How do you say, “Speak Victorian” in Japanese?

Japan’s Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said Saturday that he thinks the dropping of atomic bombs by the United States in the closing days of World War II “could not be helped” as it was aimed at preventing the Soviet Union from entering the war against Japan.

“I understand the bombings brought the war to its end. I think it was something that couldn’t be helped.”

The United States “dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki although it knew Japan would lose the war” without having to resort to using an atomic bomb, Kyuma said.

Noting that the Soviet Union was preparing to wage a war against Japan, he said the United States must have thought the use of an atomic bomb could prompt Japan’s surrender, thus preventing the Soviet Union from carrying out its intentions.

“Luckily Hokkaido was not occupied. In the worst case, Hokkaido could have been taken by the Soviet Union,” he said. “I don’t hold a grudge against the United States.”

This is a perfectly valid reasoning that, frankly, I agree with. It’s how many Americans justify Hiroshima. But for the minister of a relatively unpopular government to make this remark weeks before a national election in a country where more than 80% of the public believes the atomic bombing was the indiscriminate massacre of ordinary citizens just moments before national defeat that is not justified for any reason.

The watchword of this blog has long been one of Robert D. Kaplan’s “top ten rules”: Speak Victorian, Think Pagan. Policymakers must have the freedom to think of all possibilities and options, unrestricted. But never speak outloud: the public isn’t ready to hear it, your enemies will have access to inner thoughts, and the substances of the debate will get lost in the controversy. Defense Minister Kyuma should continue to think pagan, but always speak Victorian in public.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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17 Responses to How do you say, “Speak Victorian” in Japanese?

  1. Peter Pan says:

    Right on.

    The truth will not save you from the apposition parties in Japan. It’s really no suprise though when the same people are calling for Abe to step down and ‘take responsibility’ for the current nenkin problems that were created over 30 years ago, they just discovered while he was in office. It’s funny though when they scream at him about his approval ratings, and they haven’t managed to control the diet for practically 50 years. Not really a position to be talking.

  2. Aceface says:

    The most interesting thing of all is this chap is from Nagasaki….

    Even in Hiroshima were left has always been strong,the mayor Akiba(a Social Democrat)had appointed American for A-bomb memorial foundation.And he is intending to have some Asians who think A-bomb had ended the Japanese imperialism as the board member.
    So in a way Kyuma’s statement is based on broad public consensus from both left and right and nothing to be accused of.It is a pity that history debate is politicized by all sphere of political arena.

  3. Joe says:

    To make matters worse, Mr. Ozawa of the DPJ came back with a statement that Japan should demand an apology from the US government for the bomb. What the hell is this, China?

    Fortunately Abe stayed Victorian and said the best use of Japan’s energies was to work toward disarmament.

    Phew. And we thought Aso was bad… who would want either Kyuma or Ozawa in power?

  4. Aceface says:

    Well,Ozawa isn’t that bad.At least he ain’t LDP!

  5. Alfred Russel Wallace says:

    Interesting to ponder whether such forthright clarity could ever be used to sort out the other ‘outstanding’ issues, such as Nanjing, ‘comfort women’. Unit 731, etc.

  6. subadei says:

    Fumio’s pragmatism is impressive. I don’t know that I agree he should have spoken Victorian, however. I think the mainstream (especially here in the US) deserve some unapologetic realism. Call it tough love, if you will. Maybe it’ll drag them away from whatever utopian ideology that they cling to left or right.

  7. Curzon says:

    The most interesting thing of all is this chap is from Nagasaki”¦.

    That _is_ interesting!

    Thanks all for the comments. I think my point is that, Kyuma’s discussion is a fine one to be had, as are the other topics mentioned by Dr. Wallace, but it’s unbelievable to make statements like this right before an election where the government is facing tough odds. That kind of honesty doesn’t win the LDP any friends, especially not in places like Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

  8. Mark says:

    Kaplan’s referenced article shows a lot of education but little understanding. The future does not belong to the state and it’s aparatchiks. The debt bubble that’s collapsing should dry up all that easy tax money that governments have been using to bend others around the world to their will.

  9. Pingback: Japan's Defense Minister: US Atomic Bombing "Couldn't Be Helped" at ROK Drop

  10. Pingback: The Marmot’s Hole » Sorry About That. Couldn’t Be Helped.

  11. Aceface says:

    Koike Yuriko is supposed to be the chair person of newly established cabinet’s NSC(not exactly working yet)was the broadcaster for TV TOKYO and the graduate of University of Cairo,Probably the only Japanese diet member who can speak Arabic(not sure how fluent she is).
    I remember she was against the first gulf war,but then again she wasn’t LDP member at the time.

  12. Curzon says:

    YH, I think that was my first post ever here at CA… æ‡?ã?‹ã?—ã?„ã?ªã??。

  13. Pingback: Leftsider

  14. sun bin says:

    couldnt be helpes, true.

    but the cold war, soviet, and hokkaido? do you really believe that was what truman had in mind?

    i will help you to think “pagan”:

  15. guy says:

    I don’t know about speaking Victorian and thinking pagan. But Kyuma was right. A friend told me the Victorian age was one of hypocrisy: an outward appearance of respetability with an undercurrent of bawdiness.
    So that is perhaps what a numbe of Victorians did think Victorian and act/ think pagan. P..S If they United States really wanted to keep the Soviets out they would have rearmed the Germans. I was taken aback when I first heard someone say that. That person said it was not his idea, but Patton’s. If the U.S. kept the Soviets out of Asia then the issue of North Korea would have been a moot point. It is interesting that when one Chinese family had a discussion on the bomb, one elderly lady said they should have incincerated all of Japan. Kind of scary.