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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Saving Japan: Closing the Doors on the World !


Sakoku in Japanese “ country in chains” or “ lock up of country” was the foreign relations policy of Japan under which no foreigner or Japanese could enter or leave the country on penalty of death. This policy which in affect lasted for 218 years from 1635 to 1853, under the late great Tokugawa Iemitsu, kept Japan in peace and harmony for centuries. Of course there was Nagasaki, which was the only port accessible to foreigners, and maybe even Hakodate in Hokkaido...? How effective were such isolationist policies in preserving the cultural and spiritual integrity of the Japanese nation ?




The reemergence of cultural intolerance in Japan is on the rise again with some Japanese wanting a return to the old ways of Sakoku(ism), but not from a lack of cultural homogeneity or language, but from an excess of foreign ideals and rampant capitalism – Japan is not yet overrun with foreign immigrants who suck up all the jobs, like in the case of England, Germany and North America – instead, rather, the people of Japan lack job security and a clearer vision of the future of the country from its leaders which in turn is creating a xenophobic knee-jerk reaction to foreigners who are, for the most part are here in Japan legally and are abiding by the rules and paying their taxes, in spite of not even having the right to vote. At least in North America there’s an ongoing debate now on whether “illegal immigrants” should be allowed to vote. At least in North America we give these undocumented workers (illegal as hell immigrants) a tax ID number, but without representation from local government.



In Japan, such considerations as ‘foreigner rights’ is under stricter scrutiny as many of Japan’s leaders are confused between whether or not to impose more restrictive measures on what foreigner nationals and long term residence should be permitted to do, or allow more lax rules and freedoms and equality. On one hand, government officials want more tourism and foreign labor in order to shore up the huge imbalances in the labor market due to Japan’s staggeringly low birthrate. These leaders seem to be only capable of seeing what they want for Japan in terms of international appeal and prestige, to be a symbol of distinction (** because Japan is unique**) for all the world to see – this is what the government wants. On the other hand, the will of the government seems to be in direct opposition to the needs of the Japanese people, as many are worried about the rising cost of living and the decline in Japanese standards (…i.e. rising crime rate, suicides). I mean, what’s important here? Is it the needs of the Japanese, or the needs of the foreign masses? Whose country are we in?   If the locals are unhappy then how can the foreign visitor be happy ?  



Take isolationism as an example, a policy which has been practiced in many countries throughout history - not just Japan. China and the United States had institutionalized similar policies which had served these countries in ways that prevented them from forming alliances with other countries. The intention behind these seclusive policies were meant to preserve resources and other markets – nothing new. China, as an example, being one of the first major asian countries to ever get raped and pillaged by western powers was once the bastion of civilization for centuries until the heavy hand of western domination rested its bloody palms over her sacred institutions and governance's, and destroying everything it could get its grip on and thereby subjugating its people through economic oppression through drug distribution and re-distribution through every echelon of its society on down.  They tried to resist forming trade relations with Western powers, but in the end failed miserably and in the end lost everything. But, one thing is for sure, the Chinese know who they are today, and they are proud of who they've become. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Japan where national identity and patriotism are foreign concepts in this country as well as common sense. (“You have to protect your women; you have to protect your markets; you have to protect your children; you have to protect your language; you have to protect your culture; you have to protect your interest”). The Chinese do all of these things naturally. What happened to Japan?



The United States of America, on one hand, has probably been around for a little over 200 years and yet had managed to be not only the bulwark of isolationism, but perhaps the only nation in the world whose foreign policy was defined by isolationism for over a quarter century even according to today’s standards.   People like Thomas Paine, Anglo-American political philosopher, was a staunch advocate of isolationism whose efforts saw through both the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the French Revolution(1789-1799).



According to Goerge Washington in his Farewell Address he said: “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”



How effective were such exclusionary policies will depend largely on whether or not these policies benefited the respective countries in terms of racial harmony and or economic hegemony. – only time will tell or maybe time has already told us, or on us.    If we were to fast forward a bit after George Washington, let’s say 1945, American senator Robert Rice, who was an unabashed isolationist and Anglophobe, whose foreign policy position alienated him from Delano Roosevelt, advocated strict limits on immigration, by 90%, and the registration of all aliens because he feared that loose immigration laws would threaten the security of the job market in the U.S.



American politician Pat Buchanan who was runner up in the 2000 presidential election was another infamous modern day isolationist who advocated policies such as “America First” which would’ve lifted trade barriers while using the federal government to protect American jobs and other interest. In addition, he also wanted to cut foreign economic assistance and punish other countries who had poor human rights records like China, for example. These policies had proven very unpopular amongst his constituencies including the Democratic Party and the then Clinton Administration that favored free trade with Canada and Mexico.



“In great cities men are brought together by the desire of gain. They are not in a state of co-operation, but of isolation, as to the making of fortunes; and for all the rest they are careless of neighbors. Christianity teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves; modern society acknowledges no neighbor [Benjamin Disraeli former Prime Minister of England].



