Anti-Semitism in Japan

By William Wetherall

A version of this article appeared as
"Pride and sometimes prejudice in Japan" in
Far Eastern Economic Review, 138(42), 15 October 1987, pp. 52-54

Jews, most of them Americans, are coming to Japan to stop Japan from succeeding, according to Masami Uno, a Japanese neo-nationalist in the guise of a doomsday Biblical prophet. Uno's popular books and lectures warn of Jewish designs on a world in which Japan would be only a factory and its streets would be swarming with black rapists.

Uno claims that the Jews fomented the oil crisis of 1973-1974, and that the same Jews are behind the rise of the yen against the dollar, as a means of reducing Japanese profits in the trade war. He argues that the U.S.-Japan trade problem is really a confrontation between Japan and Judea, between Confucianism and the Old Testament.

Dozens of books with Jewish themes, many of them alleging a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, have appeared in Japan in recent years. Uno's bestsellers are getting the most attention because they appeal to the racialist bottom denominator of Japan's "intelligent society" by blaming Japan's real and imagined economic, political, and social problems on alien forces symbolized by the Jews.

The anti-Semitic are proving a menace for Jews in the country. Ultra-rightist groups have wired swastika posters to Tokyo telephone poles. The posters blame the Jews for rising land prices and demand that Japan protect itself from an inflow of other races. Some Jewish groups and individuals have been threated with phone calls and notes.

About one percent of Japan's 122 million population have paid an average \750 (US$5.00) to read one or more of Uno's three bestsellers. How many Japanese agree with him is perhaps less important than why they are turning to books like his in the first place.

Such books are both profiting from and contributing to the chronic zenophobia and accute anxiety in Japanese attitudes toward American and European reactions to Japan's economic success. In this sense they are a Japanese outbreak of the universal disease of the mind called paranoid escape. But few Japanese intellectuals are criticizing them, and most are overlooking their pernicious racialism and nationalism.

Uno's cries of "Jewish peril" to stimulate Japanese patriotism are hardly new. Russian-style anti-Semitism took root in Japan in the early 1920s. Nazi ideology thrived beside Yamatoism in the 1930s and early 1940s, during Japan's alliance with Germany. Then all Japanese, including colonial minorities like Koreans and Taiwanese, were taught to believe that the dominant "Yamato race" was spiritually superior to other peoples. But there was never a holocaust in the Japanese Empire, which accepted thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe.

Japanese concern about the Jews went into hibernation after World War II. It stirred again in the early 1970s with bestsellers like The Japanese and the Jews by Shichihei Yamamoto alias Isaiah Ben-Dasan, who used the Jews as a foil for his views of Japanese uniqueness. And it fully reawakened in the 1980s with books like The secret of the Jewish power that moves the world by Eizaburo Saito, a prewar educated journalist, TV commentator and scholar who has been a Liberal Democratic Party member of Japan's Upper House since 1974.

Uno, born in 1942 and a teacher of geography and history in a public high school until 1975, turned to "Jewish peril" books after half a dozen volumes on Biblical prophecy. His first two Jewish books blame the Jews for the global and national doom which their titles predict. Understand Judea and the world will come into view (A scenario for the 'final economic war' of 1990) came out in April last year. Understand Judea and Japan will come into view (When Judea takes possession of a 'hollowed Japan') followed in November.

Uno's third book, The day the dollar becomes paper (Now is the time to study Jewish wisdom), was published this May. He wrote it while aware that foreign and Japanese critics were calling the first two books "anti-Semitic" -- a label which the third book tries to reject with a title that appears to admire Judaic ideals by deeming them worthy of study. But the third book continues to blame the Jews for the world's and Japan's problems. And much more clearly than the first two books, it shows Uno's true neo-nationalistic colors.

Uno believes that the Jews plan to rule the world by controlling information, oil, grains, money, and militarily powerful countries like the United States, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China. He claims that they already run the biggest oil and grain majors and the most influential news agencies and banks, and that they control the U.S. government and key American multinationals like IBM.

