Tony Marano, known by his nickname of “Texas Daddy,” has become renowned in Japan for the discerning yet humorous opinions he shares via YouTube. Although Marano’s viewpoint is that of an American citizen, his commentary provides courage to Japanese people. Toshio Motoya spoke with Marano about many topics including why he started posting videos and his thoughts and feelings regarding Japan.
Motoya Welcome to Japan! I am very grateful to you for always speaking up on behalf of Japan.
Marano No, thank you for inviting me to this special interview.
Motoya Recently, a great deal of fabricated and distorted information about Japanese history is being distributed through the vigorous activities of China and South Korea in particular. As a result, comfort woman statues are being installed in the United States, and many fictitious manga about the comfort women were displayed at a French manga exhibition. If you repeat a lie 100 times, it becomes the truth. Japanese people believe it is shameful to discuss these fabrications, so they have not proactively refuted them, which was not good. But you, an American, are using online videos to convey various truths on behalf of the Japanese people. What inspired you to begin these activities?
Marano After I retired in 2006, I started posting videos on YouTube to express my views about American politics. In 2008 I read an article about Sea Shepherd interfering with the whaling and dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, Japan. I felt there was something very strange about these actions.
Motoya Why was that?
Marano Europeans and North Americans live on vast continents, so we are able to raise cows and other animals in inland areas for food. But Japan is an island nation with little level ground, so it is only natural that it harvests food from the sea. I felt it was odd for Westerners to obstruct the actions of Japanese people according to their own sensibilities, so I posted a video criticizing Sea Shepherd and supporting whaling – a Japanese tradition that is part of its food culture – on YouTube. I didn’t think about the Japanese audience at all, but my video was subtitled and reposted on Nico Nico Douga, a Japanese video sharing site, where my message was conveyed to great numbers of Japanese people.
Motoya There are few Westerners who openly take the side of Japan against Sea Shepherd. I think that’s why your video caused such a strong reaction.
Marano I agree. Messages sent from Japan rapidly taught me how wonderful the Japanese culture is. That’s how I realized that Japan – even though it has so many fantastic qualities – is being unilaterally subjected to harsh accusations by its neighboring countries, and felt that Japan should advocate for itself more towards external parties. I have put this into practice in cooperation with Japanese people, and believe there is great significance in collaboration between Japan and the U.S.
Motoya Regarding the comfort women issue, you contacted the American National Archives and received a record of questions posed to Korean comfort women by the U.S. Forces in 1944, which you also posted on your website. It contains detailed information, including about the large amounts of money earned by the comfort women and their pleasant lifestyles. The Japanese government knew of this record, but it did not discuss it in a major way. I think those sorts of responses caused the present situation.
Marano I agree entirely.
Motoya But thanks to you, who discovered this record and shared it with people, it has became a hot topic of conversation. It is much more effective for you, as one American person, to make this claim than if 100 Japanese people said the same thing. South Korea’s propaganda has even spread to the U.S., such as the comfort woman statue that was erected in Glendale, California. President Park Geun-hye is bringing up the comfort women issue in the U.S. and Europe as well as she carries out a type of diplomacy in which she seems to be tattling on Japan.
Marano I think these actions are very foolish.
Motoya Yes, they are.
Marano I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, so I place great importance on friendship. Japan and America are comrades, but I cannot help but feel the comfort women issue is driving a wedge in the U.S.-Japan relationship. South Korea is the one making these public claims, but it is being manipulated by communist forces in North Korea and China. China is using the comfort women story as a way to establish hegemony in East Asia. Moreover, South Korea is trying to use the comfort women to cover up its historical indiscretions. The U.S. and Japan must work together as friends to expose these truths.
Motoya South Korea maintained its kisaeng system, a type of prostitution, as a national business until quite recently. In addition, during the Vietnam War the South Korean army assaulted many Vietnamese women and hurt them in other ways. A major issue that resulted from this is the mixed Korean and Vietnamese children called “Lai Dai Han.” South Korea is attacking Japan on the comfort women story in order to conceal these things.
