December 28, 2004


Alternative to fading away (MASAMICHI HANABUSA, 12/28/04, The Japan Times)

In the annals of mankind, various nations that rose and fell over centuries are recognized for what they left for posterity. The Romans laid the foundations of Western civilization with Roman Law and built the infrastructure that enabled the spread of Christianity. The world owes the British for the parliamentary system of democracy. The Americans will probably go down in history as the nation that developed the most destructive military power.

Seen on the scale of millennia, the Japanese have developed a unique continuous civilization, absorbing various foreign cultures. But as things stand now, Japan may register in history as a nation that saw a spectacular rise for a while in the 20th century but then faded away with the gradual decline of its population.

There is, however, a very important enterprise for which the Japanese may be recognized centuries from now. The Japanese people could contribute toward the realization of political, economic and cultural equality among the peoples of the world. If future generations of Japanese make a conscious effort to continue the achievements of their forebears, this enterprise may give our people a place on the honor roll of world history.

With the exception of Darwinists, who have to believe it for their own dogmatic reasons, is there anyone who thinks Japan will realize that alternative? Or that it will much register in history after it's gone?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 28, 2004 8:21 PM

Please list all the nations of the past that are 'gone' for the reasons you keep alleging.

The world does not work that way. At least, it never has until now.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 28, 2004 8:43 PM

Hark, a dogmatist...

Posted by: oj at December 28, 2004 8:53 PM

Japan like many nations of East Asia is so inward looking that their impact on the world is at most derivative. The Japanese will never take the initiative on anything. Population growth or decline ain't got nothing to do with it.

Posted by: Bart at December 28, 2004 9:05 PM

So lets' see. Democracy, a tiny minority of nations in 1940, was installed in Europe and Japan by US bayonets, protected there until it could be spread to Eastern Europe and Latin America by US power, and now sweeps into Ukraine and the Middle East, on a tide of Big Macs, Levis, Ipods, US movies, TV, and music, CNN, and that Internet thingie I still haven't figgered out.... and "The Americans will probably go down in history as the nation that developed the most destructive military power."

Good God, these people will simply never quit with their cute little "truth is just a construct" crap. It'll never end. Never.

Posted by: Andrew X at December 28, 2004 9:33 PM

Andrew X has the right idea, but I've got to take it and run with it. The United States, as the True West, has realized millenia of progress (real progress, not B.S. Left-wing nostalgia) and created the power to save humanity from atavistic barbarians like some we shall not name who were butchering Chinese, raping Koreans, and testing their poison gas on staked-out P.O.W.'s.

Could it be that some of these barbarians are so insensitive to our beneficience as to not understand that were it not for our Christian forbearance their primitive language woud now be spoken only in Hell?

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 28, 2004 10:15 PM


I'd like to see one example one of the cultures that Japan has absorb over the millenia. I guess there is the culture they got from Admiral Perry but somehow I doubt that's what he meant.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 28, 2004 10:46 PM

Annoying Old Guy: I assumes he means Chinese and Bhuddist cultures. The book, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples, by Hajime Nakamura, describes the process and the Japanese author is surprisingly candid about his country's linguistic and cultural deficiencies.

I'm still pretty steamed about this one. If it weren't so cold in my town right now, I'd be out looking for a Mitsubuishi automobile to smash up with a baseball bat. At is it, I'm going to have to settle for going down to the kitchen and taking a hammer to a can of Three Diamonds tuna.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 28, 2004 11:17 PM

Andrew and Lou: I feel for you, I really do, but I think we have to take the Japanese's opinion as to why they've been sucking up to us for the last 60 years.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 29, 2004 7:49 AM

"gradual decline of its population." ?!

"an average of 1.3 children per woman", that's a Darwin boggling 35% shortfall. How steep does his path to Hell need to be for Mr. Hanabusa to scream? He lives in a ancestor worship culture that has a huge lack of desire to -be- ancestors.

Posted by: Ripper at December 29, 2004 9:26 AM

The author missed the obvious: Japan will be credited for creating the most destructive military force in history; the US Armed Forces.

Posted by: Genecis at December 29, 2004 10:44 AM

Japan had extensive contact with Portugal and Spain in the 17th century, abosrbing technical knowledge and even Christianity without being colonized. Japan also absorbed much of Western culture after Perry, especially British and German achievements during the Meiji Restoration. Before the occupation, they did not absorb much of American culture, but they have been playing baseball since the 1890's. It seems to me that the author is accurate in his statements.

It is ironic to see people complain at how "derivative" Japan, or even all of Asia, is when that was the knock against the US by Europe until WWII. As four our Christian forbearance in sparing Japan after the war, I wonder if we would not have shown Japan the same forbearance we showed towards the American Indian had the threat of the Soviet Union not influenced our decision. It is right to defend America's virtues and triumphs, but it is wrong to ignore our own capacity for darkness.

Declining populations will hurt to a point, but by the time the ill effects become prominent, we will begin to see how crises can renew a culture by creating its own response. Since Japan's geography precludes a successful invasion and they have not endangered themselves through unrestricted mass immigration, the survival of the Japanese is assured. Europe will face much greater challenges.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at December 29, 2004 11:00 AM

Ah, so you cannot think of any examples.

Me neither.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 29, 2004 2:58 PM

They absorbed enough Christianity to make it a capital crime for anyone who wasn't Dutch and visiting Nagasaki, and picked out the British and German achievements which best suited their desire to continue a miltaristic tradition. As for American Indians, since we weren't ever interested in the same territory the Japanese occupied, the attempted comparison is a meaningless speculation of the moral relativist variety.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 29, 2004 3:22 PM


My point is that secularizing these societies has made them uniquely driven to cultural suicide.

Posted by: oj at December 29, 2004 3:50 PM

"The Japanese people could contribute toward the realization of political, economic and cultural equality among the peoples of the world."

As reflected in the casual and unashamed racism that is still so common in Japan? As a tourist you may be an "honored guest," even perhaps if your skin is dark, but in other situations you may find things not so pleasant. Then of course there is the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. I do not wish to exaggerate these problems in any demonization of Japan, but the author is far too complacent.

Posted by: pst314 at December 29, 2004 9:15 PM

Hanging on too long to your religious sensibilities has led to cultural (and actual) extinction, as witness the Albigensians.

But the view that it can be done through secularization is mere speculation. It hasn't ever happened.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 29, 2004 10:58 PM

It's happening.

Posted by: oj at December 29, 2004 11:47 PM