Anne Frank and Japanese Divine Race Theory
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Hague Summit, in part to confer with the U.S. on how to deal with Russia's "passé 19th Century" geopolitical predations upon Ukraine. The day before, he visited the Anne Frank Museum with no reason made for this stop. While there, he stated, “When we look back at the 20th century, it is fair to say that it was the century characterized by the violation of basic human rights,... and looking ahead to the many years of the 21st century, I would like to ensure that we will never see the same things happening, and I share the responsibility of realizing this goal."
The Japanese PR machine will use Abe's visit to convince some Westerners that in 2014 Japan, which makes territorial claims on all of its neighbors, is not the same Japan that in the 20th Century perpetrated the murders of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Nanjing Massacre, the Sexual Enslavement of over a 300,000 girls, the live vivisections of Unit 731, or the Bataan Death March. Japan will instead present itself as America's best and most trustworthy ally.
But for those who are familiar with Japanese political doublespeak, they will note that Abe's vague comments used the passive voice to describe the 20th Century, deftly avoiding the names of those nations that violated human rights along with the names of their victims. To the general Japanese public, his words will be understood not as an apology for Japan's wartime evils but quite the opposite, with Japan proclaiming itself during a global forum attended by 53 nations as the chief victim of the last century. Abe's vow, stated in the first person voice, to never let it happen again, means to those listeners that he pledges to make Japan so strong that Japan never will be "victimized" again. To the Japanese deniers of the Holocaust and its own war crimes - his firmest supporters - WWII was only about Japan's struggle in its "divine cause" to create a Japan-ruled Asia with the "Yamato Race as Nucleus," and Japan's subsequent martyrdom for heroically seeking that divine and lofty goal.
This "Deep State" Japan group, which includes senior government leaders, media heads, and intellectuals, believes that the "divine" Japanese were the victims of America's armed forces, which forced the "divine" Emperor Hirohito into the humiliation of surrender and acceptance of the MacArthur Constitution. To them, the worst "human rights violations" were against the war criminals and the Emperor, who were forced to accept "victor's justice." Japan's fascist governing class and mentality was supposed to disappear over time, but it has remained "openly undercover," and many of Japan's leaders today are the literal grandsons and grandnephews of Class A war criminals. To this class, the goal is to essentially pull off the mask of the MacArthur Constitution and be free to speak and act openly as did Japan in the late 19th Century. This is what they really mean about wanting to return Japan to a "normal country."
Yes, there is something vile about using a visit to the Anne Frank Museum to make a forked tongue pledge on behalf of human rights, but Shinzo Abe has a habit of playing passive-aggressive war games, such as his photo op in 2013 in which he is pictured inside the cockpit of a jet bearing the number "731." We have been assured that this number was a coincidence, unrelated to Unit 731, much as the new "flat topped destroyer" - don't call it a carrier - Izumo, was also coincidentally christened on the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima A-Bomb attack. The real reason for Abe's visit to the Anne Frank Museum, however, was to perform another ancient ritual which Abe is quite familiar with called damage control. He had to go there in order to soothe international criticism of various crimes committed in Japan related to the Anne Frank diaries.
During February and early March, over 310 copies of the Anne Frank diary were ripped up or stolen from 40 libraries in Tokyo and Yokohama. Japanese police finally announced that on March 7 they caught the perpetrator, an unnamed man in his 30's. From the Asahi Shimbun:
The man told police investigators he 'ripped books at libraries,' sources said. But his words often did not make sense, and police believe he probably did not have an ideological motive for vandalizing the books, they said. Police are examining whether he can be held criminally responsible. According to police, the man entered a Junkudo bookstore in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward on Feb. 19 and 22 and put up posters without permission, the sources said. The man has admitted to the wrongdoing. Two copies of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' were found damaged at the same bookstore on Feb. 21. Security camera footage showed the man wandering on the third floor where copies of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' were on sale. Sources said the posters he put up had nothing to do with Anne Frank or Nazi Germany. An individual who appeared to be the same man was recorded by security cameras at some of the libraries where Anne Frank books were damaged. But the footage could not prove that the man caught on camera and the man under arrest were the same person.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center commented: "It remains unclear however, that only one person, described in media reports as unstable could have perpetrated all these attacks in Tokyo and Yokohama. Further if as some reports indicate that the suspect told police he was motivated by his belief that Anne Frank Diary is a fraud, that is proof that he shares the big lie expressed and promoted by neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites."
