In my speech at the APA Group New Year’s party in January, I said, “We will enjoy economic prosperity this year, but I have a hunch that there will also be political chaos.” American President Donald J. Trump was inaugurated through the democratic process, but internal rifts are deepening and there are repeated demonstrations by people who oppose and support Trump. Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte also took office via the democratic process, but in the three months since his inauguration 3,000 drug dealers were shot to death without trials based on the thinking that the law doesn’t apply to them. In South Korea, a motion was filed by the National Assembly to impeach President Park Geun-hye and the Constitutional Court upheld her dismissal. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper published an article about this on its front page on March 11, entitled, “Popular Sentiment Influences the Administration of Justice.” However, judicial function is based on law and should not be impacted by the popular sentiment. One can say that democracy, in which the popular will is reflected in government according to majority rule, is better than “democratic centralism,” a type of despotic communism. Still, democracy is not necessarily the best option because a majority rule system – the fundamental principle of democracy – is biased by the instigation of the media.
Many South Korean presidents have met tragic ends. Syngman Rhee, the first president, was expelled from the country due to student demonstrations and lived in exile in the United States. The next president, Yun Posun, was ousted by a coup d’état led by President Park Chung-hee, who was later assassinated by a close associate. This ushered in the era of President Choi Kyu-hah, who was in power for a very short time before being overthrown by a coup d’état by Chun Doo-hwan, the next president. After his presidency, Chun Doo-hwan was sentenced to death for reasons such as his role in the Gwangju Uprising before being pardoned later. After Chun Doo-hwan, the sitting president was granted immunity from prosecution for a single term of five years, which has led to corruption. Roh Tae-woo, the first president chosen in a direct election, was convicted of illegally gaining wealth after serving his full term. Right after that, Kim Young-sam, a civilian president, took office. I was invited to Kim Young-sam’s home to share meals with him several times during my visits to South Korea. The Kim Young-sam administration started out with an extremely high approval rating, but it declined rapidly when the South Korean economy collapsed in the Asian financial crisis. He stayed in power for his entire term of office but his second son was arrested for influence peddling and tax evasion. He was never accused of a crime after his presidency and even served as a specially appointed professor at Waseda University. Kim Young-Sam acted and spoke in a conspicuously anti-Japanese way during his term as president, but in person he was a Japanophile who spoke fluent Japanese and said, “One must have an anti-Japanese stance to be elected president of South Korea.” He was followed by President Kim Dae-jung, who won the Nobel Peace Price for his “Sunshine Policy” of appeasement towards North Korea yet apparently paid 500 million dollars to Kim Jong-il via the Hyundai Group as a way to win over North Korea. Kim Dae-jung was not arrested after his presidency, but five of his relatives including three of his sons were found guilty of illegally accumulating wealth. Impeachment charges were filed against President Roh Moo-hyun, but the Constitutional Court decided not to impeach him. However, he leapt to his death amidst suspicions that he had accepted bribes. President Lee Myung-bak, a Korean resident of Japan who was born in Osaka, at first had a pro-Japanese stance before switching to an anti-Japanese one because he feared being arrested after his presidency, given that his brother had been arrested for illegally receiving funds towards the end of Lee Myung-bak’s term of office. Lee Myung-bak avoided arrest and came to be regarded as an anti-Japanese patriot by becoming the first sitting South Korean president to land on Takeshima and declaring that the Emperor of Japan should kneel and apologize if he wanted to visit South Korea.
