecessary for us to drop the bomb and have had to bring Russia in.

General Curtis LeMay, the tough cigar-smoking Army Air Force “hawk,” stated publicly shortly before the nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan:

The war would have been over in two weeks. . . . The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.

The Vice Chairman of the U.S. Bombing Survey Paul Nitze wrote (pg. 36-37, 44-45):

[I] concluded that even without the atomic bomb, Japan was likely to surrender in a matter of months. My own view was that Japan would capitulate by November 1945.

***

Even without the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it seemed highly unlikely, given what we found to have been the mood of the Japanese government, that a U.S. invasion of the islands [scheduled for November 1, 1945] would have been necessary.

Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence Ellis Zacharias wrote:

Just when the Japanese were ready to capitulate, we went ahead and introduced to the world the most devastating weapon it had ever seen and, in effect, gave the go-ahead to Russia to swarm over Eastern Asia.

Washington decided that Japan had been given its chance and now it was time to use the A-bomb.

I submit that it was the wrong decision. It was wrong on strategic grounds. And it was wrong on humanitarian grounds.

Ellis Zacharias, How We Bungled the Japanese Surrender, Look, 6/6/50, pg. 19-21.

Brigadier General Carter Clarke – the military intelligence officer in charge of preparing summaries of intercepted Japanese cables for President Truman and his advisors – said (pg. 359):

When we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.

Many other high-level military officers concurred. For example:

The commander in chief of the U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, Ernest J. King, stated that the naval blockade and prior bombing of Japan in March of 1945, had rendered the Japanese helpless and that the use of the atomic bomb was both unnecessary and immoral. Also, the opinion of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was reported to have said in a press conference on September 22, 1945, that “The Admiral took the opportunity of adding his voice to those insisting that Japan had been defeated before the atomic bombing and Russia’s entry into the war.” In a subsequent speech at the Washington Monument on October 5, 1945, Admiral Nimitz stated “The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war.” It was learned also that on or about July 20, 1945, General Eisenhower had urged Truman, in a personal visit, not to use the atomic bomb. Eisenhower’s assessment was “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing . . . to use the atomic bomb, to kill and terrorize civilians, without even attempting [negotiations], was a double crime.” Eisenhower also stated that it wasn’t necessary for Truman to “succumb” to [the tiny handful of people putting pressure on the president to drop atom bombs on Japan.]

British officers were of the same mind. For example, General Sir Hastings Ismay, Chief of Staff to the British Minister of Defence, said to Prime Minister Churchill that “when Russia came into the war against Japan, the Japanese would probably wish to get out on almost any terms short of the dethronement of the Emperor.”

On hearing that the atomic test was successful, Ismay’s private reaction was one of “revulsion.”

Why Were Bombs Dropped on Populated Cities Without Military Value?

Even military officers who favored use of nuclear weapons mainly favored using them on unpopulated areas or Japanese military targets … not cities.

For example, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy Lewis Strauss proposed to Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal that a non-lethal demonstration of atomic weapons would be enough to convince the Japanese to surrender … and the Navy Secretary agreed (pg. 145, 325):

I proposed to Secretary Forrestal that the weapon should be demonstrated before it was used. Primarily it was because it was clear to a number of people, myself among them, that the war was very nearly over. The Japanese were nearly ready to capitulate… My proposal to the Secretary was that the weapon should be demonstrated over some area accessible to Japanese observers and where its effects would be dramatic. I remember suggesting that a satisfactory place for such a demonstration would be a large forest of cryptomeria trees not far from Tokyo. The cryptomeria tree is the Japanese version of our redwood… I anticipated that a bomb detonated at a suitable height above such a forest… would lay the trees out in windrows from the center of the explosion in all directions as though they were matchsticks, and, of course, set them afire in the center. It seemed to me that a demonstration of this sort would prove to the Japanese that we could destroy any of their cities at will… Secretary Forrestal agreed wholeheartedly with the recommendation

It seemed to me that such a weapon was not necessary to bring the war to a successful conclusion, that once used it would find its way into the armaments of the world…

General George Marshall agreed:

Contemporary documents show that Marshall felt “these weapons might first be used against straight military objectives such as a large naval installation and then if no complete result was derived from the effect of that, he thought we ought to designate a number of large manufacturing areas from which the people would be warned to leave–telling the Japanese that we intend to destroy such centers….”