Marano South Koreans do not need visas to enter the U.S., and some people say that many South Korean prostitutes are coming to the U.S. for this reason.
Motoya I have heard that South Koreans are able to migrate to the U.S. as a trade-off for participating in the Vietnam War. As a result, the number of South Korean Americans is roughly 1.70 million. Japanese and Koreans look similar, so I am concerned that people often can’t tell us apart.
Marano People in the U.S. are fully aware of the differences between Korean and Japanese people. Japanese people are greatly respected in the U.S. in terms of both culture and economics.
Motoya People often bring up the Nanking Massacre together with the comfort women. Recent research in Japan has mostly popularized the fact that this massacre did not take place, but this issue has been revived together with the comfort women story, maybe because lies have more power in greater numbers.
Marano I agree, and am also planning to research the Nanking Incident in detail at the National Archives. The National Archives are home to a video showing General Iwane Matsui, the commanding officer of the Japanese Army in Nanking, giving testimony at the Tokyo Trials. I watched this video, but in the portion where Matsui is being questioned there are several parts that have been edited, so the answers are missing and we don’t know what he actually said. I want to go to the National Archives and conduct research there based on the possibility that written records remain.
Motoya One of the virtues of the U.S. is that it keeps good records of that sort.
Marano Yes. The Nanking Incident took place in 1937, so I bought several issues of Time magazine from that period in order to confirm how it was reported on in the U.S. It said that something happened, but there were no details of any kind. Also, the American mood at that time was entirely in favor of China and the media was not impartial.
Motoya Chiang Kai-shek’s wife Soong May-ling was a Christian who had studied abroad in the U.S. In contrast to China – where it was expected that many people would become Christian – there was no way to propagate Christianity in Japan, which was centered on the Emperor. I feel this is part of the background.
Marano I think so. But the circumstances are different today; religion doesn’t matter at all. Many Americans regard Japan favorably. For example, the younger generations love cosplay and anime, while people of middle age and older like Japan’s cameras and other electrical appliances.
Motoya I’m happy to hear that.
Marano When you bring up the Nanking Massacre, comfort women, or other issues to regular American people, they ask why you are talking about something that happened so long ago. Most of them aren’t interested at all.
Motoya That may be true. But Japanese people have ignored these issues for a long time since the end of World War II. After the end of the Cold War, China gained economic power and wanted to become a leader and gain hegemony throughout all of East Asia by showing contempt for Japan. One facet of this is probably using South Korea to pillory Japan on the comfort women issue. If you look at the history of the Korean Peninsula, you will see that it constantly joins up with the strongest party. After World War II Korea was swayed first by the U.S. and then Japan, and is snuggled up to China these days. This may be a sort of wisdom for a nation that is located on a peninsula, where it is difficult to maintain geopolitical independence.
Marano It’s true that peninsular nations face major obstacles.
Motoya The U.S. occupied Japan after World War II and regulated freedom of speech via a press code that prohibited criticisms of Korea and China. These effects were continually inherited by the people who profited from Japan’s defeat in the war, even after the Treaty of San Francisco came into effect, and continue today. That’s why Japan has been unable to publically refute the Nanking Massacre and comfort women stories.
Marano I agree with you. However, the situation in Asia has changed. The first major change is the impacts of the transformed American political circumstances. The Barack Obama administration has weakened the military, which is a deplorable situation. Basically, I feel that Japan should not expect aid from the U.S.
Motoya Japan should reform Article 9 of the constitution so we can have independent military power.
Marano Yes. Considering this and other factors, I hope a Republican candidate is victorious in the next presidential election. The Republican Party is well attuned to the national interests of the U.S. The same applies to Japan; if you have a weak stance like that of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Japan will be unilaterally exploited by the U.S. In contrast, with a good person like Shinzo Abe, there may be conflict at times but a meaningful relationship can be constructed.
