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Finding A Rationale in the US Election Fiasco

Current Affairs

                                                                                                                 7 December 2020

– Special Issue No. 1 –

The salient point of on-going disputes is; Democrats are unwantedly branded the accused on this confrontational schema, since the government finally announced – the perceivable winner (but without legal endorsement). Even in the aftermath of the US Presidential Election, a political polarization was extending its force under the impact of extraordinary pandemic, which is still spreading bad news, every day and everywhere in the world. Global Coronavirus, something cannot be discussed under the normal circumstance, created a major obstacle for such important political event, as voting by mail before or after the election day had increased to an unprecedented level. 

In this prolonged unpredictability, were there any conspirators trying to plot something wrong for their political advantage? We don’t know. The investigation is under way. But so far, nobody seems to know including the US Attorney-General, except those who committed this appalling crime, and who noticed it accidentally. Was there such crime in the first place? Joe Biden doesn’t know either. He is absolutely innocent. Such a happening could never occur in any previous US Presidential Elections. The system is often criticized but it worked out well in the past. But this time, it went horribly wrong.

To defend his post, Donald Trump is the new type of American politician who brought a required stimulus to grapple with a heavily-bureaucratised system in America, expanding its negative influence since 1990s. Unlike his predecessors, he had neither experience in the Congress nor Governorship but this suddenly became advantage to him. To people’s eyes, he was an outsider to the world of this reinforcing bad politics. Not many in the old establishment welcomed him as he tried to gain some political experiences. Successful in the great city of New York and elsewhere (with some negligible set-backs), he is a proud American, and above all, one of the few who could sense such an ordeal was actually taking place in the United States – the place once deemed as the protector of democracy. 

Why is he so different from the rest? One day, his entrepreneur-father asked him to run his family business. The entrusted son then showed his business acumen as a property developer. A long-term risk that involves many people’s job, of which problems need to be dealt with a delicate and sensitive care, and responsibilities go on from the Day One to the end of ownership. In avoiding a sudden calamity, you must constantly study the relevant laws and the way of finance to protect the assets from lawbreakers. 

And yet, the value and people always change in the market. It is not a relatively safer paper (stock, bond, currency, etc.) dealings. Some say, you cannot understand economics, if you don’t know this most basic and oldest sector of business directly attached to the human progress and modernisation (since Sumer cities in Mesopotamia 3300BC – i.e., c. 2000 years before China). To be successful, you need to be not only intelligent/smart but also be sympathetic to all the people involved as leader must rely on their well-beings.

He also showed his talent in face-to-face debate, and used this strength thoroughly as he entered into the world of politics. Starting from scratch, he beat all the Republican candidates in 2016. Amazingly this was accomplished, despite the existence of a hostile news-coverage on unplausible scandals at the time. Nobody knows the intention of US media. But who knows, actually, they were supporting him by showing themselves not-like superman in front of clever people.

Equally, no other President of the United States was so constantly threatened by their own Congress on the various unfounded accusations, trying to remove him from his political career. How many of his former colleagues had betrayed him for their claimed political differences (or unknown benefit)? But he seemed to forget about all these constant allegations and nightmares, as he hits his golf ball toward blue sky…Nice Buddy!

You can only be the US President for two-term of 4 years each. His first-term presidency on all the fronts should be regarded as above the average, if not exceedingly so. He promoted Peace in Middle East and Africa, like a ‘saviour’. As pledged publicly, he made a progress for the issue of illegal immigration from the southern border with Mexico and rationalised other relationship with South American countries. To expel drug gangs and save appallingly-increasing addicts, which reached to non-negligible level, as he explained. Only unsubstantiated arguments were presented on him as a racist and anti-climate change in a constant propaganda-campaign. 

In fact, such trend of sectarian bureaucracy started in the 1990s after USA had successfully hampered Japan’s ascension to the No. 1 global economic power, after the years of frustrating trade negotiations. As if everybody became overconfident in America, the pattern of expansion in the opened US economy was gradually changing since then. A massive human resource, good or bad, were injected from all over the world, including Mafia, Triad, Yakuza and various yet-to-be classified sects. Despite the progress made by all-in-one thriving as a powerful American, soon inflation grew rapidly. Then, the public financial back-up/fiscal policy was required. And this practice became a routine and then unstoppable (like Japan). The stagnation began to destroy the balance between rich and poor (like Japan). Unknown to the public, there was no real growth (like Japan). 

Following this, South America was also inundated by such deteriorating economic trend in 2000s. In East Asia, Donald Trump finally faced up to this overwhelming but secretly-guarded problems in Japan, Two Koreas and China, by establishing a serious relationship with all of them. The warm sentiment toward him went even passionate in Taiwan, who was constantly bullied by the outdated tactics of Chinese military. Surprisingly, similar wishful thinking is also visible among Chinese intellectuals in the mainland, according to Asahi Shimbun. Why? Or what is the logic behind all these dangerous mishaps?

The previous US administration preferred pushing this grave reality under the carpet, and was too busy involved in other places such as Ukraine. (- How could Churchill have ignored Hitler in dealing with only Franco?) He treated the elected Russian leader with respect, knowing they are still important for America’s global goal. Worry for the world is, even academics in the US do not discuss on such things any longer. (Mind you, the US academics were the best at the time of Cold War.)

Above all, the determined US President brought back the Churchill’s bust to the main office of White House and took his utmost care with United Kingdom and all European allies, always conscious of their histories and sovereignties. He realistically adjusted a misguided and unnecessarily-overinflated old slogan; ‘the Greatest Country in the World’ to a more realistic; ‘Make America Great Again’. So, it is understandable that he needs 4 more years to rectify the current precarious course of US politics.

This former GCW version was once genuinely believed in Japan. And the concept was even enhancing during 1950s & 60s, under the country’s given-precious freedom of speech, functioned for the first time in its history. The Japanese economy continued its unimaginable expansion with heartfelt helps from the West. The Japanese did not know; however, this graceful politics was not only the consequences of the American diplomacy and constitution (the first amendment), but also arrived from the historical progress accumulated in the modern human history as a whole. Finally, the awoken-Japanese academics produced a stunningly seamless World/Eurasian and African history (from Japan to Britain) by the 70s. The work was absolutely required for the completion of Japanese modernisation.  But the diehard ideology didn’t go away so easily.

Meanwhile, America had to tackle, as everybody else in the world, ballooning public debts arriving from this unknown entity in East Asia. But Donald Trump seemed to understand the economic issues facing the United States is hugely global. He recognised that Britain’s leadership is again required to fix the global economic irregularity, where America should contribute as an equal partner. With his conviction and dedication, he was attending all the presidential campaigns energetically, then he caught the virus. When he showed his courage to confront the disease, in watching his struggles and responses, many Americans were inspired and motivated to support him. 

To attack and get his post, Joe Biden was selected to lead the ‘powerful-as-ever’ Democratic party. He managed to survive in a congested primary process. Initially, Barnie Saunders, a passionate socialist, led on the debate forum, despite a biasedly-claimed disadvantage that he was too old. As the rest of other young generations failed to shine, however, younger Biden’s age seemed completely vanished. Anyone who claimed that he was aiming for two-consecutive terms, however, would be too optimistic, if not lying. Indeed, he was chosen as the Stopper for the second terms of Donald Trump, the Revolutionary. The objective observation will tell us – his lame duck-presidency exists as a possibility, or might be even closer to the reality. Can the world afford this?

