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A Bizarre Length of Japanese Judicial Logic Stretched For/By Nationalism

I came across this bit of legal news:

Japan enshrined, in the infamous ” Yasukuni war shrine” for the War Dead, the names of Koreans who were forced to serve in the Japanese military.  AND, it included the name of at least 1 Korean who is still ALIVE!  AND, the Japanese High Court just dismissed an appeal from the relatives and the 1 living Korean to have their names removed from the Shrine, saying “South Koreans needed to respect Japan’s religious beliefs.”

http://japandailypress.com/south-korea-slams-japan-for-court-ruling-on-yasukuni-shrine-names-2438469/

You know, there is always a limit to “religious freedom”, and no case illustrates the need for that limit than this one, particularly in view of history.

In a single stroke, the Japanese High Court has managed to link Japanese “religious beliefs” to its militant past, to the present day Japanese Nationalism.

“South Koreans needed to respect Japan’s religious beliefs.”???!!  Er, They specifically don’t want to be any part of “Japan’s religious beliefs”.  Which part of “NO” is not understood?

I completely understand South Korea’s indignation in this.  (And I have no doubt, a few Chinese names are probably mixed up in the Shrine).

“You are an honored Japanese War Dead!  Deal with Japanese religious beliefs.”

Somehow, “religious beliefs” in this context sounds very much like WWII Japanese Imperialism.

 

 

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  1. ersim
    November 1st, 2013 at 17:02 | #1

    The current prime minister of Japan has a past to imperial Japan. No surprise the Japanese High Court made the ruling of the Koreans to “respect Japan’s religious beliefs” in relation to the infamous shrine, which is part of Japan’s imperial past.

  2. November 2nd, 2013 at 06:32 | #2

    In the Japan Daily Press Article linked in the post, there is also this bit:

    Upholding the ruling of the Tokyo District Court in July 2011, the high court said that although the plaintiffs argue that their feelings have been hurt, they need to “show tolerance of others’ freedom of religion.”

    Do people see how the modern legal concept – so dominated by Western defined notions of “freedom” – is really just a rhetorical device?

    Hey, Columbus and the Conquistadors’s coming to the New World to plunder, convert, and kill – umm discover, explore, and civilize – the native population in the Americas … is that:

    A. A tragedy of unprecedented dimensions, ushering a millennium of colonialism and rape on a global scale the world had not seen; or

    B. An event that the world must respect, as an act of West’s sincerest beliefs in pacifying and civilizing the world in the name of God … or civility … or modernity (which term is most appropriate depends on the era)?

    Depending on your worldview, it could be either!

    If you can justify something as heinous as imperialism and colonialism in the name of “freedom” – and you can – you can justify anything. You just need to have the upperhand in framing how to view the events.

    How about a more recent event? Well – 911 – is as close any to defining the current world order (think war of terror, NSA snooping, drone attacks, etc.).

    The U.S. likes to say 911 “terrorism.” Surely, it can be viewed as that. But it can also be viewed as freedom of religion. I am not necessarily talking about the freedom of Islam. I am talking about the particular brand of religious views – whatever they are – that are held by those that carried out the 911 attacks – be it Islam, a distorted brand of Islam, political Islam, or whatever beliefs one might attribute to that group of people. If you really believe in freedom of religion (if you are truly big hearted as a true liberal should be), start there!

    Even if the acts of 911 were deemed absolutely abhorable (a conclusion you might come to if you focus on 911 and nothing else – if you completely discount the U.S. aggressive and militaristic foreign policy abroad and any grudges these people may justifiably hold), we ought to respect the views these so-called terrorists hold, and the religious beliefs that provide the impetus and foundation for them to speak out against the inequities of the current world order.

    NSA, CIA, please stop snooping and interfering with the recruiting and propagation of so-called extremists and Islamists. You have a right to stop the violent acts, as a matter of “self defense” I suppose (again, discounting what aggressive acts the U.S. had been, is still carrying out around the world), but please respect and allow the beliefs and thoughts of even those you despise to be freely propagated. You have no right to interfere with their religion and worldview from widely taking root abroad and in the U.S.

    The war on terror has been framed in terms of preserving Freedom. But whose freedom? The meaning of what freedom means depends so intrinsically on one’s worldview that it inherently means nothing. The meaning of what you think Freedom means doesn’t exist in “freedom,” but in the underlying worldview.

    Once one understands that, the Japan court decision is no longer baffling…

  3. ersim
    November 2nd, 2013 at 07:19 | #3

    Does the Western concept of the “rule of law” have something to do with the case in Japan?

