Is war hope for some people?

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Is war hope for some people?


In January 2007, Ronza magazine, published by the Asahi Shimbun, included an article entitled, “I Want to Slap Masao Maruyama: Hope Means War for the 31-year-old Freeter.”

The author, Tomohiro Akagi, was a temporary worker who failed to find stable employment as the economic slump hit Japan when he began searching for a job. In the article, he argued, “To the young Japanese who cannot expect a better future, a war is the only hope.” Freeter is a Japanese expression for a young person who lacks stable employment.

A peaceful and stable Japan is a society only good for the haves, argued Akagi. The weak can only find escape if Japan becomes militarized and a war breaks out - resulting in many lives lost, which would ultimately make society more flexible.

Masao Maruyama is a notable postwar democratic political scientist. The essay that elaborates on these provocative ideas was instantly controversial, but at the same time, the young Japanese who share this sense of anxiety supported Akagi’s argument.

Around this time, the Civil Group was formed. It opposes privileges for Korean-Japanese, leads the anti-Korean movement and advocates a “strong Japan.” The group is organized online by Japanese citizens in their 20s and 30s, and they argue that ethnic Korean residents there are taking away the rights of the Japanese. They marched in the streets, with Rising Sun flags and Nazi swastikas.

Koichi Yasuda, the author of “The Online Rightists Out on the Streets” paid attention to their sense of deprivation and desire for recognition. “For those who can have nothing, patriotism can become the only proof of their existence,” he said.

Prime Minister Abe’s reckless move, which allows Japan the right to engage in a war, was backed by those in the younger generations drawn to destructive impulses. More than 60 percent of Japanese men in their 30s support Abe’s Yasukuni visit. And an extreme-right candidate was boosted in the gubernatorial election by young voters.

However, they are not the only voices. Nearly 1,600 students and office workers staged a protest against Japan’s right to exercise collective defense last weekend in downtown Tokyo.

The quiet Japanese also showed their anger toward the Abe cabinet on social networks, as the government made a decision that could put young people in danger. How can a war become hope for some people? They have to look straight at war with realism, not from imagination.

*The author is a culture and sports news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


JoongAng Ilbo, July 8, Page 35

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