As the document concerning Marshall’s views suggests, the question of whether the use of the atomic bomb was justified turns … on whether the bombs had to be used against a largely civilian target rather than a strictly military target—which, in fact, was the explicit choice since although there were Japanese troops in the cities, neither Hiroshima nor Nagasaki was deemed militarily vital by U.S. planners. (This is one of the reasons neither had been heavily bombed up to this point in the war.) Moreover, targeting [at Hiroshima and Nagasaki] was aimed explicitly on non-military facilities surrounded by workers’ homes.

Historians Agree that the Bomb Wasn’t Needed

Historians agree that nuclear weapons did not need to be used to stop the war or save lives.

As historian Doug Long notes:

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission historian J. Samuel Walker has studied the history of research on the decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan. In his conclusion he writes, “The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan and to end the war within a relatively short time. It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisors knew it.” (J. Samuel Walker, The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update, Diplomatic History, Winter 1990, pg. 110).

Politicians Agreed

Many high-level politicians agreed. For example, Herbert Hoover said (pg. 142):

The Japanese were prepared to negotiate all the way from February 1945…up to and before the time the atomic bombs were dropped; …if such leads had been followed up, there would have been no occasion to drop the [atomic] bombs.

Under Secretary of State Joseph Grew noted (pg. 29-32):

In the light of available evidence I myself and others felt that if such a categorical statement about the [retention of the] dynasty had been issued in May, 1945, the surrender-minded elements in the [Japanese] Government might well have been afforded by such a statement a valid reason and the necessary strength to come to an early clearcut decision.

If surrender could have been brought about in May, 1945, or even in June or July, before the entrance of Soviet Russia into the [Pacific] war and the use of the atomic bomb, the world would have been the gainer.

Why Then Were Atom Bombs Dropped on Japan?

If dropping nuclear bombs was unnecessary to end the war or to save lives, why was the decision to drop them made? Especially over the objections of so many top military and political figures?

One theory is that scientists like to play with their toys:

On September 9, 1945, Admiral William F. Halsey, commander of the Third Fleet, was publicly quoted extensively as stating that the atomic bomb was used because the scientists had a “toy and they wanted to try it out . . . .” He further stated, “The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment . . . . It was a mistake to ever drop it.”

However, most of the Manhattan Project scientists who developed the atom bomb were opposed to using it on Japan.

Albert Einstein – an important catalyst for the development of the atom bomb (but not directly connected with the Manhattan Project) – said differently:

“A great majority of scientists were opposed to the sudden employment of the atom bomb.” In Einstein’s judgment, the dropping of the bomb was a political – diplomatic decision rather than a military or scientific decision.

Indeed, some of the Manhattan Project scientists wrote directly to the secretary of defense in 1945 to try to dissuade him from dropping the bomb:

We believe that these considerations make the use of nuclear bombs for an early, unannounced attack against Japan inadvisable. If the United States would be the first to release this new means of indiscriminate destruction upon mankind, she would sacrifice public support throughout the world, precipitate the race of armaments, and prejudice the possibility of reaching an international agreement on the future control of such weapons.

Political and Social Problems, Manhattan Engineer District Records, Harrison-Bundy files, folder # 76, National Archives (also contained in: Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed, 1987 edition, pg. 323-333).

The scientists questioned the ability of destroying Japanese cities with atomic bombs to bring surrender when destroying Japanese cities with conventional bombs had not done so, and – like some of the military officers quoted above – recommended a demonstration of the atomic bomb for Japan in an unpopulated area.

The Real Explanation?

History.com notes:

In the years since the two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, a number of historians have suggested that the weapons had a two-pronged objective …. It has been suggested that the second objective was to demonstrate the new weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union. By August 1945, relations between the Soviet Union and the United States had deteriorated badly. The Potsdam Conference between U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Russian leader Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill (before being replaced by Clement Attlee) ended just four days before the bombing of Hiroshima. The meeting was marked by recriminations and suspicion between the Americans and Soviets. Russian armies were occupying most of Eastern Europe. Truman and many of his advisers hoped that the U.S. atomic monopoly might offer diplomatic leverage with the Soviets. In this fashion, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan can be seen as the first shot of the Cold War.

