[FOUNTAIN]Of Abe and his nationalism“Japan is no longer in the post-war period,” declared Japan’s 1956 White Paper on Economics. The paper proclaimed that Japan had overcome the devastation of its World War II defeat and entered a growth period. It was around that time that Shintaro Ishihara, the current governor of Tokyo, published “Seasons in the Sun,” a book about the liberal sex culture of the young who were not restricted by money. The liberal youth were called the “sun kids.” The Japanese economy had completely changed from the situation described in the 1947 White Paper, which described how the government, businesses and households were all in deficit. The economic boom was made possible by the policies of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who prioritized economic issues and cut defense.
The politicians evolved from the post-war ideas in the 1980s during the Nakasone government. “The Yoshida line was one-nation pacifism that entrusted the defense of Japan to the United States. It has distorted the spirit of the citizens. Citizen awareness of the country weakened as one-nation pacifism met with the socialist slogan, ‘The young, do not hold a gun,’ ’’ wrote Mr. Nakasone in his book, “The Study of Japanese Prime Ministers.” Advocating that the United States and Japan were a destined community, he broke the framework that limits defense spending to within 1 percent of the gross national product.
The Gulf War in 1991 brought a remarkable change to the post-war defense system of Japan. Tokyo felt it did not get recognition after paying 13 billion dollars of the war cost. Its self-defense force participated in UN peacekeeping operations.
Ichiro Ozawa, the leader of the Liberal Party, advocated the idea of Japan as a “normal nation.” The keys were self-reliance and international contribution.
Yesterday, Mr. Shinzo Abe was elected as the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He is the first post-war generation leader of the LDP. His campaign promise was to “break from the post-war system.” He said that things instituted during the U.S. occupation should be changed. The Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education are also objects of reform.
The national view and patriotism are also his issues. Kyoto University professor Terumasa Nakanishi reportedly had a deep involvement in the policy planning of Mr. Abe. He has called post-war democracy Japan’s foremost enemy. A conflict with the old post-war order is inevitable.
It is hoped that Mr. Shinzo’s attempt does not turn into pre-war nationalism.
by Oh Young-hwan
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.