Some people, particularly many Westerners in Japan, slough off racist crimes in Japan to random "right wing crazies." I agree that the vandalizing of the Anne Frank diaries was not a state-sponsored act but rather the act of a few individuals. However, I think that dismissing these acts done by some "loons" or "nutjobs" is a way of avoiding the depth of the problem and finding remedies for it. I am reminded of the movie Chinatown, in which Jack Nicholson plays a detective who discovers the twisted crimes of a powerful man and when about to stop yet another crime, a crooked cop holds him back and he is told, "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." Just look away, Americans and Europeans, look away. Just let it go. And so many Westerners just tell themselves, "Forget it, it's Japan." Meanwhile, the bad guys live to do crimes again and again, openly.
Anne Frank, who died at age 15, wanted to be a journalist -- that profession in which one is expected to ask who? what? when? where? how? Maybe in her honor we should try to discover why her books were torn apart in faraway Japan, where, it is said, anti-Semitism is not a problem, where most people are friendly, polite, and law-abiding.
Let's start with German history. One of the most idiotic pseudo-intellectual questions is the often repeated: "But how could such a civilized country as Germany -- the Germany of Beethoven -- put people in gas chambers and ovens?" The answer is simple. Beethoven made music, not racial or military policies. It was the political leaders, and those people who directly made their living from those leaders, who promulgated such policies. For centuries there had been a desire by German rulers to expand eastward, and many areas that today are "German" were Baltic or Slavic areas. German politicians, philosophers, and educators in the 19th Century openly spoke of a need to "do something" about the Poles under their rule -- either germanize them or kill them -- clearly a forerunner notion of a Final Solution. From the Romantic movement that brought Wagner, sprang the Völkish movement and the secretive Thule Society, in which Germans were encouraged to see themselves as descendants of mythical Teutonic warrior-Gods, a unique race above all others that was meant to rule the world.
Karl Ernst Haushofer, who came from a family of artists, was born a year before Bismarck unified Germany and he committed suicide a year after Germany surrendered in WWII. He is but one viral link to Japan's modern racial theories. In 1908 Haushofer was sent to Japan to advise the Japanese army as a military instructor. He met Emperor Meiji, the modernizer of Japan who specifically modeled Japan after Bismarck's Germany. With an imperial introduction, Haushofer gained enthusiastic access to all the major leaders of Japan's intelligentsia, and just as fast as they absorbed German technologies of war, they sopped up his conceptions of Aryan race theory -- to such an extent that some Japanese intellectuals wrote that Japan "should leave" Asia. He is one of the main ideologues behind Lebensraum, and as a professor, he had as a student Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy who signed the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews. Several times he and Hess travelled to Japan on propaganda missions. Prior to WWII Haushofer was a key figure in bonding National Socialist Germany and Fascist Japan, and the Axis Powers alliance was the realization of his book Geopolitics of the Pacific Ocean.
It should be noted that the Japanese did not require the Germans to come upon the idea that the "Yamato Race" was divine. The ancient book of Kojiki, written in the 8th Century informed the Japanese that Japan was founded by "gods paddling on reed rafts from Heaven." Most importantly, the Emperor is stated as descending from the Shinto god Amaterasu. In the 13th Century, during Mongol attempts at a naval invasion of Japan, Japan was saved by typhoons, fabled as a "divine wind," or kamikaze. All these ideas weighed heavily in Japanese divine race theory, but the Prussian Bismarckian and German National Socialist inputs added an extra veneer of modernity and Western acceptability. After all, if the most civilized, best educated and strongest European country held such racial theories, then Japan wasn't so backward having its own killer racism. In fact, to the Japanese fascist, it was necessary. Necessary to obliterate Korean national identity, culture, and language; necessary to make Manchuria the mining camp and breadbasket of Japan; necessary to make China the slave workhouse of Japan, and so on.
It should also be noted that Japan had once before attempted to take over Asia, during the late 1500's, but the Shogun Hideyoshi's forces were pushed back to Japan by the Koreans under Admiral Yi Sun Shin, whose tactics have been compared to the British Admiral Horatio Nelson. It is also significant that the same Satsuma Clan that furnished Hideyoshi's navy and the same Choshu Clan that manned the invasion army were still in place in control of the Japanese Navy and Army at the dawn of the 20th Century. In 2014, Japan maintains, very close to a shrine to the now deified Hideyoshi, a Mimizuka mound, which is a collection of Imjin War trophies -- noses, ears, and other body parts severed from Korean and Ming victims of that war. Requests by Buddhists to repatriate those remains have been refused by the Japanese government on the grounds that this grisly collection is a "national treasure." The Japanese State never forgets.