New Scientist reported in 2005:

The US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was meant to kick-start the Cold War rather than end the Second World War, according to two nuclear historians who say they have new evidence backing the controversial theory.

Causing a fission reaction in several kilograms of uranium and plutonium and killing over 200,000 people 60 years ago was done more to impress the Soviet Union than to cow Japan, they say. And the US President who took the decision, Harry Truman, was culpable, they add.

“He knew he was beginning the process of annihilation of the species,” says Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University in Washington DC, US. “It was not just a war crime; it was a crime against humanity.”

***

[The conventional explanation of using the bombs to end the war and save lives] is disputed by Kuznick and Mark Selden, a historian from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, US.

***

New studies of the US, Japanese and Soviet diplomatic archives suggest that Truman’s main motive was to limit Soviet expansion in Asia, Kuznick claims. Japan surrendered because the Soviet Union began an invasion a few days after the Hiroshima bombing, not because of the atomic bombs themselves, he says.

According to an account by Walter Brown, assistant to then-US secretary of state James Byrnes, Truman agreed at a meeting three days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima that Japan was “looking for peace”. Truman was told by his army generals, Douglas Macarthur and Dwight Eisenhower, and his naval chief of staff, William Leahy, that there was no military need to use the bomb.

“Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war in Japan,” says Selden.

John Pilger points out:

The US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US air force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. He later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb”. His foreign policy colleagues were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.” The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

We’ll give the last word to University of Maryland professor of political economy – and former Legislative Director in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and Special Assistant in the Department of State – Gar Alperovitz:

Though most Americans are unaware of the fact, increasing numbers of historians now recognize the United States did not need to use the atomic bomb to end the war against Japan in 1945. Moreover, this essential judgment was expressed by the vast majority of top American military leaders in all three services in the years after the war ended: Army, Navy and Army Air Force. Nor was this the judgment of “liberals,” as is sometimes thought today. In fact, leading conservatives were far more outspoken in challenging the decision as unjustified and immoral than American liberals in the years following World War II.

***

Instead [of allowing other options to end the war, such as letting the Soviets attack Japan with ground forces], the United States rushed to use two atomic bombs at almost exactly the time that an August 8 Soviet attack had originally been scheduled: Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. The timing itself has obviously raised questions among many historians. The available evidence, though not conclusive, strongly suggests that the atomic bombs may well have been used in part because American leaders “preferred”—as Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Martin Sherwin has put it—to end the war with the bombs rather than the Soviet attack. Impressing the Soviets during the early diplomatic sparring that ultimately became the Cold War also appears likely to have been a significant factor.

***

The most illuminating perspective, however, comes from top World War II American military leaders. The conventional wisdom that the atomic bomb saved a million lives is so widespread that … most Americans haven’t paused to ponder something rather striking to anyone seriously concerned with the issue: Not only did most top U.S. military leaders think the bombings were unnecessary and unjustified, many were morally offended by what they regarded as the unnecessary destruction of Japanese cities and what were essentially noncombat populations. Moreover, they spoke about it quite openly and publicly.

***

Shortly before his death General George C. Marshall quietly defended the decision, but for the most part he is on record as repeatedly saying that it was not a military decision, but rather a political one.

Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a War Crime and a Crime Against Humanity?

Posted in USA, JapanComments Off on The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives.

Japan – Ending a War and Saving Lives?