Park Geun-hye saw what happened in the last stage of the Lee Myung-bak administration, so after her inauguration she suddenly displayed a clearly anti-Japanese attitude while explicitly drawing closer to China. Yet this diplomatic policy had its limits. While she was working to repair the relationship with Japan, including a Japanese-South Korean agreement, suspicions were raised about whether Park Geun-hye had allowed her friend Choi Soon-sil to intervene in national politics and receive huge amounts of money from chaebols (business conglomerates). Park Geun-hye was dismissed, which may seem unsurprising considering the tragic history of South Korean presidents. However, this incident symbolizes the unique characteristics of South Korea – Park Geun-hye, a democratically elected president, was dismissed because the media inflamed the people to protest, which influenced the National Assembly and court. Because it is a peninsular country, South Korea sadly has had no choice but to constantly ingratiate itself with its major neighbors. Its currying favor with Qing China previously triggered the First Sino-Japanese War, and with Russia led to the Russo-Japanese War. After Japan became a powerful nation, there was talk in both countries about Japan annexing Korea. A tumultuous discussion took place between the people who were for and against this. Hirobumi Ito, who was against the annexation, was consequently assassinated by An Jung-geun, who later became a hero. The annexation took place due to factors such as a statement requesting the annexation from the Iljinhoe, a Korean civilian organization. Japan intended to develop Korea like it had Hokkaido by building roads and other infrastructure, establishing many schools, and laying down a foundation for economic prosperity. But after Japan was defeated in World War II, Korea drew close to the U.S. and survived after being divided into two countries: South and North Korea. As described previously, the political affairs have been unstable as one president after another has been overthrown.
However, Japan is not in the position to merely make sport of South Korea. The March 11 edition of the Sankei Shimbun’s Morning Edition contained an article entitled, “Japan’s Dark Past Means it Cannot Laugh at Korea” (in its “Rui Abiru’s Frank Talk” column). It read:
Let us think back on the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ; currently the Democratic Party) administration that was in power until just over four years ago. Recall how Japanese diplomacy was disdained and made a target of laughter on the global stage. In February 2012, during the Yoshihiko Noda administration, a high official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Al Kamen, a famous columnist for the Washington Post, if Japan is actually an ally of the U.S. This was a ridiculous question.
Kamen was the one who described former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama as “loopy.” While in office, Hatoyama espoused the meaningless “East Asian Community” concept and withdrew Japan from the war on terror by fully ending the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s supply activities in the Indian Ocean. Regarding the issue of relocating Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture), Hatoyama hindered a resolution when he dramatically said “Trust me” to then-President Barack Obama with no idea of how to solve this problem. DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa called for a “triangular relationship” in which Japan treated the U.S. and China in the same fashion. He exasperated the U.S. by forcibly scheduling a meeting between the Emperor of Japan and then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and leading a huge group of 600 people to visit China.
The next prime minister, Naoto Kan, made an irresponsible statement during his term as deputy prime minister when he said, “There is nothing more to be done about the base issue. I don’t want to touch it. Okinawa should become independent” (Okinawa’s Right of Self-determination by Shokichi Kina, former member of the House of Councillors).
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Japan in March 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked why she hadn’t come to Japan even though she had made multiple visits to China. Merkel simply responded that she felt there was no point in meeting with Japanese prime ministers since there was a new one every year. If Japan is not careful, it will once again become a country with no presence that is ignored by the rest of the world.
I think Abiru hit the nail on the head. To prevent Japan from backsliding and to make it into a decent country, we must amend the constitution during the less than five years remaining in Abe’s three terms and eight years of Trump’s two terms. Japan must also gain military strength with offensive abilities – which provide true deterrence – to achieve peace with a balance of power.
March 11, 2017 marks exactly six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. The No. 1 Sincere Smile Beauty Championship organized by APA Hotel was scheduled for two days after the disaster. Some employees said we should cancel it because of the timing, but I went ahead because I thought we should carry out this plan – with a pervasive mood of self-restraint, even the people who were not harmed by the disaster would be affected. Even if fewer people came to watch, I wanted to do what we could. In my speech at that event, I mentioned the people who had lost their lives in the disaster. The Pacific coast of the Tohoku Region has been struck by multiple tsunamis since ancient times, but these memories fade as time goes by and some people died because they thought it was a false alarm. To assure this does not happen again, I advocated for the building of facilities that are profitable in normal times as places to evacuate, rather than massive embankments or steel-framed shelters. I wrote about my specific proposal in my essay in the May 2011 issue of Apple Town:
Considering that few tsunamis up until now have been over 18 meters tall, these disaster prevention condominiums should be six stories or taller. If a tsunami warning is given, local residents could head to the roof of a nearby disaster prevention condominium cautiously, even if they see or hear the tsunami. Building these condominiums at intervals of 200 meters as part of an urban plan with abundant greenery would ensure that anyone, at any location, could take refuge in a condominium within 100 meters in around one minute using the emergency staircase. Each disaster prevention condominium rooftop would be equipped with water and emergency food rations so that many people, even in a situation like the recent one, could calmly wait for rescue.
