The state, its nationals, and citizens

Miyazawa Kiichi's "practically monoethnic nation"

By William Wetherall

First drafted June 1997
First posted 18 March 2007
Last updated 25 March 2007

Two former prime ministers at even-tempered odds
Miyazawa's 1991 interview with Dave Spector
    Text and translations of "practically monoethnic nation" remark
Miyazawa's 1997 discussion with Nakasone on Constitution
    Text and translation of remarks published in Asahi book marking 50th anniversary
    Translations of remarks as published in Asahi Evening News and Japan Quarterly

Two former prime ministers at even-tempered odds

1997 marked the 50th year of the 1947 Constitution and the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education. Both had been enacted under the direction of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) during the Occupation of Japan following World War II, and 1997 was a watershed for calls by conservatives, old and new, to revise them.

Two former prime ministers, long-time colleagues in the Liberal Democratic Party, found themselves at odds over the need to revise the Constitution. Nakasone Yasuhiro (b1918, incumbent 1982-1987) led the band of revisionists. Miyazawa Kiichi (b1919, incumbent 1991-1993) lingered in the rear as though reluctant to be in the same parade -- yet he marched to the same conservative drummer.

Miyazawa and the "M" word

Unlike Nakasone, who sometimes comes across as being a "minzokuha" (ethnonational faction, i.e., race-proud) politician, Miyazawa has not that often dropped the "M" word (minzoku) in public. Here we will look at two instances when he characterized Japan as a "practically monoethnic" or "ethnically highly homogeneous" nation.

The first instance came in a 1991 interview with Dave Spector shortly before Miyazawa became prime minister.

The second came during a 1997 discussion with Nakasone about whether Japan's constitution should be revised -- Nakasone arguing pro, and Miyazawa con.

Japan as a "natural state"

The day before Asahi Shinbun began running the discussion on the Constitution, Yomiuri Shinbun published an op-ed by Nakasone calling for the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, in which he more succinctly presents his thesis of Japan as a "natural state".

Miyazawa's 1991 interview with Dave Spector

Dave Spector had a long-running feature in the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun called "Tokyo Saiban" [Tokyo Tribunal], in which he took on all manner of known personalities, famous and infamous -- and a few totally unknowns like me. In fact, his interview with me was the last in the series.

Spector snagged his interview with Miyazawa Kiichi when Kaifu Toshiki was about to step down and Miyazawa was one of the most likely successors. A regular reader of Shukan Bunshun at the time, I clipped the interview and, later, an English version which appeared in the Daily Yomiuri

Confirmation of remark

About a year later, toward the end of 1992, I called Spector to confirm that Miyazawa had said what he was reported to have said about Japan being a "hobo tan'itsu minzoku" [practically monoethnic nation]. I imagined the interview had been taped and the article edited down from a transcription made from the tape. I called Spector to be sure that the words attributed to Miyazawa were not the result of editorial liberties.

I wanted to confirm the wording because I wanted to cite the remark in a story I was writing on The Ainu nation. Spector confirmed that Miyazawa's remark was as reported, and this is how I reported Spector's remark on Miyazawa's remark (The Japan Times Weekly, 2 January 1993).

Just a few weeks before he became Prime Minister in 1991, Miyazawa told TV commentator Dave Spector, in a weekly magazine interview, that Japan was a team-work, harmony-of-all society which seldom depends on the genius of one person. He claimed this was so because Japan was "a practically monoethnic people (hobo tan'itsu minzoku)" (Shukan bunshun, 10 October 1991). "At least he said hobo," Spector told me, alluding to the time when another prime minister, Nakasone Yasuhiro, had not made even this "practically" concession.

Context of Miyazawa's "monoethnic nation" remark

Spector was talking to Miyazawa, then a candidate for the president of the Liberal Democratic Party, who as such would become the next prime minister. Spector pointed out that the prime minister is not elected directly by the people, but will be chosen by the LDP, the majority party, based more on party politics than on personal qualities that might be best for the country.

Here is the original exchange between Spector and Miyazawa that elicited the remark, with the Yomiuri version and my structural translation.


Dave Spector's 1991 interview with Miyazawa Kiichi
"hobo tan'itsu minzoku / practically monoethnic nation"

Japanese text

The interview was published in the 10 October issue of Shukan Bunshun (pages 170-174), the month before Miyazawa became prime minister. The cited exchange appeared on pages 173-174.