By Larry Romanoff

A couple of years ago an American writer named Greg Mitchell wrote an informative book on the huge cover-up orchestrated by the US government on the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan, and the censorship of the first Hollywood movie on the subject. (1) The government was in possession of much live film footage shot by the US military of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Mitchell says would have shocked viewers, with ghostlike ruins and babies with burned faces. He includes many of these original photos in his book, and details the extensive efforts to hide the facts and evidence of the use of the atomic bombs and the tapestry of lies created after the fact to justify this atrocity and present it as a necessary evil.The Hollywood movie arose because the film industry wanted to warn the people of the world about the coming dangers of a nuclear arms race, Mitchell claiming the early scripts presented a shocking picture that would definitely have provoked disarmament, but the eventual Hollywood version of the official narrative was that the bomb was absolutely necessary to end the war and save American lives.He writes that as the scripts were increasingly revised the bombing became not only justifiable but even admirable. Robert Oppenheimer, the prominent Jewish physicist primarily responsible for the development of the bomb, was assured that in the movie his character would display “humility” and “a love of mankind”. But that’s not quite how it was. “At the first successful detonation of an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, “Oppenheimer was beside himself at the spectacle. He shrieked, “I am become Death, the Destroyer of worlds.” (2)

The movie script was further altered to show American president Truman agonising over the decision when in truth he proudly boasted that he never lost any sleep over it, and further wrote in a letter to a critic, “I have no qualms about it whatever”. (3)

Hollywood had begun the creation of yet another myth of American history. From Mitchell’s notes, even minor details in the movie were altered to make the bombing appear justified. Nuclear radiation fallout was dismissed as trivial, and fabricated scenes were inserted to depict the American bombers as being heavily bombarded with flak (untrue) to make the attack appear more courageous.

Claims were fabricated that the use of the atomic bombs would shorten the war by a year, which was 100% false since the Japanese had already repeatedly offered to surrender, as well as claims that use of the atomic bomb would save at least half a million American lives, also patently untrue. In fact, the bombings saved no American lives since it was already abundantly clear that no invasion of Japan would be necessary to effect a surrender, and in fact the prospect of a physical invasion was never even on the table. But the bombings did needlessly claim at least an additional nearly one million Japanese lives, even though Wikipedia states this at little over 100,000.Another myth created by Hollywood was that the targets – Hiroshima and Nagasaki – had been chosen for their military value, but in truth both were entirely civilian cities and were chosen only because they hadn’t been bombed before and could clearly demonstrate the destructive power of this new weapon.

The final movie was presented as “basically a true story” to the countless Americans who saw it. The New York Times called it a “creditable re-enactment”, and praised its handling of the moral issues of a “necessary evil”. A popular news magazine praised its “aura of authenticity and special historical significance”. And the “humanitarian bombing” of Hiroshima entered American mythology as factual American history. But that’s not how it was.

Ellsworth Torrey Carrington, in “Reflections of a Hiroshima Pilot” (4), quoted the second B-29 pilot as saying, “After the first bomb was dropped, the atom bomb command was very fearful that Japan might surrender before we could drop the second bomb, so our people worked around the clock, 24-hours-a-day to avoid such a misfortune.” One of the greatest lies fabricated for the movie was the story of US President Truman proclaiming that prior to the actual bombings the US would drop leaflets over Japan to warn the population of “what is coming” as a means to “save lives”. Harrison Brown, who had worked on the bomb, called this fiction of warning leaflets “the most horrible falsification of history”. Wikipedia, lying as always, tells us “Various sources give conflicting information about when the last leaflets were dropped on Hiroshima prior to the atomic bomb.” But in fact no leaflets were dropped on Hiroshima prior to the bombing on August 6.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the original targets for the first atomic bombs. Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves is generally blamed for the suggestion to bomb Kyoto, but it appears well-documented that it was Bernard Baruch who persistently demanded Kyoto be destroyed because of its cultural and historical value to the Japanese people, its destruction opening a wound that would never heal. Henry Stimson, then US Secretary of War, refused to accept Kyoto as a target for that same reason, but was over-ruled. However, Kyoto was protected by Providence and a dense cloud cover that prevented the American bombers from locating it with sufficient accuracy, leaving them to proceed to their alternates.