But why? Why the Democratic party could not send someone refreshing like FDR or JFK? Or even Harry Truman, the realist, from Independence, Missouri? Simply, because the party could not currently find any spirited-challenger like them nowhere in their bureaucratic ladder. But simple-minded privileged bureaucrats/nomenklaturas cannot run America. It was difficult to decipher Biden’s enthusiasm on any matters, other than Coronavirus, which must be ultimately relying on sometime conflicting views of physicians, and a huge investment on finding vaccine, medicine and other inventive measures in balance with actual economy. Politicians need to adjust it from the viewpoints of metaphysics but ready to be criticised everywhere by taking emotional blames and frustrations. In the States, the decision making on this issue could split between the Federal and State authorities.

His promoted image was a sort of ‘Uncle Joe’ who can be relied on anything and anytime. He has indeed a likeable character. Nobody could dispute on that. But is this good enough? The physical burden of US President could be lighter perhaps than a local Rugby player in Scotland. But we are not talking here about rugger’s capacity. Could he be the one able to match quarterback position for the winning team in Super Bowl? – had to be the question/answer for confronting the serious downward trend of the US economy (disguised by an ever-rising stock market) and its political pretence in stalemate. The danger for Donald Trump is that nobody can explain this debt-syndrome to the American and Japanese economists, when they are united and determined to ignore, as the matter is simply so deeply serious to their economic system (including their own job).

With his abundant experiences, indeed Joe Biden represents the Democratic party even more than himself. Rather than, Biden against Trump, it looked – Trump versus Democrats – as if the current global emergency implications have been completely forgotten. This was the costliest election in the world (BBC estimated as $14B) with a loophole for donation. Multiple-talented Michael Bloomberg’s entrance to the primary also enhanced an easy image of – Everybody can do it and You can try too -. This reality was indisputably acknowledged as the billionaire supporter ended up donating $100M to the Democratic party. The other Big-Apple firms also followed his example. Suddenly, ex-Manhattan magnate looks poorer in front of a hardworking political expert in the DC.

Sankei Shimbun added on this; ‘Bloomberg also donated $16M to Democrats in Florida to increase the legal voters there.’ The reporter questioned; is such thing legally allowed in America? Indeed, we perhaps need to assume that the Democrats and their supporters could have done it and all other available means in every swing-states, or even other flip states. (Why don’t you investigate your own hidden problems in Japan, instead of embarrassing our American friends?) Despite this effort, Florida vote went to the Republicans. And more money is better than no money under any circumstance. In any case, Joe Biden was luckily (or unluckily) elected to represent the Democrats. 

Usually, the US Presidential Race could reach to its pinnacle at the Presidential debate, as it could present an idea to critical casting voters, which side must be elected. In 2020, this was not the case, as they too often intervened each other. Trump tried to attack him by boasting on his own progress made. Biden perfectly defended his arguments by concentrating on the Covid-19 issue, and by not drawing into his opponent’s political agenda. He made it clear by countering the US president; ‘Will you shut up, man!’ – despite the fact that it was delivered with his impeccably-friendly tone. But from the global viewpoint, a some-worried might have asked; Is this reality in the other side of Atlantic (somewhat similar to the old Japanese way) could be eventually arriving to the British parliament?

Finally, the long-awaited election day of Nov 3 has arrived. We were all told on this Big Day that the announcement on this election’s result could be taking longer than usual, due to the counting for the extraordinary numbers of postal voting that must be also all verified. A bit more be patient than usual. But the mood has changed in the next day with uncontrollable excitements at both sides – as all records seemed to be renewed. Joe Biden with his smiling face got the largest numbers of vote in his favour in the US history. Donald Trump also exceeded his previous record. As the President and other Republicans anxiously claimed his victory, Joe Biden was trying to calm all of them down by saying; ‘Wait until every vote are counted.’

Meanwhile, incredible claims on voting fraud were already appeared in swing-states. Such as Republican officials were temporarily removed from the supervision, while the counting was still going on. Or non-eligible votes were secretly placed after the voting date, and so on. Does a public figure make such false claim deliberately on TV? – doubts came out endlessly and rumours heaped fuel on the fire. Finally, bad news struck the Trump camp; – they could be losing the biggest Pennsylvania (projected to win before the final mail-vote counting).

Without waiting for the dragging final result, however, the Biden team declared his victory based on their own projection on Nov 7, when the counting was still continuing in all the swing-states. All the major media endorsed his victory with hurray. He might have known that he had to celebrate a bit prematurely. What happened? In an absolute frenzy on the streets, SNS and by constant TV bulletins, it simply became odd, if he sits quietly and do nothing. With beautiful fireworks over the riverside of Wilmington (but no media reported if everybody could have enjoyed a well-deserved French-American dinner there under the circumstance), Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Vice President Elect, with a flavour of nouvelle politics in America, confidently declared their victory. And for sure, they would have prayed a smooth transition from the Trump administration…in due course. 

On Nov 10, by breaking the silence, G.O.P. finally made a decisive move. The US Attorney General William Barr declared that he has allowed prosecutors to probe alleged irregularities in the presidential election. This prompted the resignation of Richard Pilger in charge of the department. He explained the reason why of his decision with its legal background; ‘an important policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigation in the period prior to election becoming certified and uncontested.’ Has this timing issue some legal implications? (Now targeted as Dec 14) What is he doing now by the way? The world continues to be puzzled.

This seemed a signal for a full Republican ‘assault’. The veteran leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, endorsed the governmental decision with Senate’s majority support. It’s no longer; Trump versus Democrats but – either Republicans or Democrats – reminding us of the O.K. Corral. The Tsar of the Senate explained the reason for his judgement; ‘legal ballot must be counted and illegal ballot must not be counted. The process should be transparent or observative.’ (True.) The same night, Joe Biden issued the statement; ‘President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede victory is ‘an embarrassment’.

In the following day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and later, Vice-President Mike Pence also joined this Republican official line of – not-admitting the ‘defeat’ yet – policy in front of the media chases. The Democrats could not also go quiet. The situation is getting confrontational as the both sides enhanced their determinations. But the important question remains unanswered; Where is the proof? Some said, there was no such thing existed from the beginning. And others believed, it was already destroyed without a trace. But no one knows what will happen officially.

Nov 12 – Joe Biden appointed his veteran adviser, Ron Klein, to the key post for his Chief of Staff of White House to make sure boosting the transition process for the future Biden administration. In another words, the most baffling job to perform, like a door-to-door salesman in front of potential customer, who could shut the door at his call. As the US President Elect, Mr Biden also spoke to several World’s leaders and received cordial greetings. He was gaining his momentum when China finally congratulated him after a long lapse on the following day on 13th…Friday, while Russians kept their eerie silence.

Nov 23 – The Trump legal team headed by Rudy Giuliani, the legendary mayor of New York City, and Sidney Powell, told the reluctantly-assembled reporters that they made a very little progress on their efforts to overturn the results favourably for the President in the swing-states. Chris Christy, an experienced lawyer (barrister in UK term) and the former New Jersey (a part of which attached to Manhattan) Governor, called the confusions of president legal team a ‘national embarrassment.’ What was the real aim for this barnstorming exercise of the over-casted Trump Theatre?