Marco Polo was Jew. Columbus was a Jew. And Japan's history with the west is a history of relations with Jews, according to Uno.

The global depression triggered by the stock market crash of 1929 was precipitated by Jews. World War II was started by Jews like Franklin Roosevelt, who provoked Japan into firing the first shot.

The Americans who oversaw the reconstruction of Japan after World War II were mainly Jews who were determined to prevent the "Japanese race" from ever rising again. They replaced the ethnic starch in education with the victors' version of history, so postwar Japanese have grown up ignorant of the true causes of the war, guilty about the past, and unable to take pride in their national flag and anthem.

Uno believes that Jewish "internationalization" will further destroy Japan as a putatively monoracial state, and so Japanese must reassert their racial ethnicity in order to protect their gene pools. This racialism closely resembles the prewar Yamatoist beliefs that are held by some of Japan's most prominent intellectuals and politicians. Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, for one, believes in the superiority of Japanese spirituality and morality, and he advocates monoethnic social policies to safeguard Japan from cultural decline.

Uno claims that Jewish thought is based on eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth thinking, and that the Jews maintain their ethnic identity by constantly revenging their historical persecutors. He believes that this Old Testament idea is shared by all Middle East, European and American peoples. Japanese, he says, are taught to forgive and forget, according to Confucian teachings, which Uno states are shared by most Asians. So east and west are like water and oil.

The Jews have avenged the Holocaust by dividing Germany, splitting Berlin, and flooding the Federal Republic of Germany with Turkish immigrants and refugees, Uno writes. And FRG cannot deport such aliens because the Jews control the mass media, and through it they remind the world of what the Nazis did to them. Uno argues that because the Turks have ten kids instead of two, the Teutonic race will soon become a minority, and so Hitler's followers will never again have power.

Uno claims that the Jews are now doing the same to Japan. Jewish American lawyers and businessmen are rushing to Tokyo to buy up Japanese companies and ensure that Japan never gains control of the world's finances but continues to be a mere factory. Ambassador Mike Mansfield and most other U.S. embassy and consular officials in Japan are "of course" Jews. Practically all foreign teachers of English in Japan are Jews whose mission is to soften Japan's ethnic defenses by inculcating the minds of their students with "international" thinking.

All this is part of a Jewish plot to bring blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans into Japan's labor force, Uno states in his second book, which he was writing last September when Prime Minister Nakasone said that the United States is less "intelligent" than Japan because it has many blacks and Hispanics. Uno warns that blacks in Japan have already begun raping Japanese women with impunity, as in the 1986 case of a woman who claimed that she had been sexually assaulted by the sons of an African ambassador protected by diplomatic imunity.

Uno's zenophobia has shortened his memory of the 1981 case of the Japanese student in Paris who shot a Dutch woman then ate her flesh. By 1985, the student was walking the streets of Japan a free man.

Uno's books have aroused little critical concern. Economic affairs writer Masahiro Miyazaki mocks Uno in the title of his book, published in April this year and called If you worry about Judea the world will never come into view. Miyazaki is more disturbed by the "Japanese peril" alarmism in books like Marvin J. Wolf's The Japanese Conspiracy (The Plot to Dominate Industry Worldwide -- and How to Deal with it), published in 1983 and now out in paperback.

Miyazaki gives four reasons why anti-Semitic Japanese books can become so popular in the age of science, and why they are more widely criticized. He thinks that: Japanese intellectuals do not consider the anti-Semitic books as something they should confront; the "new breed" generation raised on computers and high tech lacks a worldview with which to resist anti-Semitism; the books could be a reaction to the over-efficiency of anti-Nazi propaganda in Jewish mass media; and even if Japanese perceive the books as basically anti-Semitic, they do not understand the implications of anti-Semitism in global politics.

