Friday, December 29, 2006

In Japan, new nationalism takes hold

I'm torn; I hate overt nationalism and militarism in any country, but I also like to see an overcoming of the effects of American jingoism and economic imperialism that have characterized the world since the end of WWII.

Some of these changes actually seem to make Japan more like the U.S.:

“The Japan of 2006 has quietly adopted a tone very different from the milder pacifism of it postwar identity. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe engineered two historic changes - transforming the postwar Defense Agency into a full-scale Defense Ministry, and ushering in a law requiring patriotic education in schools. The new law requires teachers to evaluate student levels of patriotism and eagerness to learn traditions. The Asahi Shimbun warns that this may 'force students to vie to be patriotic in the classroom.'"

When a people are overtaken or stripped of important parts of their cultural identity, they can be prone to overreact, to fight back in ways that are more reactionary than actionary. This leads to a condition in which both the violators and the ones who are violated are wrong.

I love Japan; culturally and aesthetically, it is one of my favorite countries. And though I haven't yet been, I do intend to go--and when I get there, I really want it to be Japan, not a Westernized (i.e., Americanized) version of it. But I also want to be comfortable there, to feel welcome. In short, I want Japan to assert their cultural identity and national autonomy, but not with threats, racism, or belligerance.


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