The 'Japanese System' is Fascism

I am reading a book about the wierd government of North Korea and the author goes on about the surrounding countries. At one point he says the ‘Japanese System’ is simply Fascism.

Sometimes it take someone to say the obvious to make me see the plain facts.

OK, so when we talk about a Government-Industry Mind Meld, company anthems sung before work, vast interlocking ownerships, are we not talking about Fascism? I think the guy might be right.

Now why didn’t I see that?

I have trouble defining any system as fascism when it can be knocked out by free and fair elections. And I don’t really have any doubts that if the Japanese people voted in someone who wanted to tear down that system that person would be seated in the PMs office.

The Japanese are an extremely regimented people. There are a lot of reasons for that, mostly cultural and historic. On the surface, such regimentation could be interpereted as fascism I suppose. However, generally fascism (to me) means the imposition of regimentation and controls (totaliarianism) from the state down. The Japanese certainly do this…but regimentation also comes from the bottom up due to their own history and culture.

From wikipedia:

Certainly the Japanese people exalt the nation above the individual. I wouldn’t say they exalt the PARTY over the individual, at least not in the traditional Facist way (i.e. one party)…but I do think that Japanese tend to associate themselves with ‘a party’ or ‘a corporation’ and also tend to put those first, before themselves as individuals.

In the same way, I don’t believe that the Japanese (I’m talking in very broad terms here of course) also don’t stress ‘loyalty to a single leader’ necessarily, though I DO think they submit to a single culture, and a Japanese Nationalistic one at that.

As for the last point I think its the other way around…Japanese corporations control the state to a certain degree, and THEY impose regimentation on their employees, not have regimentation imposed on them from the government/state.
Its a knotty question but in the end I don’t believe that the ‘Japanese system’ is a Fascist system…its just culturally and historically highly regimented. I also think that this is changing and becoming less rigid as time passes and that the Japanese people are becoming less regimented. I have to admit though that many of the points I’m making here come from when I was in Japan in the '80’s, and I haven’t been back since then (I spent 2 years there, the last time in the early 90’s) so things may be a lot different now.


Well, that was the point the guy was making. Korea has had a long history of rule by depots. He even points out the tendency of Korean-born religions and philosophies to be weirdly authoritarian.

The Kims could not have come about in any other country. (Or so he says.)

Still, I think it might be fair to apply the Duck Test to the cartoon of the ‘Japanese System.’ It really does explain a lot. A freely-elected Fascist state.

Paul, I don’t know much about the Japanese government. Would you mind explaining how it “exalts the nation and party above the individual, with the state apparatus being supreme,” how it stresses loyalty to a single leader, and how it imposes economic totalitarianism? Thanks.

Well, to start with, the corporations literally control government offices. The corporations are much like feudal lords, a man swears loyalty to them.
I’ve run into this the hard way: Toyota controls the DMV. Amusing, right? Until you realize that all cars sold in japan must be approved by the DMV, up to two-three years before they can be sold. This means that Toyota now has control of all foreign imports sold, as well as insight into them very early in the development phase.

This has been used to their benefit in the past.

Not useful.


Except that I was under the impression that fascism was top-down, from a central authoritarian government. Perhaps I’m incorrect, but the fact that corporations influence the government more than the other way around seems to me to contraindicate fascism.

What book is this?

As for the Japanese being Fascist, I don’t know enough about the country to know for sure. Sixty years ago, yeah. But I don’t know about today.

To me the definition of Fascism has always included

  1. Rabid nationalism, the individual only has value if he promotes the nationalistic identity and nationalistic ambitions
  2. A rigid social heirarcy
  3. Cruelty and intolerance towards diversion and rebellion
  4. Acceptance & approval of domination of those in different social/racial/ethnic/national classes lower on the heirarchial ladder
  5. Reverence for a central leader

Things like that describe Germany, Italy and Japan in the 30s and 40s. But modern Japan? I don’t know really. Maybe ‘fascism light’ the same way some european countries are ‘communism light’.

Are you talking about corporate fascism or political fascism?

