Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Three reasons why modern history is lost in Japan

 I think where Japan gets this wrong is by not educating the younger generations of what happened between 1900 and 1945. All Japanese know of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but little else.

There are three aspects to the lack of modern history teaching in Japan.

First, Japanese education is not focused on injecting hatred.  For example, as Nick says, every student in Japan knows Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But the education does not stretch to the fact that mass bombing aiming massacre of civilians are war crimes which requires punishment.  If this is just like Korean style education (North and South), Japanese students will be crammed with hatred against the war crimes committed by Americans and there will be suicide bombers in Washington.  However, that does not happen in Japan.  Students in Japan were not told that ROK invaded Takeshima during the occupation era, when US was responsible for the defense of Japan.  Again, Japan does not stress retaliation or use of force.  What Japan does is to endlessly persuade ROK to settle the issue in International Court, which ROK refuses every year.  You might prefer Korean style indoctrination of hate.  In Japan, thought-police style education is not generally liked.

Second, the real black box of history teaching in Japan is 1955-2009, LDP era.  Thanks to GHQ, most of important prewar documents were disclosed.  Under LDP one party rule, critical information has been kept secret, while SPJ/SDP maintained the other side of fantasy.  There is no adequate freedom of information act yet, and even though DPJ is trying (Okinawa and nuclear bombs), the effort is hardly it systematic.  For example, Kantei Kimitsuhi (secret discretionary budget) has been suspected to be used for political purposes for a long time, but DPJ (Hirano Hirofumi, to be exact) has no intention of pursuing the secret.  There are numerous issues still to be disclosed: Did CIA illegally fund Kishi Nobusuke (Most likely so, according to US side documents); Did Nakasone Yasuhiro receive money from Boeing when JSDF purchased P3C? (the other side of Rockheed corruption involving Tanaka Kakuei).  Without basic records, the consistent narrative is very difficult. 

Third, There are fundamental flaws in Constitution. The Article 9 of Constitution says no military is allowed, and Japan has JSDF.  Historically speaking, IJA was totally destroyed at first.  New Constitution was written by GHQ, and ratified by general vote under US occupation.  At that point, there was no military.  The government was maintaining that Japan was not allowed to have military.  But soon the Korean War was started by DPRK, and JSDF was re-established.  Then the government changed the interpretation, and now claimed that JSDF was not military because equipments were not powerful enough to be called military equipments.  Then Japan regained sovereign power, which came with San Francisco Treaty and US-Japan security treaty.  All these years, Supreme Court avoided any meaningful judgement regarding JSDF and US-Japan security treaty.  That rendered a division of cabinet (Naikaku Houseikyoku) a de facto interpreter of Constitution, which has no such constitutional power.    Constitution defines Supreme Court as supreme, and no special courts are allowed (Article 76 2).  Then, there is no military courts to judge war crimes, which should have different standards than penal code.  At this moment, war crimes have to be tried as regular crimes.  If JSDF has to battle, this would be a real legal chaos.  What kind of rational narrative is possible?

New Supreme Court appointees are subjected to general vote of confirmation, which has never fired anybody or never will (Article 79 2).  Article 89 says that tax money should not be spent on non-public or religious schools, which is totally ignored.  Actually, nobody knows or cares. 

All these come from Article 96 1, which requires 2/3 super majority of both houses to propose amendments, which has never been done.   As Ozawa Ichiro says, without changing Article 96 1, there would be no amendments.

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