Now that this great disaster has occurred, land in the affected areas that has been possessed up until now for town planning could be exchanged for these disaster prevention condominiums and provided at no cost. Certainly this would make more people happy than temporary dwellings that must be destroyed after some time. Disaster prevention condominiums could be created more quickly and at significantly lower costs than huge embankments – which cost a great deal of money and time to build and block views of the ocean – or than relocating fishermen and other people to inconvenient locations on high ground far from the ocean.
However, six years have gone by and many people are still living in temporary housing, yet I have never heard that any disaster prevention condominiums have been built.
Six years ago, I also wrote as follows in my essay:
In a certain newspaper, a former Defense Academy professor wrote as follows:
The author makes it sound as if a major atomic bomb has been detonated at Fukushima.
Many news reports have stirred up fear in this way. It is thought that this was a plan by nuclear states like U.S., France, and China to foment anxiety and prevent Japan from having nuclear weapons.
The DPJ government was in power at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which it handled carelessly. The venting was delayed because Kan went to observe the nuclear power plant in the early stage of the accident. This resulted in high temperatures, and the zirconium cladding on the fuel rods had an oxidation-reduction reaction with water, producing hydrogen that built up in the buildings. This caused hydrogen explosions that dispersed radiation. The plant should have been vented promptly. If venting was impossible due to the loss of power, part of the building’s highest point should have been destroyed to release the hydrogen. The evacuation zone was set as a concentric circle with no consideration of wind direction, so some people ended up evacuating to areas with high radiation.
People were forced to immediately evacuate from areas where it seemed likely that the annual radiation dose would reach 20 millisieverts. Patients with serious illnesses and elderly persons were forcibly moved, which resulted in many disaster-related deaths. If the annual dose was 20 millisieverts, they would have been exposed to just a slight increase if the evacuation was delayed for one or two weeks. The average background radiation across the world is 2.4 millisieverts. Japan’s background radiation exposure dose is around 1.4 millisieverts (estimated in 1988 by the Inter-University Research Institute Corporation High Energy Accelerator Research Organization), yet the decontamination standard was set at one millisievert, requiring huge amounts of money and labor and producing a grave labor shortage mainly in the construction industry. Looking at how the DPJ handled the disaster, it’s certainly true that we cannot make sport of South Korea.
A major flaw of democracy is its weakness against incitement by the media. The media guides people towards a single way of thinking, which is hard to stop once it starts. The chaos in the U.S. – an advanced, democratic country – strongly suggests the difficulty of cultivating healthy democracy. But what political system is ideal for this era? If things continue in this way, the world will return to the past era of imperialism ruled by the logic of power. If Japan doesn’t act in line with this trend, its only path to survival may be as a Chinese autonomous region or American state. To prevent this, Japan must swiftly reform its constitution, revise the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan into a bilateral agreement, obtain offensive military force that provides deterrence, and serve as a leader to achieve a balance of power. After the failure of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) model in Asia, Japan should cooperate with Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other nations to build and lead a uniquely Asian economic zone. I think China could also join after its democratization.
Finally, I have an announcement to make. APA Hotel was recently the center of a scandal related to my book Theoretical Modern History II: The Real History of Japan, which says the Nanking Massacre did not take place. APA Hotel’s website was the victim of a cyber attack and we were criticized by the Chinese government, but the other day a physician sent for about 100 APA Hotels a copy of Nanking, a 1938 documentary film from Toho and guidebook. One can regard this movie as proof that no major massacre took place in Nanking. I will describe this in detail in Theoretical Modern History to be released from Fusosha Publishing on April 13, as well as Shincho 45 to be released on April 18. The film will also be posted on the Shoheijuku school’s YouTube account. I hope many people will watch it, learn the true history of Japan, and understand my way of thinking.