Forgive me if my previous posts sounded like I had a dog in this fight. Like I said, I was reading this book today and it all suddenly made sense.

The book is ‘‘Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea’’ by Jasper Becker. A good read.

OK, you will have to spot me the Central Leader thing, but

  1. Crazed nationalism, check.
  2. Social hierarchy, check. Imperial family, but more like all the Japanese against all other nations and ethnic groups.
  3. Check, they do not cotton to individuality or rebellion.
  4. Yes, they have a real drive to dominate the rest of the world economically, they freely say they want to do this as a matter of policy.
  5. Nope, not really any more.

I have no idea what ‘Corporate Fascism’ is. In fact I have no real understanding of what Fascism is.

Is this Becker guy so off base? As I said, it does explain a lot.

I read that book. I don’t remember him calling the Japanese fascists though, but it was almost 900 pages and I must’ve skipped over 100 of them.

I think the Japanese would be ‘fascism light’ the same way american radicals are ‘fascism light’ the same way some european countries are ‘communism light’. However the modern Japanese are nothing like true fascists, they have human rights, a weak military, are materialistic like all western nations (instead of self sacraficing patriots) and donate money to international aid. In fact promoting human rights was one of the requirements Japan has considered before it normalizes relations with North Korea. They have to give back the kidnapping victims and (maybe) improve their domestic human rights.

On 14 April, the 61st session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting, adopted a resolution drafted and submitted jointly by Japan and the EU on the situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). It called on North Korea to immediately return Japanese abductees and on the UN General Assembly to take up the question of North Korean human rights violations in general.[1]

Fascism is hard to define though. To me corporate fascism is when corporations control the government and rewrite laws for their own benefits like they did in the 19th century or early 20th century when they were causing wars, passing laws and things like that. Its similiar to fascism but the corporations take the role of the nation in regards to law changes.

Are you certain that the Imperial family isn’t still the rulership? Tokugawa united the government as a Shogun, and can it not be argued that he was more powerful than the Emperor, even though the Emperor could order him to kill himself?

How do we define the power of the nobility these days? I hear people talk about it as a thing of the past, but I don’t see how it is. Nobility hangs out with the power brokers in whatever fashion those power brokers manifest themselves. I am certain that if any American businessman were invited to hang out with teh Emperor of Japan, that it would be considered a great honor and they would jump at it. Does this not imply that the Imperial might is dependent upon the power of the current Emperor? What if a strong Emperor came to power, how would that change things?

While there is a certain amount of westernization of Japan, I have found that generally there is a certain respect for the hierarchy of Japanese civilization that is still adhered to by the Japanese. I base this off of Nipponese that I have met and known in my lifetime.

I find that it is an illusion to believe that feudal power has just disappeared.

I can see Japan as a fascist state. The Imperial family still exists, and they have entered into a hybrid of democracy, but if Toyota controls the DMV, that’s pretty good evidence IMO. Also, the execs of the big corporations are all the old Samurai families.

Could not Prince William at some point later in his life affect world markets? George Soros can affect world markets, and I’d be willing to bet he’d grant Prince William and audience if one were requested, as would George HW Bush, David Rockefeller, or Bill Gates. He could probably very easily attend a Bilderberg meeting, or find himself with a seat on the Council on Foreign Relations.

I think to truly discuss this we’d need to first examine whether or not Feudalism has actually left Japan.


All in all of course the Japanese (or the North Koreans) are just what they are. They are unique systems not quite like anything else in the world. We can label them as we like. Still, Japan does have a lot of Fascist elements, but many more Japanese ones.

As some of you know, I lived in Japan a good while and, though I viewed the governement with a critical eye, I never saw it as “fascist.”

It’s a system with its plusses and minuses. I despise the Japanese royal family (as an institution, not as people), because mostly it is a pacifier for those in the country who want to suck on Japan’s imperialist past. It’s an infantalizing entity.

The government is big, dumb, and mostly benevolent–at least in its intentions. Rather than fascist, it is supine and ineffective, throwing sops to whatever interest groups have the most pull. Oldies, various industries, farmers (that’s a big one). Everyone agrees to throw each other money, everyone agrees not to compete or do so much.

