Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is Japan Leaning Right?

Post-War Politics

An article in the New York Times sheds some light on Japan and the rise of right-wing patriotism or nationalism, long shunned by a population after the Second World War. Of great concern is the politics of Shintaro Ishihara, a populist:
Now, at 80, Mr. Ishihara is leading a newly formed populist party and has emerged as a contender for prime minister, vowing to turn Japan into a more independent, possibly nuclear-armed nation. While political analysts deem him a long shot, they say the fact that he has gotten this far after decades of pushing what was seen as a fringe agenda is a worrying sign of how desperate this nation is for strong leadership after years of cascading troubles.
With his promises to restore Japan’s battered national pride, Mr. Ishihara has staked out an even more stridently nationalistic position than the current front-runner, Shinzo Abe, the leader of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, who has called for revising Japan’s pacifist constitution. Analysts worry that if Mr. Ishihara succeeds in his bid to become prime minister, he could weaken relations with the United States, yank Japan to the right and damage ties with China, which is already angered by his almost single-handedly rekindling a territorial dispute over an island chain.
But even if in the likely event that Mr. Ishihara loses, they say, his campaign could still have a lasting effect, bringing patriotic populism into the political mainstream of a nation that has shunned such open jingoism since its devastating defeat in World War II.
Politicians like Ishihara likely appeal to younger persons who have little knowledge of the past, or older persons who do and are resentful; in general, inflammatory language appeals to nationalistic and tribal sentiments. That Japan is considering moving right-ward is troubling both for it and for its allies. Nothing good can come out of it.

You can read the rest of the article at [NYT].