Motoya I see.
Marano However, Japan should make decisions regarding constitutional reform and military expansion alike without being influenced by outside pressure. There is absolutely no need to listen to what China, South Korea, and even the U.S. say. Japan should make these decisions by itself. China is particularly belligerent, but I don’t think Japan needs to be bullied by its threats.
Motoya Still, one can regard the threat of China as a tool to accomplish unity amongst Japanese people.
Marano That’s true.
Motoya If nuclear states engaged in military conflict, the results would be disastrous. That’s why China and the U.S. will certainly not exchange actual fire. Japan must protect itself for that reason. The problem is that all of our neighboring countries have nuclear weapons, including Russia, China, and North Korea. I hope the U.S. will approve Japan taking part in “nuclear sharing,” in which nuclear weapons can be rented in the case of an emergency.
Marano NATO has introduced this arrangement, and I think it would be possible. The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan is a very important military alliance for the U.S., and it is supported by the respect American people have for Japan. All American soldiers who are stationed in Japan praise it when they return to the U.S. Former President Ronald Regan allowed Japan – which has missiles and great technical strength – to possess plutonium that can be put to use in nuclear weapons, which proves how much the U.S. trusts Japan.
Motoya That’s why many Asian leaders believe Japan is a latent nuclear state.
Marano There are no countries that disdain Japan’s technological capabilities, so perhaps that awareness is only natural.
Motoya I think Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have deteriorated in recent years because Japan’s economic strength has declined while China’s and South Korea’s have increased. Japan must become able to demonstrate its leadership in the economic field once again. In addition, today wars are waged via information strategies rather than weapons. Continental states are fully aware of the concept of survival of the fittest because they must withstand conflicts with bordering countries. But the island nation of Japan has lived in relative peace, so it lacks this animalistic spirit. That’s why China and South Korea are devoting huge amounts of money and labor to propaganda. They have made the world believe in the Nanking Massacre and comfort women, but Japanese people have remained spectators. Now is the time for Japan to establish a “Ministry of Information” with 3,000 staff members and a budget of 300 billion yen. Via this ministry, we should analyze and transmit information on equal terms with the world. If 100 lies are said, we should speak the truth 1,000 times. I think there would be value to devoting this much money and people to that purpose.
Marano I hope Japanese people will work hard – if a small Texan like myself is capable of something, of course Japanese people can do it too!
Motoya I understand. Let’s cooperate and work together!
Marano To prepare for this interview, I read materials including your English-language essays. The world seems to be moving in the direction of your beliefs lately.
Motoya I began the True Interpretations of Modern History essay contest in 2008. The Grand Prize was given to Toshio Tamogami, who was the chief of staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force at that time. He was dismissed from his position for that reason, which caused a huge uproar. That incident inspired a trend of growing conservatism, which also led to Abe’s second term as prime minister. Abe’s stance is one of fully combatting these fabrications, and if more money is devoted to counterattacks it may be possible for Japan to rally regarding the Nanking Massacre and comfort women stories. The witnesses to these events are still alive, so this is probably our last chance. China and South Korea began emphasizing these historical controversies not right after the war, when people’s memories were fresh, but when their memories had faded dozens of years after. I think they chose this timing on purpose.
Marano I agree.
Motoya The Kono Statement will be verified, but not revised. This statement was released according to an appeal from South Korea; Japan was tricked by South Korea, which promised it would cease bringing up the comfort women issue. In the end, South Korea uses this statement as proof for claiming that Japan forcibly transported these women. Sixty percent of the comfort women at that time were Japanese. If another investigation were to take place, it should be a thorough one that also includes Japanese people.