In May of 1945, several months before the atomic bombs were ready, the self-named “Masters of the Universe” held a meeting at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco to discuss the ending of the war in the Pacific. The issue was that Japan was already suing for peace, and the collective opinion of these gentlemen was, according to Edward Stettinius, then Secretary of State, “We have already lost Germany. If Japan bows out, we will not have a live population on which to test the bomb … our entire postwar program depends on terrifying the world with the atomic bomb … we are hoping for a million tally in Japan. But if they surrender, we won’t have anything.” The advice of John Foster Dulles was “Then you have to keep them in the war until the bomb is ready. That is no problem. Unconditional surrender.” Stettinius replied, “They won’t agree to that. They are sworn to protect the Emperor.” Dulles’ response: “Exactly. Keep Japan in the war another three months, and we can use the bomb on their cities. We will end this war with the naked fear of all the peoples of the world, who will then bow to our will.” (5)

A great many Americans today are fond of justifying their nation’s use of nuclear weapons in Japan by telling us it shortened the war, fully confident their moral superiority remains intact. But in truth, the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki mostly as a “once in a lifetime chance” to witness the effects of nuclear blasts on a human population. It is not widely known that the US dropped two different types of bombs – uranium and plutonium – onto the two cities, these bombings being live laboratory experiments to determine the differences in yield and effect between the two. The US Department of Energy still lists these explosions as “tests”.After the bombings, there was an almost obscene eagerness on the part of the Americans to get to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to ‘examine and catalog’ the results of their new monstrosity. In reviewing the reports of the American presence in these two cities after the blasts, one cannot escape the conclusion that these so-called ‘scientists’ were almost as giddy as schoolboys in viewing their masterpiece of war, and too morally deformed to even consider the horror they had perpetrated.Obama and the Bombing of Hiroshima

When American forces entered and occupied the two cities immediately after the bombings, their first order was a complete black-out of information and a ban on the publication of any reports of the destruction and its effects, maintaining a totally-controlled monopoly on information. Japanese journalists and cameramen were prohibited from any reporting, and threatened with court-martials and execution if they dared disobey. All books and written accounts of the bombings and their aftermath were censored and most often confiscated and destroyed by the Americans. Even the need to give treatment to the victims was forbidden to be reported in Japan, and consequently the Japanese had virtually no information of the conditions. All physicians in Japan were forbidden to communicate with each other or to exchange information on the human devastation. “Their records, clinical research and other data were suppressed and confiscated. The US military also confiscated all samples of damaged tissue, burned and irradiated skin, blood and internal organs, from both dead and living victims.” All information was totally suppressed.

Further, US officials forced the Japanese government to refuse any medical aid offered by the International Red Cross or other agencies because, in the words of one author, “If the laboratory animal were cured, it would be useless for scientific medical research”. The Americans also did all possible to prevent any treatment being given to the victims. Their stated policy was, “As far as medical aid is concerned, the less the better”. Japanese doctors, dealing with humanity’s first nuclear holocaust, were desperate to assist the victims and discover treatments or cures, but were rebuffed by the Americans and forbidden to attempt treatment. The wounded victims of history’s first nuclear explosions were true guinea pigs meant only for observation.

There was another important but never-discussed reason for the choice to drop atomic bombs. The Americans had been conducting high-level bombing raids on Japan for some time and, in spite of great success, were nevertheless disappointed in the overall results. We are familiar with the Americans’ fire-bombing of Dresden in Germany and their apparent delight in the results of that travesty, but American history has quietly buried, and Americans have never had to confront, the fact that the US conducted a similar and long-running campaign against Japan.

At a meeting on April 27, 1945, the so-called “Target Committee” met at the Pentagon to discuss the list of prospective Japanese cities for use of the atomic bomb. Tokyo was eliminated because, in the words of the committee, it was “now practically all bombed and burned out and is practically rubble with only the palace grounds left standing”. The members further discussed the fact that there were few undamaged cities remaining in Japan for a demonstration of the power of their new atomic weapon, noting that their policy for a year had been one of “systematically [fire-] bombing out [cities] with the prime purpose in mind of not leaving one stone lying on the other.”

US General Curtis LeMay, one of history’s most accomplished pathological killers, had learned of the fire-bombing of Dresden and wanted to conduct his own genocide on a tapestry that offered far more potential than a single German city. Accordingly, he conducted an intense year-long campaign of extermination against the people of Japan. For an entire year, the Americans waged a fire-bombing campaign that eventually included nearly 100 Japanese cities, devastating Japan’s fragile wood-and-paper-constructed communities. This campaign killed exponentially more civilians than we are told about for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the same Curtis LeMay who would boast only a few years later that he had carpet-bombed and killed as much as 40% of the civilian population of North Korea – for no reason whatever.

