The Character of Japan

Which of the following statements comes closest to describing how you feel, on the whole, about the people who live in Japan?

The Japanese people will always want to go to war to make themselves as powerful as possible – 35%
The Japanese people may not like war, but they have shown that they are too easily led into war by powerful leaders – 39%
The Japanese people do not like war. If they could have the same chance as people in other countries, they would become good citizens of the world – 19%
Don’t know – 7%

A US public opinion poll, circa 1946. For the original, see this Frog in a Well post.

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.
This entry was posted in General, Nippon, Politics & Elections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Character of Japan

  1. dj says:

    One thing that does not get talked about much in the west is how many Japanese feel about many other Asian peoples. At the time of their Imperialism the West was grabbing up all of Asia, China was weak. It was Japans opportunity.

    Even at that time it was very over crowded.

  2. dj says:

    oops, I failed to mention in the last post that the Japanese have a feeling of superiority in the region. One thing that reminded me of this recently was the sale of the F-15SK fighter to south Korea. Japan’s premier air superiority fighter is the F-15J. After the South Korean purchase they started belly aching for congress to allow them to purchase the F-22. They had to have the best plane in the region (aside from the US).

  3. Aceface says:

    dj:

    “Japanese have a feeling of superiority in the region”

    Perhaps.Since Japan happened to be one of the few nations in the region that was not colonized by the west and had somehow managed to modernized by themselves.
    But I wouldn’t think that was “character” that had lived on to generations. Take a look into any pre 19th century Chinese or Korean literature.It was Japanese who were described as “barbarians”.

    I have to take that “Korea’s F-15K was the main reason for Japan’s quest for F-22″ with a grain of salt.
    I know that was the way Korea’s media had portrayed the issue last spring when I was in Korea. Almost all Korean TV were sending reporters to Kadena air base in Okinawa where F-22 has been posted briefly and the papers like Chosun and Joongang tried every opportunity to alarm Washington.

    Japan’s procurement of F-15J was in 1976,It is natural to seek for new generation of fighters. Anyway if there was any neighboring air power that had became the factor for Japan’s desire to acquire F-22,it was China’s SU-27,not Korea’s F-15K.

  4. dj says:

    Japan’s JASDF is more than adequate to deal with the Chinese right now.

    My point was not that the Koreans posed a threat to Japan but rather Japanese were uncomfortable with Koreans having better equipment. The Japanese were fine with what they had until the SK purchase, then they all the sudden felt they deserved BETTER.

  5. sun bin says:

    interesting. the result looks even applicable for today, roughly.

    however, the survey is flawed and guiding. e.g. it said “The Japanese people do not like war. If they could have the same chance as people in other countries, they would become good citizens of the world “. the second sentence should be truncated or separted into a new question. they are not related.

    a better way (assuming there is no agenda behind the surveyor) is to list independent question and allow each person to choose more than one.

  6. Aceface says:

    “The Japanese were fine with what they had until the SK purchase, then they all the sudden felt they deserved BETTER.”

    I think the timing is just pure coinsidental.
    And your argument seems to my eyes(along with that test flight over Takeshima with the top of ROKAF on F-15K)reveals Korea’s inferiority complex to Japan more so than that of Japanese “superiority” over Asians….

  7. dj says:

    Maybe Aceface, but after all this is only one example I have at the moment.

    What would shed more light on this situation we are discussing is the same poll above offered in China about Japan and vice versa.

  8. Arcane says:

    I failed to mention in the last post that the Japanese have a feeling of superiority in the region. One thing that reminded me of this recently was the sale of the F-15SK fighter to south Korea. Japan’s premier air superiority fighter is the F-15J. After the South Korean purchase they started belly aching for congress to allow them to purchase the F-22. They had to have the best plane in the region (aside from the US).

    Correlation does not imply causation. What we have here is a coincidence…

  9. Aceface says:

    Firstly,yours won’t be an example and I have tons of examples for counterargument.

    Secondly,comparing the polls between Japan and China are meaningless,since Japan has freedom of speech and not so in China.There are too much gap to ignore in quality and diversity of information,the citizens of the two nations can get through main stream media.

    Let’s just say I believe in Japanese have better environment to have objective ideas on China than vice-versa,And this I am confident without mobilizing any feeling of Japanese superiority over Chinese.

  10. George says:

    The poll reminds me of the DoD’s original plans (circa 1942 or so) to turn Japan into one big farm after the war. Imagine what the world would be like if that had happened–though the Korean War would have probably ended the policy right then.

  11. Arcane says:

    The poll reminds me of the DoD’s original plans (circa 1942 or so) to turn Japan into one big farm after the war.

    Those were never “plans,” just proposals. There was a similar proposal made for Germany, as well, but it never came to fruition. The government usually has many, many proposals, and media outlets seize upon certain ones and people take them out of context. I would take reports of this being the official policy with a pinch of salt.

  12. George says:

    Arcane,

    It was actually a guy named Morgenthau (I forget if he was the Hans Morgenthau that wrote the IR textbook, probably not) who came up with “plans.” At first, his ideas gathered momentum in the planning process. Then the term “democracy” crept into the rhetoric, and the focus of thinking on post-war Japan switched from demilitarization to democratization–if the Japanese could safely become democratic, then they could be trusted with an industry, the logic went. By 1944, that way of thinking became the mainstream. If you want to debate the symantics of “plan” versus “proposal,” though, that’s cool.