  4. November 2nd, 2013 at 07:41 | #4

    @ersim

    Does the Western concept of the “rule of law” have something to do with the case in Japan?

    “rule of law” allows the result – not surprising given “rule of law” is but a formality. It’s not that one can make up any rules, it’s that there are so many just-looking rules in the world. Surely, each such rule does have its place (including “freedom”). But which rule/rules to focus on for a particular situation, which rule/rules to choose to apply to the situation, what aspects of the current situation to focus on … these are art of law that rule of law does not prescribe – that one’s norm does. Thus, to achieve justice, once must not just reach for rule of law, but for greater ideals – “morals” if you must, according to the ancient Chinese texts.

    Many will surely mock using notions of “morals” to achieve justice – as it can be a nebulous concept, and as such can be distorted and hacked also. But at least the Ancient Chinese made them front and center of political discussion – while Western rule of law hides much of it under the face of “rule of law.” Unfortunately, “rule of law” is but a tool. But people are so brain-washed into seeing it as something neutral, objective, and good. This only opens the way for those who knows the ways of the law to control the masses – to make the masses see white when they want them to see white, and to see black when they want to see black – and to get away with it. The result of this case is but another example, allowing Japan to hide its Imperial bigotry under the rubrics of rule of law – to explain away (at the minimum) and to glorify (possibly) past atrocities under the flag of freedom and religion….

  5. ho hon
    November 3rd, 2013 at 05:02 | #5

    > “South Koreans needed to respect Japan’s religious beliefs”

    It is just another form of moral absolutism, with the Japanese High Court as the preacher man. It reminds me of a 1986 song called “Preacher Man”. It reads:

    “Well he talks in confusion
    And he faults your point of view
    You talk about his apparition
    And he talks, hear him laughing at you

    “Contamination and radiation
    Let it crawl while the city sleeps
    Your turn to lay for bait for a while
    Now you’re melting through your burning fields
    And all my people say oh

    “Stop!

    “When he talks
    Connected scars reopen
    A thousand fingers
    Reach out for you

    “We don’t feel no contamination
    We don’t feel no contamination
    We don’t feel no contamination
    We don’t feel no contamination

    “Oh keep talking
    You’re a hunter I’m a wolf
    Yeah keep talking
    I’m the preacher you’re a fool

    “Radiation, contamination
    Radiation, contamination
    Radiation, contamination
    Radiation…”

    What a coincidence.

  6. Black Pheonix
    November 4th, 2013 at 08:02 | #6

    1 funny thought: That 1 living Korean whose name was “enshrined”.

    His spirit technically has “merged” with the other spirits of the War Dead. 1 reason behind the Japanese high court’s decision is that once the “spirit” merged, it cannot be separated from the other spirits.

    Well, that’s all quite fine and good, but doesn’t that make the 1 living Korean a “living spirit” of the War Dead Shrine??

    And by logic, doesn’t he now speak for all the other Spirits of the War Dead??

    And as he is a “living spirit” of the Shrine, shouldn’t he get the authority to say what the “spirits” want?

    And if he doesn’t, doesn’t that technically make this a case of “religious slavery”, where a person’s spirit is enslaved against his will??

    🙂

    *This is 1 big reason why I don’t give much credit to religions, because so often they just don’t make much sense.

  7. November 4th, 2013 at 13:48 | #7

    @ersim ,

    To follow up on my earlier comment on rule of law. Because of what I noted, I don’t think the Japanese court is reaching for the conclusion. It flows naturally from their worldview, norms, frame of view of the world. The title of this post is “A Bizarre Length of Japanese Judicial Logic Stretched For/By Nationalism,” as if the rule of law prescribes an objective conclusion that the Japanese stretched and distorted and deviated from. But it’s nothing of the sort. Rule of law provides the rhetoric of objectivity and neutrality and detachment, but it provides little substance to that end. The judges simply expressed their norms through the law. The stretch lies in Japanese Nationalism / world perspective as compared to the perspectives of other Asian peoples around her … but not in any stretching of legal principles, norms, and notions per se.

  8. November 4th, 2013 at 22:37 | #8

    Sigh. My freedom to invade and colonize you is my religious right.

    I’ve had encountered a number of Japanese friends who knew Japan’s invasion of Asia wrong, but sadly, far more think like this monkey high court.

