Fukuyama Takes on Japanese Nationalism, His Translator, and the U.S.–Japan Alliance

Francis Fukuyama, the U.S.-born political scientist who made his name by declaring another discipline, history, to be so over in End of History and the Last Man, does not work much with Japanese issues, despite what some people assume based on his name.

But he learned something about establishment Japanese nationalism when he had The End of History translated into Japanese. His publisher chose Watanabe Shoichi [jp], an ally of Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro, to be translator. Fukuyama describes his revelation:

In the course of a couple of encounters, I heard him explain in front of large public audiences how the people of Manchuria had tears in their eyes when the occupying Kwantung Army left China, so grateful were they to Japan. According to Watanabe, the Pacific War boiled down to race, as the US was determined to keep a non-white people down. Watanabe is thus the equivalent of a Holocaust denier, but, unlike his German counterparts, he easily draws large and sympathetic audiences.

Remind me to screen potential translators later in life for holocaust deniers! But in this column, Fukuyama’s greatest insight is this: “The legitimacy of the entire American military position in the Far East is built around the US exercising Japan’s sovereign function of self-defense.”

Fukuyama makes some pretty odd assumptions in the column, including that the United States government would prefer that Japan not revise Article 9, but this observation certainly seems to support that idea.

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