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Hitler and the Japanese election

"Der Führer Koidzumi" - apparently not an idea original to CASS

Following the victory of Koizumi and the Liberal Democratic Party, the academicians at the Institute of Japan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have written editorials for several publications that continue to stress the "remilitarization" line they've been using to depict Japan for quite some time now. In an article in The Beijing News, Jin Xide writes:

In its foreign affairs strategy, Japan may accelerate its pace toward becoming a "political power" and a "military power." Koizumi has declared that he will not conduct "constitutional reforms" during his term in office. But the ruling alliance now has the required 2/3 seats in parliament to carry out the "constitutional reforms," so progress toward "constitutional reforms" may accelerate. At the same time, Japan will continue to dedicate itself to strengthening military relationships, increasing its troops overseas and its interventionist strength, and promoting the "Security Council Entry" process.

Liu Junhong, writing in the CASS-sponsored weekly China Business, echoes similar statements, but predicts that continued American antagonism toward Chinese manufacturing will drive China and Japan closer together economically.

Also in China Business is an article written by academician Feng Zhaokui, who comes up with one of the more off-the-wall analyses of the election. Feng, apparently taking a cue from ousted LDP politician Shizuka Kamei, titles his essay "Let's hope it's not another 'Hitler Phenomenon'." Danwei has taken the liberty of translating this piece below, leaps of logic intact.

Let's hope it's not another "Hitler Phenomenon"

by Feng Zhaokui

On 11 September, an unusually heated electoral battle broke out in Japan. As a result, Koizumi's political gambit paid off, "dramatic politics" were unnaturally effective, and idealist politicians met with rejection. Japanese media reporting used words like "overwhelming," "avalanche," and "record-breaking" to describe the victory won by Koizumi and the LDP. The conservative Sankei Shimbun ran a headline on the front page that read "LDP Wins It All, Swallows the Archipelago," and said that there was a "cataclysm in Japanese politics."

Failed Democratic Party representative and set-to-resign leader Katsuya Okada said, "Although we showed voters the blueprint for how we were going to lead them into the future, our efforts fell short. We were not strong enough." Japan is now much further away from the "two party playing field" that some people had previously predicted.

Asian media continued to worry about the possibility of a further rightward shift in Japan. Many papers in Korea published editorials and critical essays concerning Koizumi's victory in the election, saying that Koizumi's politics will move toward the right in the realm of international affairs, and that Japan will follow the US in militarization, revise its pacifist constitution, and trumpet nationalism. As a result, the framework of east-Asia will be damaged and Korea-Japan and Sino-Japan relations will deteriorate even further. An editorial in Korea's JoongAng Ilbo said, "It is evident that from this point Koizumi and the LDP will take a further step toward the right;" they could possibly move more quickly on the shrine issue and constitutional reform, shaking east-Asian international relations. Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao suggested that the Japanese ruling party may attempt to force through its constitutional revision program. Korea's ruling party also expressed its concern about Japan's conservative, rightist development.

In actuality, Koizumi has already declared that Japan will further increase cooperation with the US on all levels, including military cooperation. Japan's "9.11" election can't help but remind one of elections in Germany in January 1933. In several areas, the two elections are distressingly similar:

  • They both occurred after a country, defeated on the battlefield, took steps to wipe away national humiliation and rise again;
  • In both situations, a country shamed in military defeat felt persecuted, giving rise to politics of emotions, especially with regard to neighboring countries;
  • In both situations, this "public pathos" was tapped to become an essential element in the political contest for votes, in the suppression of rational politics, and in the push toward a hawkish road;
  • In both situations, a banner of reform was flown and the "ultra-appeal" of a party head was used to encourage voters to elect them; that party leader was a crafty, masterful actor during the electoral process;
  • Both situations used the dissolution of parliament to give the ruling party an overwhelming majority of seats;
  • They both want to revise the constitution to give their leadership and their successors more power, and to normalize the military by resurrect the nation's army.

While in Japan, and even within the LDP, it has not been merely one lone politician calling Koizumi "another Hitler," (primarily out of displeasure with his dogmatic political maneuvering), it is probably premature to conclude that, in his foreign affairs strategies, Koizumi is preparing to go to war as "another Hitler." We still need to carefully examine the kind of foreign affairs policies this new Koizumi administration follows after its ascension, and we must carefully examine what kind of successor Koizumi chooses.

In conclusion, the people of Asia and of the entire world should hope that Japan's "9.11" election is not the reappearance of a "Hitler phenomenon." At the same time, looking at the many similarities that exist between the two, we cannot help but be alarmed. Like the feminist Doi Takako exclaimed on the Japanese political stage, "It's not normal. Where are the two large parties? This is merely a one-party autocracy. This nation is in danger." Reportedly, there's a feeling of discomfort brewing even within the LDP. Will Koizumi, this super gambler, eventually go so far as to bet the entire LDP?

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