As for anti-Semitism in Japan, we often are told of the positive work of Vice Consul Chiune Sugihara in Lithuania who issued transit visas for Jews escaping Europe. But we do not hear much about those already living in Asia. Edward Behr states in Hirohito: Behind the Myth that Russian Jews, "nearly all living in Manchuria or northern China, were already subject to appalling discrimination, not as Jews but as stateless White Russians, and potential "#1$wooden logs%&" to be used in laboratory experiments." David Bergamini in Japan's Imperial Conspiracy writes about the Jews in Harbin as being victimized by Japanese authorities, constantly subjected to extortion, kidnappings, robberies, murder, or threats of deportation. Bergamini:
The Japanese...were beginning to use Jews ... as bugbears in propaganda.... To the haunted mind of the samurai,... unfamiliar devils could be as fearful as familiar ones. The Jews of Harbin, most of them virtually stateless and so defenseless, soon learned to their grief that Shinto persecution could be as merciless as Christian. As soon as the Kwantung Army entered Harbin in 1932, it made an agent and collaborator of the local Russian Nazi leader, a hoodlum intellectual by the name of Rodzaevsky who edited a hate sheet called Nash Put.
In the post-WWII decades anti-Semitic policies are not in force, but certain prolific Japanese fascist reinvigorators still try to keep the hatreds alive. One of the most thorough discussions of the history of anti-Semitism in Japan is by Haifa University Professor Rotem Kowner, most of whose excellent research is online. He largely believes that Japanese anti-Semitism stalled out around the 1980's, but here are some recent updates that I have come across:
- Keichi Kobori, Tokyo University professor, who praised a Holocaust denial group in the magazine Marco Polo. The editor of that magazine, Kazuyoshi Hanada, is currently a media commentator and editor of the magazine Will. He is said to be on personal terms with Abe.
- The children's video comic book series Angel Cop (1990), in which "it is revealed that Jews are the main threat to Japan's standard of living, and are trying to sabotage the country's economy and turn it into a dumping ground for radioactive material."
- Uno Masami, Professor of Osaka University, who in 1989 denied the Holocaust and claimed that Jews created the HIV virus, is currently Director of the Liberty Institute, Inc., which publishes books and video materials highlighting his anti-Semitic theories
- Taro Aso, a former PM and current Deputy PM under Abe, who stated in 2013 that in reforming Japan's constitution, Japan should "learn from the Nazis."
- Novelist Naoki Hyakuta was recently treated to nine day visit to Iran, where he met Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. His recent best-selling novels, The Eternal Zero,as well The Man Who Was Called a Pirate, involve Japanese heroes (a kamikaze pilot and a ship captain) who enjoy small but meaningful victories over the Americans. Todd Crowell writes that "Hyakuta subscribes to most of the extreme Japanese-nationalist tropes: The Nanjing Massacre was a Chinese fabrication; the "comfort women" a rude South Korean libel; that Japan was tricked into going to war with the U.S. while liberating Asia from colonial domination, and so on." By the way, Hyakuta has been named by Abe to be on the Board of Governors of NHK, the state-run broadcaster.
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army
Flag of Japan Maritime Self Defense force
Flag of the Japan Ground Defense Force
Japan's leadership and fellow travelers sometimes have used Jews as an easy scapegoat, but in Japan there have always been many scapegoats to choose from. In the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, the Regent Hirohito appointed General Fukuda Masataro to take charge and to find a scapegoat. In the past, sometimes Emperors abdicated after earthquakes, which were seen as punishment of the gods. Bergamini: "Fukuda's soldiers, aided by young vigilantes of the palace-sponsored Military Sports Clubs and by thugs of the Black Dragon Society, began to hunt down every Oriental they could find who spoke Japanese with an accent. Four thousand despised Koreans from the slums were given mock trials... and were then beheaded in the streets."
In 2014, on weekends in the Tokyo Korean neighborhood of Shin-Okubo, "megaphone-wielding demonstrators have taken to the streets, telling the Koreans to 'go home or die.' They’ve threatened to 'flatten this neighborhood' and build a gas chamber in its place." You see, in Japanese racist theories, it is OK to mix your race hatreds and WWII Holocaust imagery.
Reporters such as William Pesek of Bloomberg and Kurt Spitzer of Time believe that the Anne Frank diaries were not destroyed specifically due to anti-Semitism but rather out of a jealous rage by some who believed that a recent submission of the letters of Kamikaze pilots to UNESCO would be rejected. The UNESCO Memory of the World Register includes works such as the diary of Anne Frank and Magna Carta, but when China heard of this submission, on February 10 it protested. The attacks on the Anne Frank books in Japan soon followed. I subscribe to this theory as the likely immediate "why" or motivation of the vandals.
