Bombs And Confused Japanese Samurais
By Andre Vltchek
- Goodbye President Obama! Japan is mourning your
departure. It is mourning because you were such a good
friend, an exceptionally predictable ruler, and a truly
traditional imperialist. You spoke so well, and
tormented all those unruly colonies with admirable zeal
What is soon
coming is untested and therefore frightening. Obedient
and disciplined Japan historically detests
really mind prostituting itself, but only if it brings
great tangible benefits and as long as strict protocol
and decorum are fully respected. The upcoming scenario
could be frightening: Who knows? That new big ugly chap
across the ocean could soon ruin all etiquette; calling
whores and profiteers by their real names.
government and big business are now shaking in dread,
day and night. What changes are coming? How to please
the new foul-speaking lord?
dollars will be spent — or should we say ‘invested’ — in
the United States by Toyota car giant, in order to
appease the new Emperor? Why not? Every penny of it is
worth it! The Emperor has to be kept happy. Japan is
ready to arm itself to the teeth, provoking both North
Korea but especially China? Yes and yes again, as long
as the global ‘balance of power’ so greatly in favor of
Japan, South Korea and Taiwan for decades, remains
Conservative Prime Minister of the country, Shinzo Abe,
doesn’t want any ‘dangerous’ developments, any
deviations. As far as he is concerned, things are just
fine as they were. Not perfect, but fine. Japan has been
exactly where it should be: on its back, ageing, but
still desirable, eating mountains of caviar and oysters.
however, ‘developing’, rapidly and some would say,
irreversibly. The new US president, Donald Trump, is
clearly allergic to China as well as to several other
Asian countries. He is preaching protectionism and an
extreme form of nationalism, something that used to be
synonymous with Japan’s trade and business practices of
does not appear to be in Japan’s favor. Japan was
allowed to be protectionist, in exchange for its
unconditional political obedience. It thought that it
was awarded almost exclusive privileges.
paradoxically, Japan is trying to save the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free trade agreement,
which Donald Trump is promising to nuke. Japan’s
parliament even ratified the pact at the end of 2016.
Foreign Policy Magazine (FPM) declared in its
report published on January 2017: “Abe Wants to Be the
Last Free Trade Samurai”.
In fact, Shinzo
Abe is desperately trying to preserve Japan’s prominent
position, at least in Asia, and mainly against China,
which is intensively negotiating its own economic
partnership agreement with several Asian countries
called “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership”
(RCEP). Mr. Abe is also trying to push through his
brutal neo-liberal reforms that are encountering
resistance from the Japanese public.
the government the handy excuse it now needs to take
unpopular reform measures meant to give a new push
to the Abenomics program. Blaming outsiders for such
‘un-Japanese’ actions is a popular political
maneuver that even gets a special name ‘gai-atsu’.
desperate desire to remain the regional superpower is
pushing it even closer towards the West, and
particularly the United States. Since WWII, the country
has been fully dependent on Washington (and its market
fundamentalist dogmas), to such an extent that it almost
totally abandoned its own global vision and foreign
meantime, Japan is trying to even further penetrate and
subjugate various Southeast Asian countries, literally
wrestling them away from the increasing influence of
China and Russia. It is a very complex, often bizarre
game, as Abe’s government is habitually acting by
inertia, doing what was expected of it by the earlier US
administrations, not necessarily by the upcoming one.
under Western control, the Southeast Asian monolith is
beginning to crack: the Philippines under President
Duterte and Vietnam after some fundamental leadership
changes in early 2016 are moving closer towards China
and away from Washington’s orbit. Even Thailand, one of
the most dependable Cold War allies of the West is
quickly discovering the countless advantages that come
from a stronger relationship with Beijing.
resistance against Western imperialism is on the rise,
and Japan is in panic. It collaborated for so long that
it lost all memories of acting independently. In
exchange for betraying Asia, it used to reap great
benefits; the gap between its astronomical standards of
living and those in the rest of Asia used to be
exorbitant, but now, the Human Development Index (HDI)
rates such countries as South Korea, even higher.
Socialist and fiercely independent China is catching up,
not only economically but also in terms of science,
technology and standards of living.
question is never openly asked, but is creeping into the
subconscious thoughts of many Japanese people: ‘Was it
really worth it to collaborate so shamelessly with the
West, and for so long?’
confusing and unsettling the answers, the more
aggressive the behavior of many ordinary Japanese
citizens: racism towards the Chinese and Koreans is on
the increase. Often it is propelled by a frustration
that accompanies defeat; sometimes it comes from shame.
The present is
intertwined with history and its interpretation.