A lot of people really hate the Japanese flag and the Japanese national anthem. Every year there is a row about some school principal who wouldn’t play “Kimigayo” at graduation, etc. There are a lot of people who see these things as symbols of imperialism. It’s similar to the embarrassing thing with the Confederate battle flag in the US.

Among dipshit 50- and 60-year-olds, however, there is the “Japan was right in WWII” contingent (you’ll run into these), and there are the van-driving loony wingnuts (I’ve never met one personally), who really want to see the Emperor return to genuine power (or whatever it was he had when he had it).

There is talk now about Japan’s remilitarization. That can only happen with a dipshit like Bush enabling it. The future of Asia is China, and Japan knows it. Japan is a dying country. Every year the Japanese economy is “turning the corner.” Well, we’ve been hearing that for 14 years now. You’ve got a shrinking population, a fuct environment, and no substantial increase in the standard of living fora long time (compare Japan 2005 to the US 1955–50 years later the Japanese have their crappy, tiny houses with room for only one car, with no dishwashers and no decent ovens, with horrible clothes washers but no dryers–it’s a fuckin’ joke). The country has no political or spiritual (ie, no vision of the “the good” for itself, no goals or aspirations–just whining about when the economy will go back to “normal”–uh, this IS normal, idiots), no direction whatsoever.

I can’t believe that total dumbshit Koizumi was elected in such a landslide. The Japanese really do have no vision anymore.

Japan may not be fascist, but it does have an infantile political culture, and it is SOL for the long term.

Holy shit . . . a GD thread has come to a resolution?

It’s the End Times, I tells ya!

However, the point being glossed over is that there’s a real big difference between a society that looks down on individualism and a government that punishes nonconformity.

If I were to move to a conservative, rural area and refuse to go to church on Sundays, grew my hair long, voted Communist, and bounced from job to job, I’d probably come under significant social pressure to conform, else I would be shunned. That doesn’t mean taht BFE, Rural America is a fascist state.

Same thing with Japan. I am fairly well acquainted with their system of government, and I can’t say that the government punishes individualism in the same manner that real fascist states have done and still do. What societal pressures may be (in the absence of goverment coersion) does not, in my mind, reflect anything meaningful about the form of government.

(Side note: the Communist Party is alive and kicking in Japan, and has around a dozen elected representatives in the Diet. I find it hard to believe that a real fascist state would tolerate this.)

The idea is absolutely absurd. No meaningful definition of fascism would include modern day Japan.

There you go.

And the OP himself agrees!

Isn’t that situation caused, at least in part, by sheer lack of space?

Fascism, simply put, is a totalitarian form of government in which the means of production are privately owned, but government controlled. Broad-brushing every sort of totalitarian movement as fascist is at best incorrect.

Fascism and Corporate-controlled governance are anti-thetical. If anything, in Japan, corporations drive big government, which is to some extent true of any modern industrialized nation.

The OP premise is faulty, but I’m not sure if fascism by its nature would require the elimination of all other political parties (although Imperial Japan eventually forced all mainstream political paties to merge and outlawed the leftist ones in the late 30s). A small minority party in a Parliamentary system has little or no power if they are not needed to form a coalition and could be left undisturbed, either to use as a scapegoat or perhaps as a sop to external criticism (See how we have a multi-party system! How can you say we are a fascist dictatorship?")

In any event, the JCP has always done reasonably well in Japanese elections. They were always more of a communist-lite organization and certainly didn’t push the Soviet line (Japan and the USSR never signed a peace treaty after WWII disputing the possession of the Kuril Islands). They advocate an independent, demilitarized Japan.

Current reasons for their modest success include

  1. The JCP states that it will never go in to coalition with the LDP or DPJ (the only 2 parties that have any shot at forming a gov’t), so they are a reliable protest vote.
  2. The JCP picked up voters after the Socialist implosion (Leftists accused the JSP of selling out when they went into coalition with the LDP to get Miyazawa named prime minister).
  3. The JCP can win at the local level becuase of a reputation for honest dealing (as opposed to endemic bid-rigging and bribery)