Friday, August 10, 2007

Collateral Damage

For students of the psychology of Japan's modern leaders and chattering classes, this month's edition of Bungei Shunjū looks like an instant classic. A parade of notables: Ōmae Ken'ichi, Hayashi Mariko, Abe Yōko (née Kishi, the PM's mom), Sakakibara Eisuke, Sakurai Yoshiko (born in Hanoi...) write about their own or a relative's war experience.

From the titles of the articles, more than a few of these essays seem to veer into "the reasons why I am bonkers today" territory for their authors. While it is presumptuous to guess the content from the titles, of late the commentariat has been almost eager to parade about stripped of all artifice or reticence, their darkest paranoias and other shortcomings on unabashed display.

Speaking of Sakurai Yoshiko, she has been in full damage augmentation mode since the electoral loss. Her column in yesterday's Sankei Shimbun contained the helpful advice to the PM to not despair at the election results,
just stay the course for reasons that, after reading the column, remain obscure. She also has a big fat article coming out in Voice with the suspiciously broad title "Japan after the House of Councillors Election" (Sangiinsengo no nihon).

Japan, you mean as in all of it?

Coming from a country that has escaped massive bombardment or invasion for nearly two centuries and from a family without a history of combat service, I tend to forget that everyone in Japan can look to a parent or a grandparent scarred and twisted by his or her experiences during the Greater East Asian/Pacific War.

Cover images courtesy: Bungeishunju, Ltd., PHP Kenkyujo

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