In Nagasaki, I
discussed once again the complex intricacies related to
Japan’s past, with the legendary Australian historian
really took full responsibility for the tremendous pain
it caused several Asian countries, but particularly
China, where around 35 million people vanished during
the brutal, genocidal occupation.
It is also
silent about its role during the Korean War, and the
crimes committed by its corporations in Southeast Asia
portrays itself as a victim, because of the atomic bombs
that destroyed two of its cities – Hiroshima and
Nagasaki – at the end of WWII, and because of the
annexation of several of its islands by the Soviet
Of course, the
nuclear bombing of the Japanese cities by the US Air
Force (or the fire bombing of Tokyo) was not meant to be
a ‘punishment’ for the monstrous crimes Japan committed
in China or Korea. It was simply a thinly disguised
experiment on human beings, as well as an aggressive
message and warning to the Soviet Union.
everything is taken out of historic context. Collective
memory is hazy. The occupation of several Asian and
South Pacific countries, the alliance with the European
fascist powers, WWII itself, the US occupation and
consequent collaboration, Japan’s profiteering during
the Korean War, as well as the constant siding with the
imperialist policies of the West: it all has been
covered by a comforting and softening duvet; by cozy
make-believe pseudo reality.
horrendous US military and air force bases located in
Okinawa and Honshu have been intimidating both China and
North Korea, Japan has been distributing,
hypocritically, all over the world its multi-lingual
columns with “May Peace Prevail On Earth” signs, trying
to feel good, and congratulating itself for its
“peaceful constitution” (composed by the US after the
In 2016, Shinzo
Abe’s close ally, Barak Obama, visited the Peace Park in
Hiroshima City. He did not apologize to the victims of
the nuclear blast. Instead, he posed with two
traditional Japanese paper cranes, the local symbols of
peace, and he spoke about the suffering of people during
the wars. He wrote a message to promote the abolition of
nuclear weapons, and then signed the book, putting the
paper crane next to his signature.
Japanese media dutifully covered the event. Nobody died
from laughter; nobody puked publicly, while recalling
countless wars, deadly covert operations and coups as
well as targeted killings that took place while Mr.
Obama was the boss of his aggressive Empire.
A few months
later, Mr. Abe visited Pearl Harbor. Like his US
counterpart did in Hiroshima, he spoke about the
suffering of the US servicemen based in Hawaii during
the Japanese attack. He did not apologize, but he turned
sentimental, even poetic.
At the end,
almost everyone felt really well, at least those living
in Japan and the West. Others do not matter too much,
Now the old
script is quickly becoming obsolete. The new director is
facing the stage, shouting at the actors, hitting seats
with his cane, insulting protégés of his predecessors.
terrified. It likes continuity and certainty. It plays
by the rules, the older the better.
This is not
looking good. It may not end well, not well at all.
Russia are rising, indignant and finally united. Several
Asian countries are switching sides. President of the
Philippines is calling Western leaders ‘sons-of-whores’.
India, now the most populous country on Earth, has
gritted its teeth and ‘just in case’ got itself one more
chair, now sitting on two.
At least some
in Japan are now (secretly and quietly) suspecting that
all along they were betting on the totally wrong horse.
How can a
samurai break all his allegiances without losing face?
How can he save his ass, when his armor begins to burn?
It is not easy; the etiquette of honor is extremely
strict, even if honor consists, if stripped of its
decorative layer, of brainlessness and sleaze.
and very traditional escape is a ritual suicide. It
seems that Japan’s leadership is committing exactly
that: it is raising the banner abandoned on the
battlefield by the previous warlord, it is trying to
gather some scattered allies, and then lead them to the
futile battle against the mightiest creature on Earth –
the Dragon, and by association, against the dragon’s
friend and comrade – the Bear.
It is all
beginning to look like a kitschy martial art movie, or
like a desperate set of irrational moves performed by a
gambler before he reaches absolute bankruptcy.
All this could
be, however, extremely deceiving, as Mr. Abe is actually
not a fool. He is playing a very high game and he may
still have some chances of winning: if the new Lord, Mr.
Trump, decides to exceed all previous rulers by his
brutality and aggressiveness, and re-hire the old and
well-tested samurai, Japan, for his deadly onslaught
It is worth
remembering that throughout Japan’s history, not all
samurais were fighting for honor. Most of them were for
Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and
investigative journalist. He has covered wars and
conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest
books are revolutionary novel “Aurora”
and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing
Lies Of The Empire”
Against Western Imperialism”.
View his other books here. Andre is making films for
teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin
America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides
in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work
around the world. He can be reached through his website
expressed in this article are solely those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Information Clearing House.