Nov 24 – Giving in to the mounting pressure from all sides, Donald Trump finally conceded to Joe Biden’s demand for a formal US transition, after his victory was officially certified by the state of Michigan (but with missing gun of smoking). General Services Administrator said; they were acknowledging Mr Biden as ‘apparent winner’. At the same time, the President Trump vowed to keep contesting the election result but allowed his transition team to ‘do what needs to be done.’ Nov 25 – Joe Biden felt the Trump administration’s help with transition was not ‘begrudging’, as his newly appointed team trying to help him in achieving his goal. Some of his supporters would have shouted in his birth place of Pennsylvania – ‘Watch out, man!’

So, where are we going from here? Everybody would hope this ballot fraud investigation will be completed ASAP in America, and either Joseph R Biden or Donald J Trump could be declared as the winner of the election in a black and white manner. This could come out any time soon (in theory). Practically, however, this could be a difficult job to verify under the current behaviour patterns of the people. Even, if an illegal act was committed in the process, the investigator must produce the entire picture of the substantial fraudulent movements. Nobody can deny the possibility – this criminal investigation could take a fair amount of time to reach to a final conclusion.

There is no precedent to access this timing either. In 2000, Al Gore demanded the recount only in one state, Florida, with the involvement of the US Supreme Court. But today, there are at least 5 or 6 swing states that are targeted with public suspicions. The job could be more complicated and the time consuming. In any case, let’s hope that the results will be declared soon to make everyone happy, say sometime next week or even by early next month. In this case, you no longer need to read this article further. But we all have to be ready in case that this uncertainty is still continuing, say in the first week of January 2021. 

In any negotiation, time is always of the essence. What will happen, if the legal certificate of the fair election result still cannot be confirmed by the US prosecutor before January 20, 2021? – the transition date for the Presidency in the White House. This is a sort of the point of no return. Should the incumbent President continue to serve for the government, pending of any further legal confirmation against him, or new President Biden elect should be sworn in?

No rule ever established for such an extraordinary outcome. But what to do must be promptly decided…What’s on the President’s mind? In another words, Donald Trump as the head of the current US government remains still responsible, including to prepare for such result and reality. He must continue on temporary basis, subject to the coming legal confirmation against him if any, as the White House cannot be vacant. Joe Biden cannot take over simply because he has no legal endorsement…almost but not quite.

Under such unpredictable situation, the power of political parties at the government could overrule the standstill. Can the Democrats uphold their moral? Most people do not know if this crime happened or not. But most Americans do not want to associate with such an illegal conduct either, as it could cost them dearly under the US legal system. Unlike Republicans, some Democrats could be depressed even by the possibility to be blamed and disrespected publicly. Here the party’s integrity could develop to the matter of individual conscience in America (but this will not happen in Japan). And the negative reality might split up the power of ever-monolithic party bureaucracy.

Democrats has taken the majority of the House of Representatives but with a reduced number. The Republicans defended the Senate, as 50 of them were already elected. But in this situation, they must further extend their power in the Senate and cannot be complacent. The runoff for the remaining 2 seats in the State of Georgia is scheduled to be decided on Jan 5. Why Georgia has such irregular system? Depending on the results (one more gain as minimum), could someone ask to change the irregular system of the state of Georgia to the US Supreme Court? Unlike EU’s 27, USA have only 1 sovereignty.

With regard to the possible course of litigations, we need to recall, despite the protest from Joe Biden, Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in, swiftly just before the election. The Trump administration appointed three Republican Judges during his presidency, and Republicans have now (6 – 3) majority in the Supreme court. Legal matters should not be politics, as she declared. But this formation could facilitate Republicans, if any reasonable law suit could be launched for the election results at Supreme Court. 

In this ultimate deadlock, however, only remaining solution other than such legal battle would be a political settlement between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in direct negotiation, as this could decide one way or other in parallel with the legal process, which might run months or longer. Richard Nixon was removed from his office, while Bill Clinton defended to complete his term. As long-time politician, Mr Biden had an impeccable political career and he looks much stronger to defend himself from such a scandalous attack.

What could be brought forward as a critical subject here? In the first Presidential debate, Trump quickly touched the issue of Biden’s suspicious conduct in Ukraine. This incident was originally launched against the President by the US press as his inappropriate behaviour during the phone call to the President of Ukraine. In the final debate, The President indicated the existence of his inappropriate behaviour in China. The President Elect responded then; he never cheated his tax statement. It would be heart-breaking for both of them to fight on such issue. 

Did Donald Trump know something? Nikkei reported a long while ago; ‘The Vice President Biden visited China with his son by Air Force Two for setting a joint-venture with the Chinese state company, although his son did not make huge amounts of profit as originally planned (with all names and figures). We cannot confirm, if this is fake news or not. But they are usually reliable as Japan’s equivalent of the Wall Street Journal. While both Ukraine and China would be reluctant to comment, digging out on this forgotten matter will be the worst-case scenario. Let’s hope that this embarrassing situation will never develop in the US politics. 

Nevertheless, the decision in the US politics could affect all of us in the world. Such a general unpredictability is the emerging problem for our rapidly progressing globalisation. Notwithstanding his health issues recently raised by the Wall Street Journal – Is Joe Biden the best candidate to lead the United States in this particular time, as the Five Eyes’ tension with the increasingly militaristic China grew to an unprecedentedly dangerous level in the Asia-Pacific? Certainly, America cannot solve this issue of its manifested destiny by money alone. Above all, the political dispute should be decided without animosity in Splendid America, and elsewhere on our Earth, in particular, in order not us to become one of the plentiful rocky-stars in the Universe, whose history, we have absolutely no idea.

The Choice: Harmonious Economy or Apocalyptic Disaster

In terms of efforts for long-awaited reform in Japan, the general view seems – the government already waisted three decades, i.e. the entire 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Although those who lived during this period are fully aware of its long-overdue necessity, quasi-unknown to the Western journalism, at least three ex-prime ministers, namely, Kiichi Miyazawa, Ryutaro Hashimoto and Junichiro Koizumi had spoken out about their serious concerns on the subject of Japan’s unavoidable administrative shake-up. In the end, it seems that they tried to do something in vain, by bluntly taking their own political risks in an increasingly ‘ancient’ environment of Japanese politics. Despite the havoc, however, all these people’s representatives must be remembered in Japan.

On this essential issue, Taichi Sakaiya, a respected writer, former politician and bureaucrat, and Ryuichiro Matsubara, a pre-eminent university researcher of Capitalism, discussed about the existence of an insurmountable barriers in Japan for the November 2005 issue of Chuo Koron, one of the most prestigious monthly magazines based in Tokyo. In the special article titled: ‘Unless We Break The Spell of Company-Man Practice, Japan Must Sink with It’, Mr Sakaiya argued about the approaching downfall of the elitist Lump Generation (coined word by him) – born from 1947 to 1949 – baby boomers who contributed most in establishing Japan’s modernised economy during 70s and 80s. And those who had studied in Japan’s post-war free educational system in full advantages, as the generation were then getting leading positions in the society. He warned them with his unusually serious tone, and perhaps, as for his last hope; ‘their fate will be completely reversed in the future, when they suffer in old age, if Japan cannot launch a prerequisite reform now.’

