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Japan & Asia-related/日本とアシア関係
MAIN STORY (below): KIMIGAYO AND THE HINOMARU? JUST SAY NO!
Other Asian Stories: Release Korean Human Rights Activists; Bashing Gender Equality,講演会「WTO香港からどこへ？～グローバル化と世界貿易」; 西パプアの人々に対する秘密戦争: ジョン・ピルジャー;Iwakuni residents say ‘No’ to U.S. forces relocation; Korean Forced Laborers; Inequality and Japanese Education; Yomiuri and Asahi Editors Call for a National Memorial to Replace Yasukuni; After Kyoto: Japanese firms rush to cash in on gas emission reductions; The Nago Mayoral Election and Okinawa’s Search for a Way Beyond Bases and Dependence; Mitsubishi, Historical Revisionism and Japanese Corporate Resistance to Chinese Forced Labor Redress…
Other News and Activism: WATER: Activists, Global Forum Do Not See Eye to Eye; RIGHTS: U.N. Creates New Watchdog Over U.S. Opposition; AGRICULTURE: Social Movements Call for “New Agrarian Reform;”
OUR MAIN STORY
“If Germany did this they would call it what it is: Nazism”-school teacher
In the 17 March 2006 issue of The Independent, “Japan cracks down on rebel pupils who refuse to sing,” David McNeill talks about the heavy-handed authoritarianism used against students and teachers who refuse to sing the nationalist anthem and stand for the Japanese flag at school ceremonies. There is another way to look at it, however, as hundreds have already been disciplined, meaning that the spirit of resistance is alive and well in Tokyo. One could argue that the harder xenophobes like Gov. Ishihara push, the more people will push back.
However, many are not so optimistic about the spirit of resistance in Japan. One such person is ODA Makoto, who–in an IndyMedia interview with Japan’s Brian Covert–lays blame squarely on the press for much of the apathy towards issues such as war and peace that one finds on the streets of most cities among the post-war generation. If he is right, we can understand the desperation of the nationalists with their flag and anthem rules. Hopefully it will backfire and a new generation of anti-authoritarianism will unwittingly be spawned by the very people seeking to force Japan’s young to march in lock step with its increasingly beligerant attitudes toward Koreans, Chinese and other former colonials as well as its greater collaboration with George Bush and Tony Blair’s death machine in the Middle East.
So what can YOU do if you are a student or a parent who does not want to see your kid forced to obey rules that have nothing to do with learning to think and everything to do with learning NOT to think?
Some pretend to be sick, the braver refuse to stand, and some even wear peace ribbons to school ceremonies. (When this writer was at student at John Adams High School in New York, we were set upon by members of the football team, apparently encouraged by their pro-Vietnam war coach, and so it brings back fond memories to see a new generation learning to say “NO!” to power even if their numbers are relatively small.) A few brave people like music teacher, Sato Miwako sued the government after she was suspended for refusing to play the anthem on her piano. But the authorities are not getting the message, or perhaps they hope their strong-armed tactics will stop the resistance from growing. One retired teacher has already been arrested for encouraging people not to stand up.
While the number of people protesting has decreased, there is some hope that the increasingly brutal crackdown against those who continue to resist will ignite a fire in those who have until now stood helplessly by, sparking greater resistance. In this light you can see why history textbooks have been censored by the very same people behind the forced patriotism; if kids knew what evils Japan had done in their name in the past, they too would refuse to stand up and sing praise to an Emperor system which caused such misery to Japanese and non Japanese alike for so many years.
There is another hope. Legal scholars say there is no legal obligation to sing the national anthem, and kids have legal rights too (maybe!). In an article one year ago, Eriko Arita of the Japan Times quotes law professor Yoshifumi Tawara of Rissho University as saying that the curriculum guidelines have no legal power over the content of education that students receive, noting that “while ‘Kimigayo’ is legally recognized as the national anthem, no law obliges teachers to force students to sing it”. This is also true for paying NHK fees, by the way.
Finally, Norimitsu Onishi writes in an article from just over a year ago on the punishments metered out for refusing to obey the orders on the song and flag. Noteworthy is an exchange between a rightist politican and the current Emperor on the notion of forcing kids to be patriotic, which seems to be a contradiction in terms. It seems that this Emperor is himself not being patriotic enough in the eyes of those nostalgic for Japan’s dark days of fascism.