The prior high-altitude bombing attacks on Japanese cities were considered by the Americans to be “ineffective”, so LeMay shifted to night raids using incendiary explosives and ordered his bombers to fly at very low altitudes (500 feet) to ensure destruction of Japan’s vulnerable wood-and-paper buildings, and of course to ensure destruction of the civilian population residing in them. It was his judgment that the night attacks, blanket bombing raids on civilians, were an appropriate measure to multiply both the destruction and the civilian terror. By that time, Japanese air defenses were nonexistent and no useful military targets remained; the Americans were simply “pacifying” a helpless civilian population.

In the most celebrated case, “Operation Meetinghouse”, US bombers conducted a night raid on Tokyo that destroyed 50 square Kms of the city. The downtown Tokyo suburb of Shitamachi had been targeted as the center of this raid because the area contained the highest civilian population density of any city in the world at the time, with some 750,000 people living in the easily-flammable wood-frame buildings in that district. LeMay wanted to conduct an “experiment” in the effects of firebombing by setting ablaze this virtual paper city. Just after midnight, 334 massive B-29 Superfortress bombers flying at an altitude of only 150 meters, carried out an intense three-hour raid that dropped a half-million M-69 incendiary bombs. These incendiary devices, as with Dresden, created an immense firestorm fanned by winds of 50 Kms per hour that totally razed the Shitamachi district and spread flames throughout the remainder of the city, destroying almost 50 square Kms of Tokyo.

The B-29 bombers for these extermination raids were carrying a mixture of incendiary explosives that included napalm infused with white phosphorus, perhaps the most vicious and immoral of all weapons ever used on civilian populations, this contribution to humanity having been created and developed by Harvard University. The incendiaries produced firestorms similar to those in Hamburg, Germany, two years prior, and that in Dresden only a month earlier. Temperatures on the ground in Tokyo reached 1,800 degrees in some places. Survivors’ accounts tell of women running through the streets with burning babies strapped to their backs, of people leaping into swimming pools to try to escape the flames only to be boiled alive. In his book, “War Without Mercy”, John Dower wrote “Canals boiled, metal melted and buildings and human beings burst spontaneously into flames”. About 65% of Tokyo’s commercial area, and about 20% of its industry, was destroyed. Almost 300,000 buildings burned to the ground in Tokyo alone. This was the single deadliest air raid of the Second World War. Few escaped the inferno.

There were widespread documented reports that during the three hours of the attack there were such great blood-red mists and an overwhelming stench of burning human flesh rising into the air and filling the cockpits of the low-flying American bombers, that the crews were forced to don their oxygen masks to keep them from vomiting. Such was the human carnage. This was genocide by any measure, and yet the entire sordid mess has been excised from all US history books. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s aide, Brigadier Gen. Bonner Fellers, called LeMay’s bombing of Tokyo “one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all history”, but LeMay was proud of his accomplishment in Japan, as he would later be in Korea, boasting that he successfully “scorched and boiled and baked to death well over half a million Japanese civilians, perhaps nearly a million”, in that one event in Tokyo alone. After the success of this first attack, LeMay was determined to continue, stating his intention to have Tokyo entirely “burned down – wiped right off the map”, and proceeded to carry out his homicidal determination with repeated fire-bombings covering an increasingly greater area of Japan. The incendiary bombs ignited unimaginable firestorms in these cities, storms that created updrafts so intense that the bombers were sometimes carried upwards to altitudes of as much as 10,000 feet. These genocidal raids were so successful that the US was running out of cities to bomb, Air Force executives complaining that few remaining cities were worth the attention of even 50 bombers while they could put up at least 450 at one time. “The totality of the devastation in Japan was extraordinary, and this was matched by the near-totality of Japan’s defencelessness.”