Professor Matsubara agreed on his point: ‘so-called lifetime employment system, which is much admired and successfully kept in Japan, in fact, is also a cruel system from different perspective. In this kind of organisation, an employee has to care bosses or colleagues inside one’s own company more than anybody or anything else, such as clients, ordinary people and different opinions, all only available outside of the company. This attitude actually means to ignore much bigger opportunities in the society, since the day of one’s graduation from university.’ And he predicted: ‘Worse, the long-term relationship constantly treasured, in a manner like this, would most-likely be shattered at the time of retirement. On the other hand, they must accept a crude reality that many other existing ordinary relationships available in society become hardly recoverable for them in this accumulated pattern of isolationism’. 

The two leading intellectuals further emphasised Japan’s urgent requirements for a modern financial-investment market and for the necessary investment products to cope with the rapidly growing demand of its pension fund sector. But nobody listened to their serious warnings and most preferred to continue the old practice. Actually, Mr Miyazawa, who also served as Japan’s most credible economist, advocated the indispensable needs of such asset management policy in the late 80s, before he was appallingly attacked by a thug in public place. Mr Hashimoto thought about a deeper political issue and fully meditated in his articulate remark: ‘Japan now must launch a more radical reform than the Meiji Restoration’. And in Japanese term, Mr Koizumi represented Satsuma clan’s tradition that successfully led the Restoration. Why then nobody in the Japanese politics took any further actions on this vital issue for their unique motherland or just to follow these inspired leaders? We must perhaps think about this answer belatedly.

Few people in Europe may refute to such specific Japanese problems vis-à-vis the current smashed-status of world economy under an unprecedented pandemic by saying; every country is struggling today. Absolutely agreed. Nonetheless, the tackling problem and its acuteness are fundamentally different in Japan, compared to the West. Unknown to most people in the world, the post-war Japanese politics is still failing to establish a modern financial system, in particular, its basic legal structure. Of course, few experts may still insist somewhere in EU – we are also endeavouring to achieve it…Right.

Say, for instance, does Portugal have it? Yes, they have as a shrewd survivor but the Portuguese have to improve it all the time, like anybody else. However, Japan cannot routinely work it out with their own ambition as a modern nation, unless its essential modernisation efforts since 19th century has been duly carried out and completed. Some people may absent-mindedly believe that it was done with atom bombs long time ago. But as the Western professionals dealing with Japan on the front line of business could detect and sense it every day, the current realities are totally different from such an assertion. In this situation, we all perhaps must recollect the phrase of Yukichi Fukuzawa, a great leader for Japanese modernisation, in his master piece, The Summary of Civilised Spirit, – the society must always progress further. Indeed. But Japan is backtracking.

In looking back all the past in history since Japan’s birth as a state, the similar grave political crisis actually experienced in the 15th century. After the horrible wars and atrocities in the capital Kyoto (from 1467 to 1477), Japan was experiencing the long-term economic downturn for the first time in its history, and further declining on the way to a divided state, as the central government became quasi-nonexistence. In this critical period, thanks to the technologies and advices provided by then-rising-star Portugal, Japan was again reunited by the 16th century, and somehow saved. 

This encounter with a modern leading nation was so precious for Japan. As a proof, even the most accurate history of this revolutionary era in Japan was written by a Portuguese. He, the author of History of Japan, Luis Frois, was unknown in the world and his book was lost even in Europe. More than 400 years, his most magnificent works had been completely banished from the history. But two Japanese scholars were determined to salvage it and bring back to Japan, to complete the essential but forgotten part of Japanese history. Stunningly, the team was successful in this most challenging mission to translate the copy of his manuscripts (found by them in the Macao archives) into Japanese. And the solution for today’s crisis in Japan seems to be also written in his book as the accumulation of facts and events happened during this period. In the end, it was not a difficult issue to understand, as everybody is talking in Japan today that Japan is now going to bankrupt with this old politics. It was, and still is, simply about the matters of common sense.

A serious question must be asked also from the Asian viewpoint. In the ancient period, Japan was deemed as one of peaceful countries governed by the common religion of Buddhism spread all over China (Kara) and India (Tenjiku). Today, two counties already deserted Buddhism, while Confucianism and Hinduism are still in rife in China and in India respectively. Only Japan still uphold this so-called new India-originated religion among three nations. Despite the fact, it was all interlocked in a rather isolated religious environment in Japan, such as Shinto-Buddhist complex, which neither Indians nor Chinese can understand, or rather, are interested. Are the Japanese only the remaining extremists in today’s world? Despite no one has ever expressed such a fear, we must realise that this possibility cannot be entirely eliminated. 

Many Japanese politicians, bureaucrats and historians are still using these ancient controversial practices for the governmental function, such as the Gengo year-counting system, which was abolished in China, the original inventor, once and for all, by the early 20th century. Thinking of a possible islanders’ insularity under the misguided politics, Japan should be perhaps seriously avoiding an intellectual stalemate, and the ultimate severance from the world. For instance, can a Japanese prime minister change it to the modern calendar, just like Mao Zedong made it successfully, supported by the intellectuals such as Lu Xun, in China? Nobody ever discussed its political implications to Japan as if it was cursed even to raise a subject like this. So, we need to assume that there will be no argument even at intellectuals’ level. The politics of isolationism is almost a religion in Japan and it is all hidden impeccably far away from the modern progress.

To comprehend this fundamental theoretic issue, however, Japan fortunately have Hajime Nakamura, an incredible specialist who studied both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism and India itself, its culture, art and history. The conclusion deduced from his arduous research was broadly to confirm and reiterate the ancient historical development in the world that religious organisations cannot be financed by state, no matter how powerful they are. Therefore, religion must be supported by the rational people as individual who have equipped with common sense, which can only be obtained by the combination of physics and metaphysics as once argued by Aristotle (Yes, his precious books were once lost but then recovered in Syria only by the Islamist movement.), and all the modern nations had to follow him subsequently. 

People intuitively understood this problem in the West, as all of their ancient powerful empires had disappeared, with unstoppable corruptions, lawlessness and shameful behaviours, in the fierce competitions at early days in their own history. The West simply could not hide their inefficiency to survive. What’s the point for hiding it before the total disappearance? Almost unnoticed in the West, this inefficiency syndrome is what exactly happening in the East today. What we should be cautious about the East is, however, there is still living ‘ancient’ empire of China in full swing., which was regarded as a communist dictatorship even by the leading Western intellectuals. 

One more critical situation to be realised in the West would be, in fact, Confucius had completely disregarded Metaphysics, and so did the Chinese Buddhism and Taoism. So how could we explain even the existence of problems to people without common sense? We can only show an example for their visible impact, in believing that as a human, they will also understand it. Although you may agree or disagree, to perform this mission better, the world economy should be also reinvigorated from the current rock-bottom. How can we do that? Well, that is the question.

However, it is still important to realise that such modern principles could be possibly established in Japan. To break this enigma code, or rather, to crack this no-need-to-argue mentality hidden deep inside Japan, we need a miracle. And this revolutionary measure could be launched, only if, the Japanese are willing to act for a real change abandoning the old practices and its existing way of thinking in business, as Messrs Sakaiya and Matsubara made their profound statements 15 years ago. 

Only such revolutionary shift can save all Japanese, including every sector of business and every sect of religion, under Japan’s precious freedom of speech and religion, of course. Do nothing and simply relying on a sinking traditional politics or ancient magical power, certainly cannot be a solution for ending the current politico-economic crisis evolving from Japan to all over the world, or rather, curing from ‘Japan disease’ as World’s major financial institutions have now started calling this global phenomenon.