English versions

A not particularly close English version was published in the 23 October 1991 edition of Mainichi Daily News (page 9). To faciliate comparison with what Miyazawa said when speaking with Nakasone (see below), I have also provided my own structural translation.

宮沢   あなたもよくご存知でいらっしゃるように、わが国の場合はチームワークで生きてきた社会ですからね。ほぼ単一民族でもありましたし、一人の才能にディペンドするということは少ないんですね。チームで動いてきましたから、一人突出してある人がある才能でやっていくということより、皆の和の方が大きいという考え方をしてきたでしょう。ですから、そういうことに関係があるんです。 Miyazawa:   As you well know, the thing that moves this country is our teamwork society. We're all predominantly of one race, and we don't really need to depend on the abilities of a single person. We work as a team, so rather one person with special abilities standing out from the pack, we've come to think that the harmony of the whole is better. That's why we do things the way we do.
Structural translation
Miyazawa:   [Politics works the way it does] because, as you well know, in the case of our country, it is a society that has come to live by teamwork. It has also been a practically monoethnic nation, and matters in which [we] depend on the talents of one person are few. Probably because [we] have come to move as a team, we have come to think that the harmony of everyone is bigger than a single person protruding and a certain person proceeding with certain talents. And so [what happens in politics] has a relationship with this . (William Wetherall)


Miyazawa's 1997 discussion with Nakasone on Constitution

Ironically, Nakasone was the sort of prime minister whose talents and autocratic impulses protruded. It took all the teamwork of the Liberal Democratic Party, including Miyazawa, to keep a tight rein on Nakasone's desire to lead Japan as he saw fit.

The 1997 discussion between Nakasone and Miyazawa on the need to revise the Constitution suggests that Nakasone's embrace of statism -- his belief that the state knows what is best for the people -- is closely related to his confidence that he knows what is best for both.

While Miyazawa demurred at some aspects of Nakasone's statism, he had no difficulty falling into step with Nakasone's view of Japan as a racioethnic Gemeinshaft. He readily agreed with Nakasone that Japan has become the sort of country it is because over the centuries it has been a highly homogeneous ethnic nation.

"Shimin" (citizen) as a concept

During the 1997 discussion, Nakasone touched upon the concept of "shimin" (citizen). He has long had problems with the word "shimin" -- not its specific use in Japanese law to designate a "min" (person) affiliated with a municipality called a "shi" (city) -- but its use in political philosophy to mean a "member of a civic community" in the broadest sense.

"Citizen" as a concept does not reduce to "citizen" as the term used in American English, say, to mean someone who is legally a "citizen" of the United States or a "citizen" of California or whatever. Nor is the term "shimin" linked with what in international (and U.S.) law is called "nationality" (kokuseki) as an attribute of affiliation with a state, rather than "citizenship" as a set of rights and duties associated with affiliation. In Japanese, someone who possesses Japan's "kokuseki" (nationality) is called a "kokumin" (national) -- not a "shimin".

"Shimin" (city affiliate) as a legal term

As a legal term in Japan, "shimin" means only a person affiliated with an administrative entity called a "shi" or "city" -- as opposed to a "cho" (town) or a "son" (village) -- whose affiliates (min) are called "chomin" or "sonmin". The affiliates of "ku" (wards) within large cities are called "kumin".

All such local municipalities are affiliated with a prefecture (to-do-fu-ken). Hence people affiliated with shi-cho-son are also affiliated with a prefecture. As such they are called "tomin", "domin", "fumin", and "kenmin" -- according to the kind of prefecture. All prefectures are "ken" except Tokyo-to, Hokkaido, Kyoto-fu, Osaka-fu. People who are also members of population registers affiliated with Japan's sovereign territory -- i.e., family registers in the municipalities of the prefectures -- are also "kokumin" -- which means "affiliates" (min) of the "country" (koku, kuni) as a state, hence "nationals".

"Shimin" (citizens) versus "kokumin" (nationals)

Nakasone, and to some extent Miyazawa, have difficulties with "shimin" as a conceptual term because it seems to transcend "kokumin" as a concrete term. Affiliation with an abstract civil community, as extensive as humanity at large, is potentially stronger than affiliation with a state as a legal entity. Thus emphasis on the rights of "shimin" could weaken the state as a nexus of solidarity based on a common language, culture, and historical experience of "kokumin" as an ethnic Gemeinshaft.