In Japan, we are beginning to see a growing need to revive a form of isolationism especially since it is the Japanese that have been affected by the enormous strain placed on the souls of its people by the unreasonable demands of the WTO. Its markets and the way of life for millions of Japanese citizens have diminished because of globalization and rampant western idealism. Not every country can close its doors and still feed its people; Japan surely can’t, but there was a time when it could. Japan now only tries to over compensate its neighbors in exchange for friendship and status by being too accommodating to them, and not to its own citizens and farmers and middlemen. In Japan we know a semi-open market has benefited its economy. What we don’t know, however, is to what extent, through over dependence, it has ruined it either. 



 It seems the more Japan depends on foreign trade the less it’s able to sustain itself within itself. Here in Japan they have relied heavily on foreign influences for centuries which has helped shape their perceptions of the world around them; R&D; Industry, and so forth and so on. As an example, in the case of poor Carib/African island nations the need for foreign aid and food has grown dramatically because of globalization to the point where these small countries have become debtor nations forever! Many owe the IMF and World Bank billions of dollars and many of these countries will never ever be able to repay these enormous debts. These small island nations weren’t always indebted to western powers. They are today with no end in sight. I have often wondered whether isolation was more beneficial in the long run vs. the opening of markets… Again, I reiterate in the case of Japan, having a semi - open foreign/trade policy has allowed its economy to grow by leaps and bounds, and has aided in the development of commerce, innovation and the manufacturing of new technologies. Open policies in trade has also helped develop new markets in agriculture and trade through exports of high quality foods such as Fuji Apples and Aomori garlic, and even grains. And while all of this may sound good to the western capitalist, I often wonder whether its quality will decrease because of the need for demand …Should Japan just fling her doors wider open and allow its rice and fruit markets to be exploited while allowing the quality of its products to diminish ? Or should it keep its markets locked shut and safe from foreign competition? 



 At first, Japan fought to protect its culture; it capitulated and allowed the western dregs of capitalist expansion to scourge its purity with their doctrines of death, with their bombs and with their guns and their democratic system of governance. Now, we live in a society that has been struggling with what democracy really means exactly. Sixty years later, most Japanese have no idea what a democracy is or what it means in practice, or even care for that matter because most live as if the Meiji constitution is still in place, and that’s exactly why the current constitution carries no weight. We have politicians in office today who can’t even decide how to run their own country, let alone make simple policy decisions like supporting the war against terror, or whether to support its own stance politically without the tacit approval or disapproval of the United Snakes of America.  It’s high time Japan stepped up to the plate and stand accounted as a first rate nation and world leader in the 21st century. Ever since the 19th Century Japan has been quite good at double hegemony, but their methods have been getting sloppy nowadays because they can’t decide whether to fight America’s enemies or shake hands with Iran over a multi-billion dollar oil deal for “Japans own oil interest for the Japanese.” Sort of reminds me of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance back in 1902 when Britian forged an alliance with Japan which primarily benefited Britain whereas Japan benefited very little from it. Britain needed Japan to contain Russia and protect British commerce interest in China. In turn, Japan would gain status in the international community for allying with a rich white nation. This alliance also made Japan Britain’s partner during WW1 which forced Japan to attack German targets during the Seige of Tsingtao in 1914. And then subsequently the Japanese switched sides and allied with Germany because they weren’t accepted by the international community as a super power – how ironic…. And all of this was done under Emperor Meiji. (“ And they think that that’s how friendships and alliances work?”). 



Japan tried to maintain a very delicate balancing act by trying to appease Europe and America’s friends and enemies and failed miserably. Even today, Japan is doing the exact same thing, but only this time nobody is listening at all. The argument for whether Japan should be given a permanent seat on the UNSC is still up for debate; the U.S. supports Japan’s bid, but the rest of the world including the U.N. feel that Japan is not ready for such a position which it bases solely off of its relationship with the United Snakes of America. The contention lies with Japan’s present war renouncing constitution which forbade it from engaging in war which the U.N. feels would lessen Japan’s ability to act either unilaterally or assist the U.N. in case war breaks out. Another contention is that Japan is too dependent on the U.S. which could seriously undermine the UNSC credibility and power structure and decision making ability. History dictates that when Japan tries to be accepted into the “international brotherhood” she either gets rejected or laughed at, either because she can’t choose sides or because she doesn’t know who to obey, so to speak. Had Japan looked out for her own interest first without leaning on the West for approval this country would’ve already had a revised constitution that would’ve enabled it to act unilaterally in its own interests in the greater interest of the country. Maybe then the world would look at Japan as worthy of mention as a true sovereign nation and world leader. Nation building starts right here in Japan in each and every home !

3 comments:

  1. Japan is nowhere near being in a position to distance itself significantly from the U.S. and its other allies. But, definitely a little backbone can be shown without any serious repercussions.

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  2. I agree. And it scares me just thinking about how dependent this country really is to the global market.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey bro, I like that you are really into the Japan's real, soulful culture and not the bullshit going on right now. Oh yeah, this is Japan Man, down with Black Passenger and Ralph, the triumvirate.

    We are real dudes man, no joke for real. You should be down with us getting it poppin. Hit me back on myspace at http://www.myspace.com/rodenaro or Japan Man at blackjapanman@gmail.com

    Keep doing your thing on the blog man and remember it don't matter if we enemies or friends. In fact my best friends have the potential to be my worst enemies. I am pleased to discover your blog and I admire how you stated your true intentions. Alright hit me back. Peace.

    ReplyDelete

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