Luis Frois

15 August 2020

(1532 – 1597)

The Area of Expertise: Christianity/Japanese Politics and Buddhism
The Book Selected: History of Japan, Chuo Koron, 2000
Professionalism: The Jesuit Missionary in Japan (from 1563 to 1597)
Translated by the extraordinary efforts of:
Kiichi Matsuda (1921 – 1997) – Professor of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies and
Momota Kawasaki (1915 – 2019) – Professor of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

Achievements: His book is regarded by all credible authors as the indispensable materials to write about history of this most precious and inspired time in the Japanese politics. No records surpassed his detailed accounts in a rebellious, turbulent, but confident period in Japan. Especially, Luis Frois then followed up directly with two superb rulers in this so-called – the Age of Warring Countries/the basic unit equivalent to the current Prefecture in Japan. First, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru who was highly respected by his warlords and once indispensable for the Catholic Churches’ expansion in Japan. Secondly, Oda Nobunaga, the ultimate ruler of the time for Japanese reunification, by whom Frois was invited 18 times for the meeting in various different occasions. 

In 1543, a wrecked Portuguese ship arrived in Tanegashima island where they taught the technology of new matchlock-gun to native blacksmith. The Portuguese also informed them of the gunpowder and its manufacturing method. With this new weapon technology, Japan was gradually breaking the internal military deadlock among regional warlords. The encounter marked also Japan’s first direct diplomatic negotiation with the modern West. Since then, the scope of Japanese politics was also rapidly changing, where a new idea had to be injected. 

Oda Nobunaga fully took his advantages in this suddenly-emerged situation in Japan. No other warlords were so keen and interested in such matters. He was a most-rarely talented master. Without another genius, Frois, however, we wouldn’t know the life and death of these extraordinary leaders and what they were trying to accomplish in the islands state of Japan/Iapam or Nippon. 

The modern social science had finally arrived to the Japanese public arena. A degree of the depth in his analysis to understand the vital issue for Japan was perfectly unleashed in order to get accurate conclusions. Frois also tried to exercise his fair judgements, in writing with his own criticism, on all the facts over the important political events and movements that he witnessed and identified during this most significant period in the Japanese history, in a way no Japanese contemporaries could match. In this sense, his book is so remarkable and valuable to all the Japanese who are anxious to learn the nature of the Japanese politics today.

A quick review on Japanese history up to that point to better clarify his arguments for the Western readers. The state of Japan was formed by a very similar manner to what was experienced in the British and Irish Isles. 1) The various Altaic invaders entered from the Korean peninsula to the Japanese Islands as the Anglo-Saxons and other tribes did so from the European continent (from 5th to 8th century in Japan). 2) The state of Japan was firmly established in 645 and it gave Japan a similar political effect to the Norman conquest. The name of Japan became the Empire (although China preferred to call it as a ‘Country’) of Rising Sun. 3) Then, similar to the Viking (as the second wave of Germanic) invasions, many other Altaic (possibly included some Aryans too) tribes entered from the north by ships and via land, Sakhalin and Hokkaido, (from 8th to 11th century in Japan) and settled mainly in the Tohoku regions. 

How about the books on History of Japan before Frois? The people were more interested in communicating with own Japanese-syllables (devised as the first one in East Asia). The notable progress was made on prose, proverb and short poem. Among those, the world’s oldest novel, The Tales of Genji, was beautifully written by Murasaki Shikibu, a court lady. This cultural progress was also the political strength of Japan. For instance, the people of Okinawa, above all, preferred Japanese simpler writing to the Chinese. 

But there were also a few written histories made by the state. Three important books are: A) The Ancient Affairs, B) The History of Japan and C) The Later History of Japan. B) was written by authentic Chinese manner for diplomatic purpose about myths of human gods and the origin of the Japanese state. (NB – Independent Japan soon became a source of hopes among the Korean states because they all knew that the territory of Japanese archipelago was much larger and safer from China than the peninsula – despite the fact that its entire areas were yet to be measured.) A) was written in more Japanised manner, sometimes using the basic form of Japanese syllable. And, C) was later added for the backgrounds of the restructuring by Buddhism in contacts with continental powers. 

It was a credible and rather creative efforts of politics how the Japanese founders set up its own political core for the State of Japan in its geopolitical situation. Since then, the Japanese economy took a solid long-term trend upward. With a solid economic expansion up to the 13th century, a prosperity in the Tohoku countries emerged as a renowned region for its supreme products of horse, sharp sword and gold, manufactured by technologies and species brought from the continent. After having been informed by the Chinese/Altaic Yuen Dynasty, Marco Polo reported about Japan for the first time to Europe by the 14th century – as the country with a plenty of gold. 

Then, Cristopher Columbus supported by his only fund-raiser, the Queen Isabella of Spain, set sail in both believing to reach Japan or Cippangu/India, to accidentally find the American continent in 1492. The voyage also proved the globe geographical latitude of Toscanelli was right in principle but wrong in details. Following this success, the Portuguese/Vasco da Gama arrived in Calicut, India in 1498. Bearing in mind such history and the reality of Japan at the time, the policy of Portugal, and later Spain, was not to conquer this islands state but to establish a solid diplomatic relationship. 

After the arrival of Francisco Xavier in 1549, the local warlords were the most important contact to establish a church. Many people and warlords in Kyushu and the southern end of Honshu welcomed him and accepted Christianity. Since Frois’s arrival, however, the powers of the Imperial court and that of the Shogunate were gradually increasing. From the beginning, therefore, Frois had to take a political role to negotiate all the religious matters with various power-holders as an essential part of his job. Meanwhile, as a tradition, the Emperor himself (or Empress herself) was tightly guarded by his court nobles not to see ‘foreign evils’ – included the Chinese Emperor in definition. Until the Meiji Restoration, this ancient practice of diplomacy had to be remained in Japan.

The Japanese Buddhism as state religion was strengthened by Emperor Kanmu from 8th century onward. He gave his sanction to establish the Enryaku Temple on Mount Hiei to protect the new imperial capital Kyoto. Since then, to study at this religious complex was regarded as a prerequisite step to a most authentic career in Japanese Buddhism, except the older temples and their sects in Nara. 

The founders of newly-created Japanese Buddhist sects, who became influential all over Japan, were also all come out from Enryaku Temple. From a strategic viewpoint, the temples on Mount Hiei were constructed in a vital location between the capital and the road to Lake Biwa and further roads down to all Northern and Eastern regions. The drawback was, however, this castle-like place had relatively small flatland area. The Imperial court were fully aware of this potential weakness and danger; therefore, they also built much larger and extended (in terms of manpower) temples on Mount Koya – means highland – in the further south of the capital. 

The founders of these principal temple-complexes were Monk Saicho and Monk Kukai respectively, both studied Chinese Buddhism by state fund in a Eurasian/Global Empire of Tang/Altaic China. Saicho was a sincere local monk. Kukai initiated his career as an academic in Chinese studies, and his knowledge about China was much wider and accurate, so as his Chinese writing. 