For Nakasone, "kokumin" binds the "min" with the state, whereas "shimin" binds the "min" with "shi" as an abstract civic community -- and entity other than the state. The idea that a person is first a citizen of the world, say, than of a state, threatens the integrity and authority of the state. The term "shimin" also weakens the racioethnic bonds implicit in "minzoku" (ethnic nation) -- which Nakasone considers, in the case of Japan, congruent with (but not equivalent to) the "kokka" (state).

"Shimin-byo" (citizens-disease)

In the 1997 discussion between Nakasone and Miyazawa, Nakasone refers to the "shimin-byo" (citizens-disease) he felt was infecting the more liberal wing of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party at the time. While Miyazawa is reluctant to view the concept of "shimin" as a political pathology, he too says he prefers not to use the term.

Lost in translation

Readers at the mercy of English-language reports about Japan may have difficulty grasping Nakasone's views of "shimin" for two reasons: (1) writers are apt to use words like "state" and "country" and "nation" and "people" and "citizen" and "nationality" and "citizenship" very casually, thus obscuring the technical differences between such words, and (2) translators are likely to feel they have the license to disregard the structural integrity of Japanese texts and hence be inconsistent in their renderings of words and phrases.

Many writers and translators, influenced by American usage and not particularly mindful of technical usage, equate "national" and "nationality" with "citizen" and "citizenship". They are likely to translate "kokumin" (national) and "kokuseki" (nationality) as "citizen" and "citizenship", and may further complicate matters by treating "kuni" (country) and "kokka" (state) as synonyms and conflating such terms with "nation".


1997 Nakasone-Miyazawa discussion of Constitution
As published in Asahi Shinbun book marking 50th anniversary

Japanese text

The Japanese text is a transcription of the entire last section of Chapter 1 of the following book. The book contains an expanded and revised version of articles serialized between 22-26 April 1997 in Asahi Shinbun as "Tokubetsu taidan: Kenpo 50 nen" [Special discussion: The Constitution at 50 years]. The moderator of the discussion was former Asahi Shinbun Political Desk chief Wakamiya Hirofumi (若宮啓文).

Nakasone Yasuhiro and Miyazawa Kiichi
Tairon: Kaiken / Goken
[Discussion: Revise Constitution / Protect Constitution]
Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun sha, 1997
207 pages, hardcover, pages 23-27

憲法大論争:改憲 vs. 護憲
207 ページ、文庫
Nakasone Yasuhiro and Miyazawa Kiichi
Kenpo daironso: Kaiken vs. Goken
[Great Constitution controversy:
Revise Constitution vs. Protect Constitution]
Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun Sha, 2000
207 pages, paperback (bunko)

English translation

The entire translation is mine. As usual I have stayed very close to the Japanese phrasing and metaphors in order to capture their style and usage.

Such structural literalness results in an "artificial" rather than "natural" English -- but the purpose here is to mirror, in English, what Nakasone wrote in Japanese -- not morph Nakasone's Japanese into structurally different English.


Throughout the following translation, as far as possible, I have mapped the same Japanese phrases and same Japanese words into the same English phrases and words. The following list shows the most important terms.

国      kuni        country (noun), national (adj)
国家    kokka       [the] state [Constitution]
国民    kokumin     [the] nationals [Constitution]
国民性  kokuminsei  national character
国籍    kokuseki    nationality [Nationality Law]
無国籍  mukokuseki  without nationality [stateless]
- 民    - min       - affiliate
市民    shimin      1. affiliate of "shi" (city) polity [legal term]
                    (not meaning as used in following texts)
                    2. citizen of civil community [not legal term]
                    (meaning as used in following texts)
市民病  shimin-byo  citizens-disease
住民    jumin       residents
民族    minzoku     ethnic nation
民族性  minzokusei  ethnicity
人種    jinshu      race [Constitution]
共同体  kyodotai    Gemeinshaft [community, commonwealth]
同胞愛  dohoai      love of fellow countrymen
                    [love of those from same racioethnic womb]
文化    bunka       culture
伝統    dento       tradition
歴史    rekishi     history
運命    unmei       destiny [fate]
人民    jinmin      [the] people
人類    jinrui      humanity [humankind]
人間    ningen      humans
人      hito        persons
個人    kojin       individuals
自由    jiyu        liberty
民主    minshu      democracy
平等    byodo       equality
平和    heiwa       peace
家庭    katei       home [family-courtyard]
天皇    tenno       tenno [emperor, empress]
主権    shuken      sovereignty
English translation intentionally rendered very literally
Text from hardcover edition (pages 23-27) Translation by William Wetherall

第一章   改憲か護憲か


Chapter 1: Revise Constitution? Protect Constitution?

