October 29, 2002
JAPAN'S SELF-RESTRAINT:The View From The Other Ground Zero (Doug Struck, October 28, 2002, Washington Post)
The awful fireball that engulfed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, introducing the atomic age with a mushroom cloud, has for decades propelled the leaders of that southern Japanese city to preach against nuclear weapons.
Hiroshima's current mayor has taken the role a step further. At his annual speech at the anniversary of the bombing, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba made international headlines with his biting criticism of American foreign policy and, by implication, its war on terrorism.
"The United States government has no right to force 'Pax Americana' on us, or to unilaterally determine the fate of the world," Akiba declared. The speech has brought a torrent of reaction -- most of it positive, he says -- in Japan, and a chill from the United States. [...]
His sharp critique of America is uncharacteristic of Japan's polite society, and despite the support for his remarks, the mayor says he has felt the weight of disapproval from some countrymen.
"I didn't realize that the pressure not to criticize America was so strong," he acknowledges. "In Japanese society, where restraining oneself is a virtue, there is a strong tendency to restrain from criticizing the United States."
Tell it to the people of Nanking. Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2002 4:07 PM