Thursday, July 25, 2013

Excerpts From The Miyazaki Essay On Constitutional Revision - An Unofficial Translation

Animation giant Miyazaki Hayao is catching a lot of grief in the social mediasphere for an essay he wrote for the July edition of the Studio Ghibli in-house magazine Neppu (Link). Writing for Japan Focus, Professor Matthew Penney examines the essay (Link) in the context of the release of Miyazaki's latest and possibly most ambitious film, Kaze Tachinu and the greater Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli oeuvre.

This below is my personal, stuttering translation of the excerpts from the essay published on page 6 of the morning edition of the Tokyo Shimbun of 19 July 2013. One of the difficulties is trying to decide what to do with Miyazaki's loose, conversational style. In the essay he is talking through writing, bouncing around among a lot of different registers. The result sounds, in my poor translation, as though Miyazaki wrote or dictated the piece while stoned.

Miyazaki's thinking is also is non-systematic and idiosyncratic, just like some of his movies (Ponyo violates the cinematic convention of fantasy worlds having at least some recognizable physical laws, leading to extreme annoyance with the film among some segments of the fan base). There is plenty in what appears below to exasperate and tick off just about everyone.
As for changing the Constitution, it is not even a question that I am against it. If one considers the election [of December 2012], the percentage of votes won and the voter turnout were both low. It is inconceivable to profit from the confusion to go about changing the constitution on the merest whim.

To legally change the stipulations of Article 96 and then doing come-what-may based upon the changes, is fraud. It should not be done. Since [altering the Constitution] is something that will determine the future of the nation, it must reflect the opinions of the greatest number of persons possible. Even though I do not believe at all that "if there are many involved it will then be correct" -- if we are going to change it, then we must have meticulous debates.

Despite this being the case, right now if someone lets the truth slip out and a big brouhaha ensues, they seem to deceptively dance around the subject, saying stuff like, "Oh, we did not mean it like that." When this happens, one just gets fed up with the lack of historical awareness and/or guiding principles among the top leaders of the government and the political parties. It is best that those lacking a capacity to think not be allowed to play around with things like constitutions.


Of course, if you line up the Self Defense Forces alongside Article 9, clearly something weird is going on. Let it be weird. There is no reason to make it into a "National Defense Military." This is because it will be incredibly idiotic to create a massive force of bureaucrats whose whose employment is military activity. Right now, watching the Self Defense Forces getting dispatched on disaster relief here and there, I feel very happy that the SDF exists. The personnel of the SDF are doing good things and doing them properly. Even when they could not avoid being sent to Iraq, they came home having not fired a single shot, without killing a single human being. I think this admirable.

After the end of the Gulf War, the dispatch of a minesweeping flotilla could not be avoided. The tiny ships silently cleared the waters that [on the surface] seemingly had no sea mines. I am sure it was terribly difficult. Then they quietly returned to port. Though I said nothing at the time, I was deeply moved.

I am not sure, when the spark of war is in fact struck, whether in that moment the articles of the constitution will be in need of change or not. What I do know is that if we decide to only defend ourselves that will be enough. Even though this means that our response will be delayed, we will not strike the first blow, and not have to defend overreaction. If we do not [limit ourselves to self-defense only], I tell you, we in this country, not used to international politics, will simply be led around by the nose. Even in the case of the breakout of war, [the suffering from our slower response] is still preferable to the alternative.


Anyway, because we have told these lies up to this point, I believe it best that we continue doing so. Those who seek consistency, they probably want to say, "Pre-war Japan was not bad." Though they say it, [pre-war Japan] was bad. If you do not recognize this, forget it. For the comfort women problem, for the humiliation of the various peoples [of Asia], we must properly apologize and must pay proper compensation. As for the territorial disputes, let us make the offer of dividing the territory in half, or make the offer of "Let's jointly administering these territories." These problems, no matter how worked up we get over them, or whether we submit them to the International Court of Justice, will not likely die down.

Certainly there are countries which are acting in an expansionist manner, just as once upon a time Japan acted in an expansionist manner. However, that does not mean we have to go to war. I honestly believe that right now, rather than [traditional security actions] we have to grapple sincerely and honestly with Japan's corporate structures. Can a country strewn with nuclear power plants like ours go to war? Absurd! That China is becoming expansionist is due to problems intrinsic to China. In addition, the internal contradictions of China are now the internal contradictions of the whole world. So it is not the case, I think, that we could settle the problems simply by increasing our stock of military materiel and changing [the name of the our forces] to a "National Defense Military."

Later - The Mainichi Shimbun English edition now has put up its account of the brewing storm (Link). Hat tip to reader JL.

Original image courtesy: The Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan


JL said...

Thank you, very valuable.

Ἀντισθένης said...

What kind of a scholar he is, I cannot say. That he has a deep understanding of the cost of war, the proper attitude both to the ambiguities in the motivations of opposing sides, an empathy for both but ambivalence to their propagandas, and distrust of militarism of any kind, is clear from a viewing of many of his movies. His arguments may be sloppy, as may be his vision; fascism is not, which has been its attraction. I feel far safer with Miyazaki than with most.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this.