What kind of state to aim for?
[Moderator]:I would like to have you carefully discuss the issue of the Constitution and security later, but before that, please let me hear [your opinions] about the relation between the Constitution and the image of the state you feel there should be. Whether Mr. Nakasone of the revise-Constitution view, or Mr. Miyazawa of the protect-Constitution view, I would think that, as a matter of course, what Japan of the future should be, becomes a premises. In that sense, what kind of country do you think Japan should to aim to be?


しかし、市民といっても国家に生きている人間、つまり住民なんです。家庭というのも国家の中の非常に重要な一単位です。そういう意味において国民国家は継続している。二十一世紀にかけて超国家的団体(国連や、EU などの地域連合)にある程度国家の役割を任せようとする動きが出てきているのは事実ですが、国家は厳然として存在している。だから国家論をもっと見極めて正当な位置を与え、明らかに定めておくべきだと思うんです。




Nakasone:   What I would like to say before that, is that what has been most lacking in postwar Japan's society, academia, and journalism is a discourse on the state [kokkaron]. This [is because] the influence of Marxism has been very great. The state so-called is an apparatus of evil for class dominance. Because there has been such a proposition, [people] dislike making the state an object [of discourse].

So the term state nationals [kokka kokumin] has vanished and the term citizen [shimin] has emerged [come up to the surface], and standards for properly evaluating the thing called a state are lacking. To begin with, that sort of education is lacking. And in that there is a very large lack.

However, though calling them citizens the humans who are living in the state, are after all residents [jumin]. What is called the home [katei] is also a very important unit within the state. In such a sense the nationals state [kokumin kokka] continues [succeeds, goes on]. It is a fact that movements have appeared which during the 21st century will attempt to entrust to some extent the role of the state to super-state organizations (the United Nations, and regional alliances like the EU), but the state solemnly exists. Therefore I think [we] should more thoroughly examine and give proper status to, and [more] clearly determine, the discourse on the state.

In that sense, underlying any discourse on the Constitution there has to be discourse on the state [(we) cannot proceed if at the base of discourse on the Constitution there is no discourse on the state]. But in reality discourse on the Constitution without discourse on the state is rampant [traversing]. There's a need to to more thoroughly examine the character, and distinctive qualities, of Japan as a state, which underlie [exist at the base of] the Constitution of Japan. I think what is [exists] at its foundation is the concept of Gemeinshaft.

[We] say the Liberal Democratic Party [Jiyu Minshu To], but the liberty [jiyu] and the democracy [minshu] do not immediately link. As for why things that do not [immediately] link, link, that is because there is a Gemeinshaft, there a group that has the same language and culture and the same destiny. Because [the group] shares [the same] destiny love of fellow countrymen [love of those from same racioethnic womb] is born. When love of fellow countrymen is born, the concept of equality [byodo] whereby [the group] does not abandon unfortunate persons [ki no doku na hito] is born. In particular Japan has received the influence of Buddhism, and historically the concept of equality is very strong.

The concept of a single Gemeinshaft that shares such a Japan-esque destiny, is born from history and tradition. Correctly respecting history and tradition is conservatism [hoshu shugi]. Therefore, I've consistently been saying "neo conservative liberalism" [shin hoshu jiyu shugi].