Miyazaki does not say so, but such reasons suggest that Nakasone's "intelligent" compatariots do not endorse the "universal" condemnation of racialism. Many "liberal" Japanese intellectuals were silent during the 1930s and early 1940s mainly because, however much they may have disliked imperialism, they accepted the racialist ideology of the Yamatoists. Though Japanese education no longer promotes imperialism, it continues to instill Japanese with the idea that Japan is a racial victim of a hostile Euro-American world, and it fails to prepare them to critically evaluate arguments that appeal to their racial paranoia.

The late international problems critic Masao Kubota also took Uno to task for his anti-Semitism in a book posthumously published this April called The ambition of the Rockefeller empire to manipulate Judea (The final scenario to control the world's economy is completed). Kubota joined the "Jewish problem" debate in Japan during the 1970s and wrote some books criticizing the Freemasons.

Uno claims that, until the 1960s, the U.S. was run mainly by WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). Now it is in the hands of people like the Rockefellers, who Uno calls Jews in the guise of WASPS. Uno defines a Jew as anyone who embraces the Old Testament spirit of revenge and who wants to punish Confucian Japan for its past and present nationalism.

Kubota countered that the Rockefellers are the real conspirators, and that they dominate the private Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). He predicted that the war to end all wars would be fought between the Rockefellers and Israel. He even suggested that Uno's anti-Semitic books are a Rockefeller plot to cause friction between Japan and the United States because Japan was a threat to Rockefeller interests.

But Kubota's book was "ghosted" by Fumitaka Saeki, who Kubota's widow said has distorted her late husband's views. Saeki wrote in his epilogue that Karel G. van Wolferen's essay "The Japan Problem" in the 1986/1987 winter issue of Foreign Affairs, CFR's authoritative journal, "may be called a Rockefeller declaration of war against Japan." Van Wolferen is the Japan-based East Asia correspondent for the Dutch daily NRC Handelsbland. His cogent analysis of why U.S.-Japan relations are in serious trouble concludes that "the world needs a different kind of discipline" such as "an international division of labor" -- the antithesis of "Rockefeller" laissez faire capitalism.

Uno's books have brought Japan some negative publicity in foreign media like The New York Times (12 March 1987). Two Jewish congressmen wrote Nakasone a letter to remind him that it was his duty to speak out against anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith pressured Seibu Department Stores to cancel one of Uno's appearances.

During his visit to Japan in May, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was shocked to find anti-Semitism in a country that has so few Jews. "Don't let it happen here," he plead with one of his audiences. "Don't allow perverted people to pervert you. . . . Don't let your society be corrupt by these silly, absurd anti-Semitic people that you have."

Some reports have exaggerated the extent that Japan is becoming a seedbed of anti-Semitism. Such underserved attention bothers Miyazaki, who laments how Uno's books are causing the rest of the world to doubt Japan's intelligence, as Newsweek did when it observed that "if the Japanese could fall for one of the oldest canards in Western culture, perhaps they're not as shrewd as the rest of the world thinks" (23 March 1987).

"There are countries in the world that are jealous of Japan's success and are repeating untoward lies that militarism is reviving," Miyazaki writes. In conclusion he advocates that prejudice, myth and legend be cut away so that only the cold facts are left. But in all of his concern for the "ever mounting danger to [our] ancestorland" invited by ignornace, misinformation and distortion, he fails, as have other critics, to note the real danger in Uno's appeal: his Nazi-like use of anti-Semitism to arouse zenophobic Yamatoist sentiments.

The popularity of Uno's books and the scarcity of cogent criticism could be cited as evidence of Japan's intellectual poverty. "Uno's books are primitive," concluded Columbia University anthropologist Herbert Passin in the monthly Bungei shunju (April 1987). "The fact that such books are being read will affect Japan's reputation. It would be too bad if [people in other countries were to think]: 'Understand Uno and Japan will come into view'."