Meanwhile, McNeill, in a letter to a Korean web site makes some interesting observations, this time in the context of a dispute between Japan and Korea over Dokdo/Takeshima. (What you call it depends on whose country’s media you read, just more evidence confirming ODA Makoto’s premise that the media –and probably both the media here and in South Korea–are not interested in the real issues of life and death, war and peace. They are just playing the nationalist card.) As McNeil says, “for us gaijin (foreigners) here in Japan, the depth of feeling in these disputes with Korea and China over what look like rocks in the middle of the ocean can be difficult to grasp, so as I often do in cases like this- I turned to my neighbors to gauge popular opinion”.
And what was his discovery? That the average citizen couldn’t care less about country-country reivalry. He gives as evidence that ‘the majority of Japanese oppose changes to history textbooks that whitewash the past with thousands of teachers, unionists and others fighting a magnificent campaign against the New History textbook which ended up being used in just 0.01 % of Japanese junior high schools’. He also notes how hard it has been for the LDP–thus far–to change Article 9 of the Constitutiom, something they have been trying to do for the last half century. And Japanese people are overwhelmingly, if not vocally, opposed to sending troops the war in Iraq. Hopefully he is right, because as seen above, the State is employing ever more forceful methods to achieve compliance. It is no accident that the very same people who support the right wing “Tsukurukai” textbook are those trying to force kids to stand for the flag and anthem.
Not just kids being forced to obey
In the article, we learn that the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace has warned Hibakusha to steer clear of a number of issues, claiming in the face of bitter crticism by the atomic bomb victims that it is for reasons of “effectiveness” in getting the peace message across, rather than some kind of censorship. And what issues are the hibakusha supposed to avoid talking about?
-Responsibility of Emperor Hirohito for World War II
-Koizumi’s visits to the openly revisonist/rightwing Yasukuni Shine
-Proposed revisions of the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9
-The Self-Defense Forces’ mission in Iraq
-Legislation to prepare Japan for a military attack
-The introduction of school history textbooks that China, South Korea and many Japanese educators say whitewash Japan’s militarist past.
-Nuclear power generation, the environment and human rights issues
Human rights issues? Yeah, sure! And what else but a human rights issue is it when politicians and bureaucrats attempt to silence those whose sickness and hardships are the direct result of a fanatically rightist colonial policy that led the U.S. to engage in wholesale murder with its two atom bombs, a country which is now ironically pushing Japan to remilitarize and make Japan an even bigger part of its “sphere of infkuence”. Even though Japan’s rightists claim that they want a home-grown Constitution instead of one ‘imposed on them by the victor nation in World War II”, the fact is that it is to this victor nation, the U.S., that Koizumi and company are beholden to on every issue from the import of questionable food products tainted with GM organisms, mad cow or agricultural chemicals, to nuclear proliferation, the war on the citiziens of Iraq, the neoliberalist detsruction of jobs and job security, and so much more. And now, in the name of being a modern, democratic nation, like its big Uncle Sam, Japan is going back down the road of repression and historical coverup. Talk about ironies.
Bashing Gender Equality: Establishing a System that Skews the Population on All Sides: from a year ago, but relevant today. Here is an editorial from the Japan Times this past week.
Recent stories include:
Wijers-Hasegawa: Korean Forced Laborers: Redress movement presses Japanese government 02/28/06
Iwasaki: Open the Door — Japan ‘s Policy of Exclusion of Refugees 02/22/06
NOMI: Inequality and Japanese Education: Urgent choices 02/19/06
Wakamiya: Yomiuri and Asahi Editors Call for a National Memorial to Replace Yasukuni 02/19/06
Masaki: After Kyoto: Japanese firms rush to cash in on gas emission reductions 02/17/06
Mccormack: The Nago Mayoral Election and Okinawa’s Search for a Way Beyond Bases and Dependence 02/17/06
Underwood: Mitsubishi, Historical Revisionism and Japanese Corporate Resistance to Chinese Forced Labor Redress 02/11/06
McNeill: Enemies of the State: 02/10/06
Inter Press News Agency: News from the Developing World
Recent stories: WATER: Activists, Global Forum Do Not See Eye to Eye, RIGHTS: U.N. Creates New Watchdog Over U.S. Opposition, AGRICULTURE: Social Movements Call for “New Agrarian Reform”
The New Standard
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