To expand Christianity in competitions with such a gigantic religious reality in Japan, Frois had no other choice but to get involved in the activities of Japanese Buddhists. Due to the new spirit of Renaissance and the Reformation born in Europe, it only became possible to launch a formidable mission of religious endeavours in such extraordinary scale for the remote islands in Asia-Pacific. On the contrary, Japan was unprecedentedly corrupted in money makings in deceit, criminal activities, no modern legal system but only law of the jungle, and losing the direction in its religious faith without credible philosophy under the control of its superior politics. The grave economic uncertainty with all its perils was perhaps the main reason why so many Japanese were attracted to Christianity at the time.

According to Frois, Francisco Xavier instructed the missionary the way to preach the basics of Christianity in Japan, knowing the situation of influential Japanese Buddhism, which cannot be united into single religious concept by innated sectarianism, as follows:

  1. To verify the existence of the God Almighty.
  2. To explain that there was the beginning of the world/universe, but the world will not last forever as Japanese Buddhists insisted.
  3. To teach why sun or moon cannot be a god.
  4. To discuss about the difference between human being and human spirit.
  5. Then, to dispute against the specific assertions of each Japanese Buddhist sect.

The explanation on the Holy Trinity should be given afterwards. Furthermore, before the baptism, to emphasise the importance of ten commandments and the need of abandoning the rituals of superstitious practices. 

As a religious professional, some Buddhists understood these principles and believed in Christianity. Gradually, Japanese Christian-converted priests (i.e. ex-Japanese Buddhist monks) contributed and made a great impact on the increasing Christian population in Japan. As the number of Christians constantly grew, however, the imperial courts started to worry about the consequence. The monks of Enryaku temple were sympathetic to the visiting priests from Europe. (The Jesuits mission once believed the temple as the sole university of Japan.) But the Japanese monks categorically could not have accepted the Jesuits’ proposal to open dialogues between each other. 

The court nobles had to suppress the new Western religious movement as much as they could, to protect Japan’s traditional political system. The situation became tense all the time. As an extraordinary event, Shogun Yoshiteru was attacked in his own palace, and himself, his mother, and some of his family were killed with the injection of a massive force of 12,000 men by Miyoshi Yoshitsugu, the warlord of Kawachi/Osaka, and Matsunaga Hisahide, the warlord of Yamato/Nara in 1565. 

However, the power of the Imperial court and their warlord-sympathisers or Buddhist paramilitaries were still too weak in front of the rising military genius, Oda Nobunaga. In the midst of fierce battles for the Japanese reunification, the Mount Hiei suddenly confronted against Nobunaga by taking the side of his strong opponents in 1570. He had no other choice but to negotiate with the Imperial court and the Shogunate to save his skin. But he didn’t compromise with his determined antagonist, in particular, its military role that could paralyse him anytime. His strong army of 30,000 men led by Akechi Mitsuhide burned down all the temples on the Mount Hiei and killed many of the monks and nuns in 1571. It was an atrocious war but the repercussion to Japanese politics was far greater. 

Most Buddhists had huge manors, fields and faming lands. In terms of their armed forces, it was never straightforward issue to differentiate Buddhists from samurais, many belong to both, but it was more so because the Japanese Buddhists in principle did not forsake their military function. Some of them had own arsenals under their secretive controls including the best matchlock-guns and ninja secret services, which existed as a common practice amongst warlords at the time. For instance, Enryaku temples could assemble the army of 3,000 men. The Mount Koya was far stronger. In its history, two traditional temples in Nara were also set on fire by another ruler, Taira-no-Kiyomori, when they confronted him in 1180. 

Some of newly created Buddhist-sects also followed this military tradition. Under a hopeless economic downturn, peasants revolted the authority. Only the organised Buddhists were there to help and mediate. For instance, a powerful Honganji’s Real-Jyodo-sect, or also known as Ikko-sect, owned the hub Osaka port and castle, and they even had their own navy. From there, their huge assets and properties spread all over Japan to the extent that even the country of Kaga/Ishikawa was once deemed as their territory.

Nobunaga was a keen learner and he hated something unreasonable. He modernised his army with the help of Portuguese but even they were astonished by his navy armoured with iron-cladded ships and large cannons that forced his strongest enemy including the Honganji forces to surrender. He saw some Buddhists as the most dangerous enemy. But he also encouraged some peaceful Buddhist sects, such as Jyodo-sect. In contrast, Nobunaga was willing to support the activities of the Christian mission. 

Nobunaga invited the Jesuits to found the Cathedral (1579) and Seminary (1580) in his own capital city, Azuchi. He continued to rely on his capable Christian warlords and samurais by accepting the freedom of religion in practice. (We must admit that this attitude was quite an advanced way of thinking at the time, even in Europe.) Also a few of his family members were converted or willing to be Christian, according to Frois. The mission was getting its highly successful operations, thanks to Nobunaga. During the year of 1581 alone, more than 4,000 people became Christians in various countries around Kyoto only, the crucial areas that once regarded impossible to reach. 

Facing this new alarming situation, the Imperial court tried to negotiate with him by proposing the highest court ranks for his own choice to be the ruler of Japan. As the first individual doing so in Japanese history, Nobunaga somehow did not take their ‘final’ offer. What’s in his mind? –  confusions gradually intensified in many nobles’ mind but nobody knew the answer to that question in the ancient Japanese militarism. When Nobunaga assembled a formidable invasion force against his solely remaining adversary in the island of Shikoku, he was assassinated while staying in the capital in 1582, the year – the current Gregorian calendar was duly approved in Rome. Again, Frois was staying very close to his place and left a trustworthy description about what happened in that night and beyond.

As a most unusual event, in which Luis Frois attended, the religious-debate contest arranged by Nobunaga took place between learned monks of the largest Hokke-sect and Jyodo-sect. In the end, a decisive question was unleashed from the Jyodo-sect about the meaning of Chinese character: Myo, which had been claimed by Hokke-sect as Buddha adamantly preached it for forty-four years. But the Hokke-sect could not provide an answer to this question and they were declared as the defeated, and punished by Nobunaga. Ordinary Japanese know this popular prayer. But to understand the entire meaning of the argument in view of the Japanese Buddhism with its backgrounds, we have to further refer to the attached Herodotus’s eye of Hajime Nakamura.

Hajime Nakamura

   15 August 2020

  Hajime Nakamura

 (1912 – 1999)

Area of Expertise: Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and History of India

The Book Selected: Sutta-nipata, Iwanami Shoten, 1984, and

Hannya-Shin-Sutra, Kongo-Hannya-Sutra, Iwanami Shoten, 1960

The Ancient India, Kodan-sha, 2004

Alma Mater: Tokyo University

                                                 

Achievements: He translated Mahayana Muryojyu-Sutra and Amida-Sutra to Japanese from the original Chinese and Sanskrit texts following the progress of translations from the Sanskrit texts in Europe, which were named Sukhavativyuho nama mahayanasutram and Smaller Sukhavativyuha respectively. His translation works spread to other Sutras. In addition, he was most keen to learn the History of India as the background of his study by travelling the historical sites of Buddhism-related area of Ganges river basin and to Nepal, then, very thoroughly, to many parts of the Indian sub-continent. With his constant inquiries and extraordinary linguistic capability, he was also interested in the original texts of the most traditional Theravada Buddhism Sutras or Sutta-nipata and translated it directly from Pali. Professor Nakamura deemed it as the most important documents for understanding the Buddhism in general, despite the fact that most of these Sutras were never introduced to China.

