Sunday, June 10, 2007
Japan and Germany: worlds apart and yet so similar
By HUGH CORTAZZI
CULTURE AND POWER IN GERMANY AND JAPAN: The Spirit of Renewal, by Nils-Johan Jorgensen. £50 (cloth)
Writing regularly for Japan Times we presume automatically that Mr Cortazzi is a man of integrity. A former British diplomat he is:
Sir Hugh Cortazzi GCMG retired after four years' service as British ambassador to Japan in 1984, but has since been a leading scholar and promoter of better relations between Britain and Japan. He also writes a regular column in the Japan Times, and in 2006 his translation of the Japanese Crown Prince's account of his time at Oxford was published as "The Thames and I".
Well, Sir Cortazzi ! The Sir do not impress us since everybody knows that the title has a commodity price among british politicians and government servants like the tuna-toro price in Tsukiji fishmarket.What is interesting is that you are trying to promote some book written by a Mr Nils-Johan Jorgensen.
And who is he???
When he was Norway's Ambassador to Tanzania Nils-Johan Jorgensen observed that Tanzanians are "very proud of the unity, sense of stability and peace, and it would not be politically easy to change this dramatically". "I haven't seen anything that would disturb that stability and the continuity of the Nyerere legacy," "The fact that only one party has been in power for a long time, does not mean it is undemocratic, although the presence of an opposition to check on the government's performance is equally desirable."
So Norway's Ambassador to Tanzania Nils-Johan Jorgensen is not only speaking for a postcolonial banana-republic but according to Sir Cortazzi also an authority of "the nature of German and Japanese culture".
Sir Cortazzi goes further saying:
The author of this interesting and thought-provoking study was a Norwegian diplomat who served in both Germany and Japan. He acquired a good knowledge of both countries and their languages. His analysis is based on careful study and not blurred by prejudice. Germany and Japan have striking similarities in recent history through war and then economic and gradual political renewal but, at the same time, display a very different cultural and historical experience."
The author brings out the differences between the two countries in their attitudes toward World War II and the horrific acts that took place in the years leading up to 1945.
He notes that, in Japan, a sense of guilt is absent despite the deaths of 30 million people in the Pacific War. Japan's regret for the suffering caused by the war is balanced by the belief that because of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the burning of Tokyo, Japan was more a victim than an aggressor. While only Neo-Nazis attempt to justify Hitler's policies, some Japanese still argue that the East Asian War was justified — that the only mistake was that they were defeated.
Nils-Johan Jorgensen, commenting on the nature of German and Japanese culture, notes "the alliance between culture and power, art and politics in Germany and Japan as both countries moved toward nationalism and imperialism in the 1930s." He points out that "German and Japanese fascism hijacked symbols, myths, rituals and ceremonies and resettled them in the new communication of militarist ideology in a deliberate strategy of aesthetics . . the art of the totalitarian mind is to capture essential symbols totally and to wage a total war." He adds provocatively: "in that sense German and Japanese fascism is related to al-Qaida and international terrorist ideology."
Sir Cortazzi concludes: "The book deserves to be read widely but it is not light reading." Wrong!The book deserves to be ignored.
When the danish writer Thorkild Hansen wrote his book about Norway's Knut Hamsun trial and Norway's attitude towards Nazi Germany and Hitler he concluded: "If you want to meet idiots go to Norway."
Thanks to Sir Cortazzi we don't have to go to Norway but can meet an Idiot reading Japan Times. Nils-Johan Jorgensen is the living excuse of the christian-racist ideology post pacific-war effort to justify the morality of the elimination of Japan as an independent pacific power.
The tool for this is to "Nazify" pre-war Japan conveniently ignoring the fact that Nazi-German ideology was based on a neo-christian world-order with a colonialized East-europe and Russia as objective, while Japan's efforts was based on opposing and dismantling of western-colonial hegemony in the Pacific and East Asia. Japan could not and can not isolate herself from developments and geopolitical events on the Asian mainland just as UK never could afford not to influence (often by waging war) the power-balance on the "continent" (Europe) . Being british Sir Cortazzi knows this very well. He should also know that timing in war and peace is essential. The Japanese effort to end British and European domination in East Asia was timed in accordance with events in Europe just like the British-French attack on Egypt in 1956 to regain the Suez Channel was timed and triggered by a revolution in Hungary. Hitler's populist racial philosophy found followers and admiration in much of North-Western Europe, even in UK as well as in America where racism was as popular as apple pie. In contrast Anglo-Saxon and Germanic racism was and is totally alien to Japan.
The German-Japan alliance ended befor it started, broken by Germany by not informing Japan about the attack on Russia and operation Barbarossa.
German "ubermensch" and "lebensraum" policy was defeated mainly due to Stalins iron willed personality, the Russian limitless human sacrifice and Winston Churchill,s brilliant manipulations.
However. British, French, Dutch and US post-war efforts to re-establish dominance in Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Indochina, Philippines and even on the Korean Peninsula failed. In contrast the King David Kalakaua , Sun Yatsen and Meiji-Showa vision of "greater Asian prosperity" is today a reality and seems to be alive and well and is growing. Sir Cortazzis efforts to peddle the opposite by recommending a rather fictional history book by some mediocre diplomat is lamentable and Japan Times publishing it is degrading. Nils-Johan Jorgensen is an irritating little sod and his book The Spirit of Renewal Originally published in Norwegian under the title ‘Japan and Germany – Restoration and Power’ (1997) is only for Norwegian Germanic idiots.
by Gabor Fabricius
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