Marano I think this deadlock should be broken via politics. But when politicians and other prominent figures mention the comfort women issue, they are frequently made to step down from the center stage…
Motoya That is a problem with the mass media. The media outlets report critically on politicians who speak in ways that are in opposition to the media’s thoughts on the comfort women issue. Many politicians are afraid of this.
Marano I can understand that. However, truths can be conveyed to many people via the Internet. First, I hope a public opinion will be created among the Japanese people in cooperation with media outlets such as the Internet, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper, and Yukan Fuji. This will motivate the politicians. If citizens are not smart, politics will not be smart either.
Motoya We must take care because the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and Nihon Keizai Shimbun, which were regarded as neutral, are becoming biased.
Marano Yes. Still, even NHK reported on the 100,000 signatures gathered on a petition to remove the comfort woman statue in Glendale. It was nationwide news.
Motoya That was a good thing.
Marano That inspired a former Japanese solider to get in touch with Shun of the Texas Daddy Japan Secretariat, my representative in Japan, and teach him about the ads that were used to recruit comfort women. At that time, they were run in the part of the newspaper that corresponds to today’s society pages, on the bottom next to ads for pen pals, rural brides, and company employees. Each ad was met with a flood of applicants.
Motoya That’s proof that nobody was moved forcibly. There are countless pieces of evidence that verify this truth. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs committed a great sin by not properly conveying this to overseas countries.
Marano I feel that as well. However, we must do what we can from this point on. When I speak with historical researchers, there are many cases in which these documents have been known for a long time only in the academic world, but are not widely known among regular people. The researchers investigate, and my team reports. We must band together to convey the truth to many people.
Motoya I think there are still many truths throughout the world that are not widely known. It looks like the Abe administration is working to become a long-term government, and Abe has stopped speaking the truth for fear that his approval rating will decline. Regarding the comfort women, he has merely said this human rights violation “makes his heart ache.” He should also state that the comfort women were not actually sexual slaves and that more detailed research is taking place today. Regarding the Nanking Massacre and comfort women stories alike, if we do not fight back in a resolute way these issues will be prolonged forever.
Marano Regarding both the comfort women and Sea Shepherd issues, victims – the comfort women, dolphins, etc. – are created and money is raised by taking the side of justice to protect them. It’s a sort of business.
Motoya That is one type of information strategy warfare. As globalization progresses, we must fight according to the stance of the worldwide standard, not just the Japanese standard. I hope you will keep supporting Japan in the future. At the end of the interview, I always ask for a “word for the youth.”
Marano I hope that young Japanese people will have confidence, pride, and a spirit of patriotism in their own country. Looking at Japan’s GDP it is the world’s third largest economy, but it is number one or two in terms of social environments and standard of living. China and other countries have not established sufficient infrastructure throughout their entire territories.
Motoya That’s certainly true.
Marano The U.S., which has the world’s highest GDP, has a large territory and land area. It is home to ranches and farms, as well as rich natural resources. That’s why it has become number one. In contrast, Japan is a small country with few resources. After World War II, Tokyo was reduced to ashes. I think Japan was able to overcome these hurdles and become the world’s second largest economic power because of its talented people. I think Japanese people should be more proud of their own abilities.
Motoya I am aiming to revive Japan as a country that is worthy of pride. As you say there are many things that we should feel proud of, but the educational institutions do not fully teach them today. I will carry out even more vigorous activities to resolve this problem. Thank you very much for joining me today.
“Texas Daddy”Tony Marano
Marano was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1949 and moved to Texas at the age of 30. He retired in 2006 after working at telephone company AT&T for 30 years, and began posting videos expressing his opinions regarding American politics on YouTube under the handle of “PropagandaBuster.” In 2008 he began posting videos criticizing Sea Shepherd, which caused a huge response in Japan and earned him the nickname of “Texas Daddy.” The Texas Daddy Japan Secretariat was established in 2011. In addition to online videos, Marano is now carrying out a wider range of commentary activities such as publishing a serialized column in a Japanese newspaper.