What does this all mean? It means, this exceptional researcher concentrated on the critical religious subject with many years of his time and investment by putting them all in India, finally produced the series of books that demonstrated the essence of all about Indian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism. And the implication of his findings is not only increasingly important for the religious aspects of many intellectual Buddhists in Japan, but also its political implications of Japan and the world today.

For your own perusals in mind, our principal findings in brief are as follows:

For Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism already had existed as the most influential religion in India including Indo-European-style supreme god Dyaus, which was the equivalent of Zeus in Greece and Ahura Mazda in Persia. Together with Vedas and Upanishads, there were other religious, scientific and philosophical traditions in India. For the cultural aspect, he agrees with the Western scholars’ views on Caste that it coincided with the Indo-Aryan immigration to the Ganges river basin and the increase of mixed marriages with the natives. Importantly, while King Ashoka promoted Buddhism, he also addressed the freedom of religion. 

For instance, in reading, Sutta-nipata, the readers could immediately capture that this Sutra was written in the greater framework of Hindu religious arguments. In Indian term, Buddha was born in a rich family of Kshatriya in Nepal but he left them to be a Brahman in India. All these original details were ignored and forgotten, rather Buddha became a sort of human god in the Chinese/Japanese Buddhism. As for the decline of Buddhism in India, Nakamura found a tragic fact that once flourished activities of Buddhists in India were ended by Its own Mahayana sect who was depraved by tantrism.

On the contrary, the Sutras of Chinese Buddhism were rather detached from Hinduism. Regarding the principles of Mahayana/Chinese Buddhism, he warned us that the original Indian Buddhism texts had to be modified during the process of translation into the Chinese texts. A lot of technical terms of Chinese Buddhism could be misunderstood from the more-accurate Japanese translations, he provided. He also raised a doubt on the authenticity of the famous historical translators such as Kumarajiva and its provided meanings, which were already disputed in the academic society. Simply, it was not thoroughly scrutinised by the people. Furthermore, Mahayana means Great-Vehicle and there was little communication with Small-Vehicle of Theravada Buddhism.

Then, a sort of stunned admiration was immense and overwhelming among the aristocracy in Japan (and also in Korean states) toward the global empire of Tang China and its technologies, international culture and politics. And the new religion placed in the centre of its unprecedented power was absolutely irresistible for them to import. As a jumbled political reality, however, Tang China was getting the upper hand over India only up to 751. The decline of Tang began afterwards until its eventual fall in 907. Since then, the Japanese Buddhism was further expanded without this continental links but with its own self-generating functions. During this period, the Japanese Buddhism played a positive political role to expand the Japanese territory solidly to the Tohoku region by the 12th century.

In the process of translation, at least one or two Indian or Persian experts, many Chinese had to be involved, where the original text was bound to be sinocised. New Sutras or ideas had to be also created from the viewpoint of Chinese politics, as he noticed. For instance, the famous praying phrase of Jyodo-sect – ‘Namu-Amidabutsu’ in Japanese, which might have been discussed, in front of Frois and Nobunaga, was originally a Chinese invention by Monk Shandao. He simply preferred to put Taoist’s magical meaning to ‘Namu’ – invoking or calling – and no Chinese could have blamed him.

Indeed, not only Hokke sects but also Shinto sects used this word for their own religious inventions, suitable to the further political use in Japan. Some Japanese intellectuals were put off by the superstitious magic power of Taoism but many of them believed, Buddhism was different. The different misleading technics had been used in this process. According to Nakamura, no Chinese/Japanese can understand the ending phrase (written in many complicated but meaningless Chinese characters) of the most popular Sutra in Japan, Hannya-Shin-Sutra, which he himself was the translator. Of course, there were the meanings in the original Sanskrit texts.

Yet, the Buddhist texts were still important for the ancient Japanese to learn Chinese language for the diplomatic communications. It was not only for the sake of Japanese language itself due to its original link, but also practically Chinese remained as the most important foreign language until Japanese modernisation in the 19th century. However, we must also recognize on this specific front that the changes experienced both in China and Japan since then, have been absolutely enormous. 

Meanwhile, such ancient politico-economic requirements have been completely vanished from Japan and China today, due to their irreversible economic Westernisation and the growing international trade-obligations in both countries. From the ancient ideological viewpoint, both the suzerainty of China and quasi-suzerainty of Japan have been lost by globalisation and its newly-established business networks.

In the ancient period, China took the leadership for East Asia by providing economic model of Chinese-originated system and its advanced technologies. In the time of modernisation, however, Japan had to take the lead with its own export economy and the Japan model was duly accepted/exported to Korea and China. However, after the three decades of downward trend in Japan, it is obvious that this model had a serious defect in its management theory. It comes all from the ancient political core.

In this strictly-controlled political environment, all the Japanese critics, including all foreign correspondents and dignitaries (inclusive of the ‘mightiest’ US president), had to start the argument from this ‘defined’ starting point that Japan was already a modern country. In another words, everybody had to accept the status quo of on-going global catastrophe. From this moment of compromise onward, all the serious problems in Japan were actually hidden and the important subjects were decided for the benefits of the old divided power for further inactions. Under the circumstance, it is rather doubtful that such ‘ancient’ Japan can ever have an access to the capitalist economy itself, even on the theoretical basis.

Directly contradicting to this ‘ancient’ reality, however, no one could deny the Japanese constitution that states the adaptation of the modern principle in Japan. The principles were also accepted on behalf of the Japanese nation by Emperor Hirohito at the time of the Japanese surrender to the Allied Powers in 1945 – precisely speaking, 75 years ago. In the following year 1946, he duly declared; ‘I am not a god.’ – by breaking all the harmful ancient traditions and its malfunctions in modern times. Upon which, an unperturbed historian, Kiyoshi Inoue commented; ‘Somewhat funny but pathetic.’ Then, who wants more clarifications from the Emperor? Disregarding his decision, however, the ancient unreasonable politics had to go on and continued unstoppably. 

On the other hand, can their politicians/senior bureaucrats without power/authority be really serious to take on such profound commitments and responsibility? They need to recall with pity and sorrow all the pre-war Japanese leaders including experienced diplomats who had to take such a disastrous role. As appeared almost every day in the Japanese press, there have been no political leadership in Japan, and every sensible Japanese knew it for long time. The elected prime minister must be given the power in the parliamentary democracy. But no Japanese prime minster ever had power. From where has this kind of irresponsible mechanism arrived with a sort of ‘legitimacy’? What was the logic behind this existing political inertia? – Japanese cannot be indifferent on these questions any longer, as their society is now falling apart. 

But Japan need not to be panicking as the answer for this question is simple, and even familiar to its own history. In fact, most surprisingly, the solution was and still is in Japanese history itself – All the Japanese politicians in the post-war period actually had been acting exactly like ‘court nobles’ due to its ‘tradition’. Under the circumstance, the Japanese politicians had to ask Shogunate, or in today’s term, state bureaucracy, or further down to warlords (regional politics without a proper devolution strategy) or even the armed Buddhists (so many gigantic developments in a short-sighted plan but no people’s castles or town planning for long-term strategy) to act for them, despite the new political role defined by their new modern democracy. In other words, this invisible split of ancient power is still absolute reality in the 21st century Japan.