However, in the Constitution of postwar Japan there is no discourse of Gemeinshaft. There, there is practically no concept of history or of tradition, of culture, in the Constitution. If I may say so, [the Constitution] is stateless [without nationality]. The Fundamental Law of Education is also [stateless]. When [we] begin to consider the Constitution, [we] have to consider what is called Constitution enactment authority. That is, there is an authority, power to make a written constitution. This is something that the French political scientist [Maruice Duverger (b1917)], and professor Miyazawa Toshiyoshi [1899-1976] at the University of Tokyo taught us. And when sovereignty resides in the populace [shuken zaimin], the people [jinmin] have the authority to make the Constitution. And yet, we have come to be content with and extol a cut-flower Constitution. In that sense there's a need to look once more at a discourse of the state, a discourse of Gemeinshaft.
[若宮]:政界再編のなかで「小さくてもキラリと光る国」とか「普通の国」とか、いろいろな人がこれからの日本のイメージを言っていますが、中曽根さんは一言でいうと......。 [Moderator]:   In [the talk about] political reorganization various persons are speaking of the image of Japan hereafter as "small but glowing country" and "an ordinary country" and such, but Mr. Nakasone, if you were to put it in a word . . . .
中曽根:私はよき伝統とか歴史を重んじ、平和にして自由民主主義の人権を尊ぶ、しかも小さい政府で、国際貢献を重視する国を望みたいですね。 Nakasone:   I hope for a country that values good traditions, and history, is at peace and respects the human rights of liberal-democracy-ism, and moreover is a small government and views international contributions as important.
[若宮]:先ほどの「国家論が欠落している」という批判は、いまの加藤紘一幹事長ら自民党執行部にも矛先が向けられているように聞こえましたが。 [Moderator]:   [In] the earlier "a discourse on the state is lacking" criticism, I heard what seemed like a spearhead pointing toward Liberal Democratic Party leaders, Chief Secretary Kato Koichi and others.
中曾根:それゃそうですよ。いまの執行部は市民病に伝染している(笑い)。 Nakasone:   That's true of course. The present leaders are infected with citizens-disease [shimin-byo] (laughter).
宮澤:加藤君が中曽根さんを批評するときに、「まず国家があって、その下に国民というものがあるという考え方には抵抗がある」と言ってますね。つまり、中曽根さんは国家共同体論、あるいはナチとかムッソリーニらの全体主義的思想の残滓をしょってませんかと、加藤君は批評しているんでしょう。しかし、昔そういう時代を経験してきた私に言わせると、その批評は少し酷ですね。 Miyazawa:   When Kato comments on Mr. Nakasone, he's saying "I have some resistance to the way of thinking in which there is first a state, then under it something called nationals." That is, Kato is commenting that, isn't Mr. Nakasone thinking too highly of state Gemeinshaft discourse, or vestiges of the totalitarian thinking of the Nazis and Mussolini and others? But if I, who experienced that period in the past, may say so, that comment is a little severe.
中曾根:国家と国民は同時に成立する。市民は国民共同体の上にあるものですよ。 Nakasone:   The state and nationals [kokumin] form simultaneously. Citizens [shimin] are something above the nationals Gemeinshaft [kokumin kyodotai].
宮澤:ちょうど中曽根さんと私は同じ時代に大学にいまして、そのころ国家論というのはずいぶん盛んに行われていましたが、あのころの日本は天皇主権の国だった。筧克彦さんという憲法学者が黒板に円を描いてその中心が天皇だと力説していましたが、私にはわからなかった。しかし、いまは国民主権の国でしょう。だから、いわゆる国家論が欠落しているという話しではないと思いますよ。主権者ははっきりしてますから。議論されるべきなのは、どのような連帯の方法を考えるかということだと思う。歴史共同体的な連帯もあるし、いわゆる市民連帯というのもあるでしょう。 Miyazawa:   Mr. Nakasone and I were in university at the just [that] same period, and discourse on the state was going on pretty actively, Japan at that time was a country of tenno sovereignty [tenno shuken]. The constitutional scholar Kakei Katsuhiko [1872-1961] drew a circle on the blackboard and stressed that its center was the tenno, but I didn't understand. However, now its country in which nationals have sovereignty. So I don't think it's a story in which he so-called discourse on the state is lacking. Because the sovereigns [shukensha] are making it clear [what they want]. I think what should be debated, is the matter of what sort of method of solidarity to consider. There is a history-Gemeinshaft-like solidarity, and there is a so-called citizen solidarity [shimin rentai].


Miyazawa:   As for me, all in all, I think the solidarity in which an ethnic nation with a high degree of homogeneity has lived together for a long time, and shares [the same] destiny, would be okay. Above that being good or bad, because that's how it is, such a solidarity exists. It's not that [I] am ignoring culture or tradition, rather, because it is the case they are made on such things, I would think that's okay.

On the other hand, from the past I have sensed that in the world citizen [shimin] there has been something French revolutionary. In Japan when [people] say citizen, citizen, I somehow think [they are] somewhat trying to evade the ethnic nation and the destiny Gemeinshaft [unmei kyodotai]. I dare not say populism (laughter) but it's a bit on that side . . . . Therefore, I too do not much want to use the word citizen.

