Monday, December 10, 2007

Exhibit no signs of weakness

A pair of posters hanging from the ceiling on the Marunouchi Line...

On the right, an advertisement for the latest edition of Voice, PHP Sōken's contribution to the right wing communiverse (somehow Seiron, WiLL, Shokun! and Sapio do not offer enough publishing space for Japan's angry old radicals to fill). The cover article, with a flattering half-lidded photo of Ozawa Ichirō reads, "Democratic Party: the argument for decay" (suitairon).

I cannot be certain whether the article is arguing that the Democratic Party advocates decay or is its symbol--but either way, the association is between Democrats and the weakening of Japan.

But who rides to the rescue in the final article? What, it is our favorite former absolute shoo-in for prime minister, his bouncy otakuness Aso Tarō, the title of whose article seems to redefine brevity: "Tsuyoi! Nippon" ("Strong! Japan").

In the taidan article, Sakurai Yoshiko and Hiranuma Takeo get a chance to compare notes at length about the coming great realignment of the political world.

Yes, I agree. "Eeek!" is the proper response.

On the left-hand side is an advertisement for another PHP Sōken production, the history magazine Rekishi Kaidō (Eng: History Road). January 2008's special feature is a slew of articles (14? 15?) on Sakai Saburō, Japan's ultimate flying ace, the man who was always there (a pilot in China in 1939, he flew a Zero fighter during the assault on the Philippines on the Pacific War's first day of December 8, 1941) who always came back (shot in the head and with the canopy of his fighter blown away, he managed to fly his airplane 1000 km over the Pacific for four hours to a safe landing on a Rabaul airfield) and who never gave up--that last trait which seemingly turned into a bit of a problem as he, half-blind though he was, managed to participate in the final dogfight of between U.S. and Japanese forces--a Zero attack on a pair of B-32s on a photography mission over the Kantō--on August 18, 1945.

Ooops. That last little display of martial ardor seems to have got him into a wee bit of trouble with SCAP.

What was striking about the ad for the Rekishi Kaidō special edition was the repeated use of the word "akiramenai" ("never giving up") in the copy.

Because you know, sometimes you really should.*

Is this the essence of the right wing reactionary movement--a fear of weakness--a paranoia about Japan failing because of a lack of aggressive irascibility? Is this the explanation of the irruption of the cult of Shirasu Jirō over the last few years, the sudden omnipresence of a largely forgotten figure remembered now for his rebuking Douglas MacArthur when the General showed disrespect toward a gift from the Shōwa Emperor?

Is this what the abductees issue is all about? Not the search for justice and eternal repose but the flaunting of a pugnacious "you looking at me?" manner, where talking tough is just as important as being tough?

(Prior to Prime Minister Fukuda's arrival in the United States last month, Hiranuma did a tour of the offices of the Executive and Legislative branches in Washington, family members of the abductees in tow.)

The allure of displays of toughness...this would not have anything to do with the onset of physical deterioration among a number of persons who have spent their adult lives abnegating themselves to persons no better than themselves? Of the vicarious experiencing of bravery through surrogates by those who could not bring themselves to snapping back?

Because that would be absurd.

Especially because PHP Sōken is Matsushita Kōnosuke's old shop, the "PHP" being the acronym of "Peace and Happiness through Prosperity."


* In Sakai Saburō's defense, he had more of a "never say die" spirit than a "never give up" spirit. Ordered on a kamikaze mission, he took off, flew to the target area, saw the action was a waste of his life, turned around and flew back to base...which reveals a facet of Sakai's philosophy that some on the right might not want us to ponder on too deeply.

Sakai Saburō died in September 2000, passing away after falling ill during a reception at the U.S. Navy base at Atsugi.

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