an article by Josh Gelernter called, “Japan Reverts to Fascism”. The author wrote with great alarm that Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and the coalition it leads recently won a large enough majority in both houses of the legislature to amend the Japanese constitution, the constitution which Japan has had since the end of World War II and which has never been amended to date. He describes all of the ways that, in his mind, Japan is reverting to a fascist state which seems an odd thing for a conservative American magazine to say about a conservative government that is America’s staunchest ally in the region and easily one of our most important allies in the world. Calling someone a “fascist” is usually the trademark of the left. In fact, today, about the only definition of a fascist is anyone who the left doesn’t like. It is a bizarre and inflammatory accusation to make just at the outset. But, he made it and so must back it up. What evidence does Mr. Gelernter present to justify such an accusation?
For the sake of a largely American audience, allow me to point to some examples that will best illustrate why this is a double-standard. Most Canadians have a very different view of the War of 1812 than most Americans. Most Mexicans think they were the ‘good guys’ in the War for Texas Independence and the Mexican-American War. Although it is not the case today, for much of American history, most British people had a very different view of the American War for Independence than most people in the United States. Does this bother anyone today? Again, until relatively recently, most Americans in the south still thought they were the ‘good guys’ and the United States were the ‘bad guys’ in the Civil War. It is actually normal for countries to have different points of view about conflicts depending on which side you were on. Now, Japan has not been entirely consistent on this point, particularly concerning the other Axis powers Japan willingly joined before the war started but it is perfectly natural for any country to give their own side the benefit of the doubt compared to others. I could also point out that China and Russia also both have different opinions about World War II compared to the western Allies but no one seems to mind that very much.
He also points to certain words and international rankings about the media to imply that freedom of the press is being restricted in Japan. He warns that the NHK, the state broadcasting network, is a mouthpiece for the government, implying that it spouts nothing but right-wing propaganda. Anyone can watch the NHK (it has an English-language channel) and see for themselves that this is ridiculous. If anything, the content on NHK is viewed by most Japanese on the political right as being skewed toward the left. This should not be considered surprising given that anyone with any honesty will say the same about the BBC in Britain, the CBC in Canada or the ABC in Australia. In the United States, given what is put out by the likes of CNN, MSNBC or FNC, I have a hard time taking such concerns about Japan seriously. The media itself is the biggest threat to a free press these days given how widespread, around the world, dishonesty and bias is. There is a reason why most Americans, in a country that prides itself on its free press, considers the media extremely dishonest and untrustworthy.
No, there is obviously a double-standard at work here and it just might have to do with those “Western European” theories about human rights Mr. Gelernter is so fond of. The nations of Western Europe and North America have, sadly, adopted a very liberal, internationalist mindset and guilt-complex that is destroying western civilization. An entire people seems bent on suicide and the people of Japan would only be showing great wisdom in wishing to take a different path. Are we holding up these same values at all anymore anyway? Freedom of religion is one Mr. Gelernter does not seem willing to extend to Japan and in the west it seems these days that some religions have more freedom than others. Freedom of speech also seems to be ever more restricted these days. Freedom of assembly doesn’t seem to be evenly applied anymore, it depends on what you are assembling for. Did anyone notice that the Bush family boycotted the recent Republican National Convention? I know, they oppose Donald Trump but it certainly paints an odd picture that a man like George W. Bush who would go to war to spread democracy would stay home and pout when the democratic process in his own party does not go the way he wanted it to.