As the country is formed from each and every national, it is not the case that the country existed a priori (innately) [a puriori (senten-teki)]. What Kato wants to say is probably that, individuals exist, and that is what makes what is called the country. That is the part I can sympathize with. Individuals make the country, and that Gemeinshaft with various unity, solidarity produces links, I would think it is okay to say.
[若宮]:宮澤さんはこの憲法の下でどういう国をめざすべきだ、と。 [Moderator]:   Mr. Miyazawa, what sort of country do [you think Japan] should aim [to be] under this Constitution?
宮澤:私は、いま日本がこれだけ成熟した社会になってますから、やはり一人一人の個人が自分で責任を持ち、各々の人生観と生活設計を持って、その人その人の貢献を社会のためにしていく、そういうことが可能な国にしたいと思いますね。 Miyazawa:   As for me, because now Japan has become this mature a society, of course, each and every individual oneself has responsibility, and has a respective view of life and life plan, and [we] proceed with this and that person's contribution for [the good of] society, [and I] would like a country where that sort of thing is possible.
中曾根:それは夜警国家論という古い国家観ですね。日本はアメリカのような契約国家ではなくて、千数百年の歴史の中に形成された自然国家なのですよ。実相からものを考える必要がある。ケ小平の実事求是ですよ。 Nakasone:   That's an old view of the state called the night watchman state discourse. Japan is not a contract state like America, but is a natural state that was formed during a history of one-thousand and several hundred years. There's a need to consider things from realities. [That's] the confirm facts seek truth [shí shì qiú shì] [maxium] of Deng Xiaoping [1904-1997].
宮澤:それは違う。二つのことが混同されていると思います。民主主義の下では憲法を作るのは国民である。憲法を定め、それによって政府を選ぶ力の源泉は、国民にある  ー  プウヴァル・コンスティテュアン  ー  、そしてそれによって憲法や政府がつくられる  ー  プウヴァル・コンスティテュエ  ー 、このことを国民主権と呼ぶのであって、その点はアメリカでも戦後の日本でも同じことです。


[ 第一章 終わり ]
Miyazawa:   That's different [from what I'm saying]. I think two things are being mixed together. Under democracy those who make the Constitution are the nationals. The source of the power to determine the Constitution, in accordance with it chose the government, exists in the nationals -- pouvoir constituant [constituent power, constituting power] -- and in accordance with that the Constitution and the government are made -- pouvoir constituee [constituted power] -- [we] call this thing nationals sovereignty [kokumin shuken], and as for this point America and postwar Japan are the same thing.

Of course as is said by Mr. Nakasone, whereas our country is one in which an ethnic nation with a high degree of homogeneity has come to live together, and make culture, through tens of centuries, as for America [only] two-hundred and some years [have passed] since many ethnic nations and races gathered and founded the country, there is that difference in history, and the way the country was made and the content of its culture are not homogeneous. But, saying that, there is no change in the matter of "nationals make the Constitution", and it is not the case that the state and the constitution existed before the nationals.

[ End Chapter 1 ]


1997 Nakasone-Miyazawa discussion of Constitution
As published in Asahi Evening News and Japan Quarterly articles

Japanese version

The Japanese version appeared in the Asahi Shinbun a few days before 3 May 1997, the 50th anniversary of the formal start of the 1947 Constitution. I am sure I clipped it -- as I habitually clipped all such features -- but it is not in my files of constitution clippings. I will get another copy the next time I am at the National Diet Library newspaper reading room.

English versions

There are two English versions -- and both exemplify why most English translations cannot be trusted as faithful mirrors of Japanese expression. This is not a statement about differences in Japanese and English -- but a comment on the poverty and low expectations of translation standards.

The second (Japan Quarterly) translation appears to be better controlled in terms of one-to-one mapping of key Japanese terms into English. Still, the lack of agreement between translators -- to say nothing of the lack of agreement within the mind of a single translator -- cannot help but engender confusion in the minds of readers who know that country, state, nation, national, and nationality have different meanings in technical discussions of law and politics -- and are not interchangeable.

Translations that interchange such terms without regard to their technical distinctions are tantamount to interchanging resistor, capacitor, and inductor -- or voltage, current, and charge -- in a discussion of an RCL circuit.