Grant Newsham writes: "One aspect of Abe and his allies that is seldom recognized is their resentment over Japan's loss in World War II (which, they believe, they were tricked into) and being occupied. Equally irksome is that their Constitution (and democracy!) was foisted on them by Americans. They hate the idea of foreigners controlling Japan -- from some, I have even heard regret over US-imposed democracy." I agree with Newsham on this, but I disagree when Newsham goes on to say: "If the US is serious about achieving its national security objectives in Asia, it must look beyond the quirks of the Abe administration and build a relationship with Japan similar to the 'special relationship' we've had with the British. Japan has its quirks, as do we, but our two countries are still the best hope for freedom and prosperity in Asia. The key is to focus on Japan, rather than Prime Minister Abe."
Sorry, but I don't think that Bush, Obama, or Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or any other American leader has a "quirk" such as "master race theories," while Japan, with or without Abe, still does. That fact does not earn "America's Trusted Ally" status. Since 1945 the Japanese ruling class and their allies have told us to ignore their war criminals for the sake of the larger issue of fighting communism. Well, maybe that made sense in 1945, but not only is Japan in 2014 not repentant for its war crimes, its leadership still nurtures and cultivates every image of the wartime Japan that it can. Be the PM Shinzo Abe, Taro Aso, Toru Hashimoto, Nobuteru Ishihara, Takashi Kawamura, et al, this is the ideology of those who govern Japan. Yes, the focus should not be on who is PM. Our focus should be on America's benefits in a forward-thinking defense relationship involving Japan along with other countries. We must not allow American power to be the used cynically by Japan's Deep State, because Japanese fascists are not natural allies of America's, just as Chinese Communists are not. Yes, we need to work with Japan in this "long twilight struggle" against communism, but not with the same trust as with allies such as the UK, Canada, Australia, or with those Asian democracies where American soldiers have fought side-by-side with their soldiers against communism and fascism.
Just as we might describe today's China as communism with capitalism, Japan could be described as fascism with capitalism. Since today both China and Japan have monuments and museums dedicated to the "national honor" of killing Americans, maybe we should be more careful in our relationships with those two countries. The Chinese will insist that they are no threat to us, even as they declare the South China Sea their lake and as they send warships into the Atlantic. And the Japanese will try to use the American defense shield to promote their own territorial predations on their neighbors in a revisitation of their ancestors' dreams of conquest.
The Japanese Deep State has for many decades following WWII shrewdly tried to convince Americans, especially conservatives, that they are the greatest friends of America in Asia. In the Pacific War Criminal Trials, most of the perpetrators got off lightly, in part thanks to MacArthur's deputy, Charles Willoughby, whom Mac jokingly called "my pet fascist." And at Hirohito's funeral, President Reagan even described Hirohito as having played a "truly heroic role" for bringing WWII to an end. It's time for America to look at Asia and its leaders more carefully, especially since our military strength is now at pre-WWII levels.
Shakespeare had Mark Antony in Julius Caesar say, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." Racism and the egotism of the defective mind do not care about their victims, but only their Cause, and often these notions are urgently passed to new generations. The defenders of the victims of the Holocaust, of the Nanjing Massacre, of Sex Slavery, of the Bataan Death March or of Unit 731 never will see justice or sincere repentance from Japan as long as that nation refuses to look at her history as would a normal country. The Germans have gone through their denazification and they are a respectable, normal country as a result. The Japanese were spared the purging of their Divine Race theories and imagery, and as a result, even in 2014, even in America, any perceived enemy of the Divine Yamato throne -- even humble statues in Glendale, CA or Palisades Park NJ honoring the victims of Japan -- is still targeted by groups of Japanese who cannot let the truth be uttered.
The Anne Frank diary to its attackers was considered an attack on Japan by its very existence and by the exclusion of Japanese suicide warriors being similarly honored. If you say that there was a Holocaust, or if the Nanjing Massacre occurred, or that middle school girls in Asia were kidnapped by the Japanese government to use as sex slaves, then you are attacking their Divine Race Theory. This is the sick motivation of the criminals who destroyed Anne Frank's diaries. The crime was not done for anti-Semitism in itself as much as it was done for the promotion of Japanese Divine Race Theory.
Such notions cannot be permitted in a modern world, and this is exactly why few Japanese know anything at all about Japanese history except Japan being a victim country. Even as innocent children are born in today's Japan, this virus of racism is allowed to remain in the Japanese soil. It is nurtured in Deep State rituals and spread by undivine winds and passively it is inhaled by the impressionable youth. All to honor and reawaken the spirit of the dead samurai, who, before Japan's modernization, ranged across Japan unheroically raping, pillaging, murdering their first victims -- the Japanese common people -- who quickly learned as a people how to cry in silence.
Jim Little is a pen-name of a writer who writes from Europe. He can be found at @WriterJimLittle