With an economy in the doldrums for a while now and an aggressive China moving in on Japanese territory while a weak Obama vacillates, this may be the moment for the Japanese far right to come to the fore. And the man who means to do it is former Tokyo Governor, Shintaro Ishihara.
To understand who Ishihara is, imagine if Barry Goldwater had written Catcher in the Rye or if Jack Kerouac had somehow turned into Joe McCarthy. That Shintaro Ishihara combines both figures in one man, inspiring the Taiyo-zoku or The Sun Tribe, some of Japan’s first hippies, with his novel Seasons of the Sun, and then turning into an Anti-Communist crusader and right-wing nationalist with a habit of saying things that are right up there with the American left’s worst fantasies about Glenn Beck and Pat Robertson, is a testament to Japan’s eccentric and often unusual politics.
But at 80, Shintaro Ishihara is setting his aim high. Some blame him for provoking the current crisis with China. And he may have counted on doing just that to show Japan’s need to end its dependency on America and develop its own military.
Tokyo’s former governor, Shintaro Ishihara, on Sunday set a target of seizing more than 100 seats in the next general election, providing he can form a political group strong enough to challenge the ruling and largest opposition parties.
“Of course I would like to win over 100″ of the Lower House’s 480 seats in the next national vote, Ishihara, who plans to found a new political party by incorporating minor opposition groups, said during a TV show.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s policy chief believes that whether to revise the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 will probably be a prominent campaign issue in the next general election.
For Japan to step away from its conspicuous and often obnoxious pacifism might be a good thing, but then again it might also be a very bad thing.
Shintaro Ishihara does not like America, to put it mildly, and while a repetition of World War II, even decades from now, is highly unlikely, Americans should be wary of taking Japanese pacifism or the resulting alliance for granted. Many Japanese still view themselves as the victims of unjustified American aggression. In polls, America still ranks very highly in Japan, but the population also appeared to be very positively inclined toward America before Pearl Harbor.
Japan is not likely to be a direct threat to America, but under a resurgent right, it would become a major player with an entirely different agenda. And the instability that would result from that would be yet another casualty of Obama’s weak foreign policy and obscene habits of appeasement.