Indeed, the lack of understandings of this fundamental historical attempt, and the diversified misinterpretations of this ‘failure’ of Nobunaga in the Japanese society afterward, were the main cause for the absence of its functioning modern politics. We must be also aware of the fact that the Japanese modernisation was made, after a large gap of 260 years of its closed state system afterwards. Despite the modernisation efforts for 160 years, since the time of the second encounter with modern nations and the following political adjustment by the Meiji Restoration, Japan could not fill in this gap to catch up with further advanced world. 

Even disregarding the horrific failure of anachronic militarism in the pre-war Japan, the Japanese must realise that the current inexplicable stagnation also comes from the continuation of this inevitable reality. To offset seemingly impossible another 100 years, only way to match this gap is to go straight to the theoretical issue of modernisation. In order to accomplish this, therefore, Japan need to concentrate on its fundamental social infrastructure, above all, establishing a solid legal system and practice in order to strengthen its own democracy to a global standard level.

If so, there is only one solution for this mishap. To repair this malfunction or to stop this chronicle ‘modern’ disaster, Japan needs a belated religious reform, pending since the 16th century. Luckily, there is neither court nobles nor armed Buddhists today to confront this national move by force. Furthermore, all the politicians in Japan perhaps must face up to such damaging reality of the post-war Japanese politics, as testified by their most capable and conscientious leaders, instead of dodging the column for ever in pretence. 

To break this stalemate, Japan need to consider appointing a fully-modernised prime minister for the first time in their history, who could make decision with his capable advisers and own serious and rational determination, somebody like Nobunaga. But of course, Japan need a drastic reform on its workable practical structure for its real politics to function before doing so, as Mr Hashimoto had once proposed. Then, in the modern parliamentary democracy; even if he fails, or whenever he becomes inefficient, the voters can switch to appoint another capable leader.

Finally, the fundamental question still remains for our explanation. Why then Nobunaga had to rely on Christianity? Did he make any mistake here, as many had believed so then in Japan? No. He was absolutely right. Nobunaga simply had no other choice in terms of modern politics. You cannot have Chinese Buddhism/Shintoism that were subordinated by the ancient power politics without any credible philosophy in place, but existing and cuddled only in a militaristic determination. Can you explain something to someone, if he or she only believes on magical power and superstitions in this digital on-line age? But of course, many could still do it in the 16th century Japan, and we cannot blame them for that mistake.

The issue was all about the principle of human progress. It was unreasonable to refuse this reality and the hero simply couldn’t do it. If Nobunaga did, he would have killed this most brilliant part of Japanese history by himself, in changing his tale to another activities of money making first and shameful corruptions, existed then, and still happening excessively in Japan. As Nobunaga would have then thought, the religious philosophy must rule over the real politics but not vice versa. Why did he know it? Excellent question but difficult to answer. He was perhaps the one who experienced most about ephemeral nature of military successes. Or do you have any other idea?

In any case, all these issues in consideration, Japan now must take its own political initiatives for the first time in modern politics, to rectify the historical decision made by the old concept in its own history. If they could achieve it, the country definitely deserves a better status in the world, in particular, for the future of Asia-Pacific. On behalf of the entire ancient East Asia, Japan could perhaps provide a new economic model based on democracy to reform its own disastrous economy and the rest, and also in order to save Global Capitalism itself, which exists only as a fake-mode as of today. 

Covid19 and Its Political Aspect in Europe

It is often forgotten by many political commentators that the most revolutionary modern
movements of Renaissance and Religious Reformation since the 14th century onward was
launched after the arrival of the largest and longest ever pandemic of plague in Europe
(from 1346 to 1350). Statistics were still patchy indeed, nevertheless, it was claimed that
one third of the total population of Europe had to be perished. Some say, the virus had
spread from the most-extended Eurasian Empire of Mongols, which then occupied the
eastern half of today’s European continent, and China was at the eastern fringe of the
empire. As realistically depicted in Boccaccio’s The Decameron, people were struggling to
cope with their lives, while both Copernicus and Galileo were yet to be born, safe from their
insane critics.

After experiencing such agony, however, the modern spirit was created somehow by the
efforts of city states in Italy and spread to all other places in Europe who had the serious
business relationship with them. As Yuji Aida argued in Japan, ‘Renaissance and the
Reformation emerged almost simultaneously in the same sort of formation…back to its
tradition. The former was launched by the recognition of classical art and literature, the
latter by returning to the Bible from distorted medieval-teaching of priests.’


Together with the constant scientific and technological advancements, two great human
movements were trying to consolidate a new economic expansion by the emancipation of
individualism, where rulers had to give people a minimum form of economic assurance. By
the 16th century, the efforts were fortified by establishing the practices of international
diplomacy searching for eternal peace among the states that all equipped with the modern
common sense in Europe…This was a history, of course, but we need to do it again now
globally. And perhaps, in a much quicker pace.


Among the good things happening from this pandemic, everybody would agree to its
positive impact on reducing the risk of the approaching environmental disaster, while its
required economic policies are still arguable. It was not the issue at the time luckily on earth
and we cannot learn much from this history. However, how can we tackle and resolve such a
serious global issue with the current reality of the ideologically-divided world?

Yuji Aida

           Yuji Aida

                                              (1916 – 1997)

       Area of expertise: Academic Research/Renaissance and Reformation

       The Book selected: Renaissance, Kodan-sha, 1973

       Alma Mater: Kyoto University

Achievements:

It is our opinion that he analysed these two historical events most accurately as he firmly captured the existence and importance of precursory developments for both Renaissance and Reformation. It was all about the modern concept and its venture spirit, which led the world ever since.

The salient points of his findings are as follows:

1) Renaissance, or by Aida’s expression – ‘Centuries of Genius’, started in Milan first. When the power of the principal city opened for trade with all richest regions beyond its Northern Alps was taken over by, a parvenu, Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351 – 1402), despite papal opposition. He was a tough and shrewd politician and the man who promoted new trend in art and literature, and built the city’s stunning Cathedral. Galeazzo insisted that government must be a rational enterprise that had to achieve a certain economic development for every participant in politics.

 2) For the Reformation, Aida insisted that John Wycliffe (1324 – 1384) started this movement initially in England, criticizing superstitious beliefs advocated by many priests such as selling remission of a sin. Despite the threatening pressures directed to him, the conscientious arguments put forward by Wycliffe had eventually influenced even a most prominent figure of the Reformation, such as Jan Hus who was pivotal to all German/French speaking regions and its dignitaries including Martin Luther and Jean Calvin.

So, what was Aida’s personal-geopolitical advantage? For instance, what would have happened, If Yukichi Fukuzawa wasn’t born in Nakatsu city in Kyushu as Samurai-class child in his time…instead, if he was living as a Marchant-class kid somewhere in Honshu? Then, Fukuzawa couldn’t have learned Dutch properly in Nagasaki, so most likely-scenario would have been, he had to abandon his brilliant career as the fatal detriment to the Japanese modernisation.

For Aida’s case, his most extraordinary experience occurred when he was contemplating his career as university lecturer. Then, he was suddenly enlisted to join the Japanese army as a soldier in Burma (…not in China, Indonesia, nor anywhere else but), and subsequently detained in a Rangoon’s British prison camp. During this period, he vividly saw the commanding system of two (one ancient and one modern) nations in the close vicinity. In that particular time, he had convincingly learned something about modern European organisation, its philosophy and culture, which was definitely positive for writing his own version of European history with such forceful observations.

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