Officially, the relationship between Japan and China is “somehow improving”. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is even expecting a visit by President Xi Jinping this spring.
But, frankly, the relationship between the two mightiest countries in Asia is up and down, still very complex and hardly transparent.
To date, the US nuclear-armed air force bases in Okinawa – Kadena and Futenma – are just a stones-throw away from several major Chinese cities. Kadena likes to boast, describing itself as being “the largest and most active US Air Force base in the Far East”. A few years ago, I made a documentary film about both, for the South American network – “Telesur”.
What shocked me then is still true now: Japan, which brutalized, horrifically, both China and Korea during WWII, and Japan which helped the West in its effective efforts to murder millions of North Koreans during the so-called Korean War, seems to feel no remorse or has no second thoughts about hosting the most destructive force on Earth, that of the United States. Tokyo is perfectly well aware that, that force is pointed at both China and North Korea, and even potentially at the Russian Far East. Protesters in front of both air-force bases are few, and mainly consist of old Okinawans, shouting into their ancient loudspeakers, in a grotesquely politely manner:
“Go home from Okinawa. Please go home!”
During my filming there, Douglas Lummis, an ex-US Air Force pilot who is now a writer and a professor, explained the situation to me, during my visit to the city of Nahu:
“Okinawa hosts about 75 percent of the American troops and American facilities in Japan. It’s out of sight and out of mind of most of the Japanese people on the mainland. Okinawa is a thousand miles away from Tokyo, from the capital. If you talk to Okinawans they’re angry and disappointed that for over 60 years now they’ve been asked to essentially shoulder the American-Japanese military alliance. The military alliance with America is also accompanied by what critics would say a subservient attitude towards Washington in general. Japan rarely balks against what Washington wishes on foreign policy.”
Many Okinawans are petrified. Historically, their kingdom used to be very close to China. They do not want any confrontation with the most populous nation on Earth. They know what I was once told in Beijing: if the United States were to dare to attack the PRC from Okinawa, the retaliation would be immediately conducted against these islands.
Like Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, Japan is the closest and the most determined ally of the West in the so-called Far East. It does precisely what it is told by Washington, and it hardly ever complains.
Ideologically, it had adopted the Western dogmas of anti-Communism, extreme capitalism and exceptionalism.
In fact, it often appears more anti-Chinese than even the United States.
By collaborating with Washington and London, it gets away with its own regional neo-colonialist approach.
For decades, its dealings with Southeast Asia have been thoroughly appalling, but they are never discussed in the Western or Japanese mass media. To give just one example: the Japanese car and scooter industry has already ruined all the major cities of Southeast Asia, bribing state and city governments, making sure that they do not build decent public transportation networks, instead throwing into the clogged streets, millions and millions of (old model) Japanese cars and scooters. Consequently, the environment is ruined, making urban areas like Jakarta, Bangkok and Bandung some of the most desperately contaminated cities on Earth.
The same goes for human brains. Japanese universities and institutions are selecting and funding talented and independent-minded young people, arming them with scholarships, and then re-educating them, so they do not pose a threat to Western and Japanese interests in the so-called Far East. Only a few can resist invitations to study at prestigious Japanese universities, where they are stripped of all revolutionary zeal, while offered such a toxic cocktail of academic topics such as “democracy” and “communication”. Life in Japan is comfortable, safe and easy to get used to. But the price is often steep – treason.
The Japanese regime expects the foreign subsidized students to turn into fanatically anti-Chinese, anti-Russian, and anti-Communist mainstream individuals. They are taught how to be reasonable – accepting without blinking all the crimes committed by the West and Japan itself, in their own countries and in all corners of the world.
I have witnessed the process with my own eyes: one of my film editors had been re-educated in one of such programs.
Some time ago, my friend, the legendary Australian historian, Prof Geoffrey Gunn, told me in Nagasaki something that is becoming increasingly true now:
“The fact of the matter is that China is indignant at its encirclement. China is indignant that Washington backs Japan, that Washington is ready to support Japan’s non-negotiation policy over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. So, we see, in this situation, a clearly indignant China, and Japan that is taking a basically aggressive position in relation to so-called territorial integrity. So Pacific Asia is increasingly becoming more belligerent, more conflict-prone East Asia.”
Japan’s collaboration, be it intellectual, military or economic, appears to be permanent and relentless. What was true in 2015, is even more so in 2019 and 2020. As we were inserting images from Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’ into my film with Noam Chomsky, my Japanese film editor, Hata Takeshi, commented:
“In Japan, people will not understand that the West is behind those ‘color revolutions’ and recent events in Hong Kong. Here, there is total consensus that Hong Kong was a movement for freedom and democracy. It is because there are hardly any alternative sources of information available.”
And now, on 16 January 2020, deep in Central Japan, I turned on the television set, and, to some extent masochistically, decided to view “9 News Watch”.
Anti-Chinese propaganda of the most outrageous grain, began flowing from the monitor. The voices of the presenters were soft and polite, but the message was so aggressive, so rude and one-sided, that it sent shivers all down my back. There was nothing of the refined propaganda, perfected by various big media outlets in the United Kingdom. And nothing of those pathetic US attempts to appear even-handed. This was raw stuff, like the reciting of some religious sermon. I summarize:
“Xi is a powerful and fearful figure… He is not informed well about the events in Hong Kong and Taiwan, because people are terrified of him… Because of his policies, which include the anti-corruption drive, he has an increasing number of enemies…”
The station then began broadcasting long shots of Hong Kong rioters, and those protesting against Mainland China in Taipei.
Then came Trump, introduced in the most servile and respectful way.
The announcer’s litany continued:
“US-China trade dispute… Selfish behavior of China…”
But there was, obviously “good news”, as far as Japan was concerned:
“The US is now being stricter with China… now that there are those issues of the Uyghurs… the anniversary of Tiananmen Square… of course, other countries are urging China to behave according to the international rules.”
Everything is thrown together, mixed, twisted, and delivered in a tone of voice similar to that which announces the arrival of an inter-city train.
All is done in a gentle language, but it is what it is: the relentless flow of the most dirty, aggressive propaganda.
In the end, I recall what my friend, Prof David McNeill, who used to work for the NHK, once told me:
“There is no foreign policy of Japan. They do what they are told by Washington. And there is nothing important that the Japanese television networks would say or broadcast, unless it has been aired or pronounced in the US or UK.”
I know he is right. I used to work for one of the most important daily newspapers in Japan. In a war zone. It was a long time ago, but nothing has really changed. They wouldn’t publish anything without consulting their Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. I am not joking!
Quite a democracy, I have to tell you; quite a communication.
On 30 January, 2017, RT reported:
“The neo-conservative Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think tank is on the payroll of the Japanese embassy, charged with drafting in public figures to spread anti-Chinese propaganda, investigators claim.
The Times’ investigation suggests the London-based HJS is paid £10,000 (US$12,500) per month to spread anti-Chinese propaganda, including through public figures like the former British Foreign Secretary Sir. Malcolm Rifkind.
HJS frames itself as a pro-intervention and pro-capitalist voice, which aims to spread freedom and democracy around the world. It is run by the academic and failed Tory parliamentary candidate Alan Mendoza.”
Yes, apparently Japan dislikes China so much, that it cannot produce all that anti-Chines propaganda using its own people. It needs more and more, including help from abroad. And it is willing to pay.
It must be the only occupied country on Earth, that is spending its own money to glorify its colonizer’s doctrine!
Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”