Asahi Evening News translation

The Asahi Evening News version, based directly on the Japanese version, appeared in the 1 May 1997 edition of AEN (page 8). The translation appears to have been done by AEN staff, as there is no translator attribution.

Japan Quarterly translation

The Japan Quarterly version appeared as two articles in the July-September 1997 issue (Vol. 44, No. 3). This journal, which ended with Volume 48 in 2001, was published by Asahi Shinbun Sha (Asahi News Company).

The first article, by Nakasone Yasuhiro, was called called "Rethinking the Constitution (1) -- Make It a Japanese Document" (pages 4-9). The second article, by Miyazawa Kiichi, was called "Rethinking the Constitution (2) -- A Document Tested by Time" (pages 10-14).

Though both articles were clearly adapted from the Asahi Shinbun discussion, Japan Quarterly did not disclose their source but merely attributed their translation to Takechi Manabu.

Concluding graphs only -- not complete articles
Asahi Evening News translation Japan Quarterly translation
Q:   Before we discuss this issue, I would like you to share your views of what kind of nation Japan should aim to be.
Nakasone:   I want Japan to be a peaceful and free country with a small government that places importance on international contribution, while valuing its good traditions and its history.

What has lacked most in the country's post-war journalism was debate on how the nation should be. Due to the negative effect of Marxism that depicts government as an evil mechanism, the concept of state and people was replaced with the word citizens, which sounds more pleasant.

However, the fact remains that Japan exists as a state. The foundation of the state lies in its community that is bounded together by its history and tradition. However, the current Constitution has no references to history or tradition, and is stateless.
What do I think the ideal image of Japan should be? Ours is a nation that prizes the best of its traditions and history, that treasures peace and liberal democracy, small government and international contributions.

What is most lacking in the postwar society and journalism is discussion about the "state." Partly due to the influence of Marxism that views the "state" as the apparatus of evil, words such as "state" and "nation" are rarely used; nowadays people seem to like the ring of the word "citizen." However, the state is an entity that still exists in full force. It is basically a community with a unique history and traditions. The present Constitution evokes no trace of Japanese history and traditions; it is a "nationless" law without any sort of recognizable cultural face.
Q:   Is your criticism also leveled at the Liberal Democratic Party's leadership headed by Secretary General Koichi Kato?

Nakasone:   Do you think so? (laughs)

Miyazawa:   I believe that Mr. Kato means to say that Mr. Nakasone's belief that the state comes before the people is a totalitarian way of thinking. For a person like myself who lived through an era where the government drafted people with a piece of paper, what Mr. Nakasone said is a bit too severe.

Nakasone:   The state and the people exist together. Citizens exist because the national community is at their root.
Miyazawa:   With its sovereignty lying with the people in Japan, as opposed to pre-war and wartime era, when sovereignty belonged to the emperor, I don't believe that this country lacks the concept of state. What is necessary is for people to discuss what kind of solidarity they want to develop. There may be a kind of solidarity that binds groups together so that they share the same fate or a kind of solidarity that civic groups have.

As far as I am concerned, the Japanese people's sense of solidarity is based on the nation's long history, one that is shared by people who have a high degree of homogeneity. I don't think that my argument ignores (the country's) culture or tradition. Rather it is based on them.

Getting back to the question of what kind of nation I want Japan to be, I would say that, since Japan has become a mature society, it should seek to be a country where individuals can be responsible for themselves and can have their own values about life and personal goals, and where the individual can make a contribution to the nation in their own way.
Unlike before 1945, sovereignty rests with the people; it no longer resides in the person of the emperor. I do not think this represents a tendency to take the state any less seriously. What the people need to discuss among themselves is what kind of solidarity they want to embody; what kind of union they want to represent. They may be united as a people sharing the same fate as a nation. Or they may form bonds of solidarity as citizens.

The sense of solidarity built up by a people of relative homogeneity over the centuries, living together, sharing the same history on the same archipelago, may be enough. This view by no means disregards tradition and culture; rather, it is based on them.

Let me conclude by commenting upon what Japan should be like in the future. Today, Japan is mature enough that every individual can pursue his or her own goals with responsibility. Everyone now can hold a view of life and chart a life course. Each one of us can contribute to society in his or her own way.
[Note: This graph actually appeared before the above two graphs. I have moved it down to facilitate comparison. ]