But Tokyo was only one of many cities fire-bombed by LeMay and the Americans. In total, almost 100 Japanese cities and their civilian populations suffered the same fate, about 40 of Japan’s major cities experiencing destruction of 50% to almost 100%, and dozens of others between 25% and 50%, and leaving at least 30% of the Japanese population homeless by the end of the war. This year-long orgy of hate and killing “brought the mass incineration of civilians to a new level in a conflict already characterized by unprecedented bloodshed”.

Inexplicably, US-supplied population statistics suggest the death toll from all this incendiary bombing was virtually nil, Japan’s pre-war population listed at 73 million and post-war at 72 million. (Oct 1940 – 73.000 million; Oct 1945 – 71.999 Million). Wikipedia is one source of these nonsense statistics, but there are many others. In any case, we need only think. In addition to the usual casualties of war, a full year of intense fire-bombing of almost 100 cities, with destruction rates averaging 50%, then topped off with two atomic bombs, will produce casualties greater in number than zero.

There have been some mass adjustments made to Japan’s population statistics for the period immediately before and during World War Two, since in comparisons of census figures, civic population numbers and fatality counts, very little makes sense. The Americans, and the Japanese at one point, claimed the death toll from the Tokyo fire-bombing at as little as 35,000, which is prima facie nonsense since the Shitamachi area alone contained more than twenty times this number and was destroyed so completely – and so rapidly – the population could not possibly have escaped. I have taken the trouble to extract from the Japanese government’s prior census figures by city and, from this, the population of the city of Tokyo shows an almost 60% reduction between 1940 and 1945, which is about what one would expect: Oct 1944: 6,558,161; Oct 1945: 2,777,010. These figures suggest a death toll of almost four million, most of whom would have necessarily been direct victims of the firebombing. The first fire-bombing destroyed about 50 square kilometers (about 20 square miles) of Tokyo, but LeMay carried out many subsequent raids on successive nights that finally brought the total devastated area of Tokyo to more than 150 square kilometers or almost 60 square miles. With the fierce winds of up to 100 mph created near the center of the firestorm and a total inability to fight fires of this magnitude, and given that the relatively small Shitamachi area alone contained about 750,000 people and constituted only about 10% of the area the Americans fire-bombed, death claims of 35,000 are ridiculous.

From a comparison of widely published and presumably accurate prior census figures available for 40 of Japan’s major cities, the population differential between the two above dates produces a reduction in total population of almost 50%, from about 19,750,000 to 10,500,000, which is again what would be expected and which indicates around ten million deaths resulting primarily from the fire-bombing in these 40 cities alone. Various historians and political scientists have offered different explanations as to why both the Americans and the Japanese would have been eager to mask the true casualty figures, but the reasons are mostly obvious. The Americans were desperate to obliterate evidence of a great many of their crimes during the Second World War, and they totally controlled the post-war media in both Germany and Japan, eliminating public access to accurate information. And, as with the Philippines, Indonesia, and other nations victimised by US military massacres, the Americans destroyed and re-wrote those nations’ history books to make the public ignorance permanent. Naturally, this information has also evaporated from the historical record, the world no longer aware that the US is one of the great book-burners and historical revisionists of all time. I would remind you here of Indonesian historian Bonnie Triyana, who wrote “Ours is an oblivious society. For nearly 50 years nobody has ever taught us what really happened in 1965. Almost nobody knows that there were millions killed”.

This exposure of buried history is unlikely to reveal much sympathy for the Japanese, given their own savage and pathological conduct during that same war, but this story is not about the Japanese; it is about the Americans. It is yet one more revelation of American bloodlust, of not only a willingness but an eagerness to deliberately target civilian populations with an actual intent to either exterminate or at least savagely deplete.

The fire-bombing of Japan is only one chapter of a book written over more than 200 years. It was preceded by Germany and other similar chapters and would soon be followed by Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and many others. For all of their history, the Americans have regularly engaged in literal orgies of slaughter of civilian populations in circumstances entirely bereft of cause, killing for the pleasure of killing. From the first landing of European settlers in the New World, the invaders, led by Christopher Columbus, exterminated 125 million people for the sheer joy of killing, making extinct the entire Inca, Aztec and Maya civilisations as well as 90% of North American aboriginals. Americans have carried on this tradition ever since, making the world safe for democracy by exterminating its population.

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