  9. ersim
    November 5th, 2013 at 05:44 | #9

    Interesting that Allen in comment #2 mentions Columbus and the Conquistadores plundering, converting and killing, while Black Pheonix in comment #6 mentions the word “slavery”, both comments related to the Japanese High Court decision. I asked a question in comment # 3 about how the concept of “rule of law” applies to the Japanese High Court ruling. Did some digging up and it seems “rule of law” is an imperial mindset, Western along with Japanese, that started with the Papal Bull of 1452. Other Papal Bulls (1454 and 1493) gave the European powers the authority not only to enslave “pagans” in those lands, but to takes total control over those lands of these “pagans”. Then there is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 1823 to the so called “Doctrine of Discovery” giving the Papal Bulls legitimacy when it came to land rights.
    In a nutshell, the ruling of the Japanese High Court about ” religious freedom” is just a cynical ploy to legitimize it’s imperial claim

  10. Black Pheonix
    November 5th, 2013 at 06:37 | #10

    @ersim

    Now I think about it, the more accurate description of this is “FORCED CONVERSION” condoned by the Japanese High Court.

    I.e. when the Koreans didn’t want to be part of Japanese Religion/beliefs, but they were forced to be part of it against their express wishes.

    This is actually strictly against the ICCPR, which Japan ratified in 1979.

    *

    Article 18
    2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

  11. Black Pheonix
    November 5th, 2013 at 08:12 | #11

    Comparably, to Mormon practice of baptizing the dead, particularly non-Christian dead.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/us/jews-take-issue-with-posthumous-mormon-baptisms-beliefs.html?_r=0

  12. November 5th, 2013 at 08:41 | #12

    @ersim

    Great comment.

    In my view, rule of law – like democracy – is a two-pronged opiate. It is an opiate to placate the domestic constituents – what I have focused on – but it is also an opiate to allow powerful societies to subject others. The way an industrialized/imperial power deals with the world, it says, this is law (defined by the imperial power of course) – and that is supposed to be the end all and be all.

    The Japanese during its modernization effort learned not just technological know-how, but also this legal sword, from the West. It has lectured to China and others – hey this island belong to us because of xxx (some legalese) that no one really understands. Since the world is still West dominated, everyone feels we must conform to this so-called “rule of law” – and when words are couched in laws (make reference to laws, and use laws to justify the acts), everyone things it is right.

    I look forward to a day – probably not my lifetime though – when humanity can escape such double-speak. It is a vestige of imperialism – of enslavement – not a platform for liberation.

  13. November 5th, 2013 at 08:49 | #13

    @Black Pheonix

    Article 18
    2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

    I will take you up on this. What does this mean? For a Korean, it means not having his name enshrined. For a Japanese, it means not having others interfere with what they want to carve on their shrine.

    Freedom of religion. Define religion. Define freedom.

    If my thesis about rule of law is correct, you can’t define either, until you have an idea of the end result – of the conflicts/circumstances you are trying to resolve/apply. But that idea of what the end result should be will be defined by your worldview, and thus it is your worldview that will define what the “law” means.

    To make things more complicated, I have gone with your one rule. In reality, there are so many other rules. We might look, for example, at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even using that document – which is defined on Western terms in my view (why start from the perspective of “rights”? why state them in commandments form? etc.) – has many rules. On this shrine issue, I can pick other rules and apply them to what I think the end result should be.

    Eventually we can go around in circles. For every rule/set of rules you set and apply against the Japanese, to be fair, I can find another rule,/set of rules and apply them in a way that make the Japanese look ok. Laws, by their nature, allow for such things, because they are not determinate. You can choose the “right” rules to focus on, and for every rule, you can apply them – if you are skillful enough – in ways that match your needs.

  14. ersim
    November 6th, 2013 at 08:30 | #14

    @Allen
    Having read your insightful comments in this post about the decision of the Japanese High Court in relation to “religious freedom”, discovered “democracy” and “rule of law” are a Western belief system and like any belief system, there are always those fervent fanatics who want to convert, by force, their warped and distorted worldview upon the “pagans”. Thanks.

  15. November 6th, 2013 at 17:44 | #15

    There are also thousands of Taiwanese names in the shrine and occasionally protest on the same ground as the Korean.

    http://www.chinanews.com/tw/tw-twyw/news/2009/08-11/1813151.shtml

    http://news.sohu.com/20091221/n269104715.shtml

  16. Black Pheonix
    November 6th, 2013 at 18:12 | #16

    I guess Japan is inventing the “Shrine Puppets”, much like the Sock Puppets of Democracy.

    Incidentally, recently a book revealed that Fox News employed its own private army of “sock puppets” to steer its comment sections of its websites, with some employees each controlling up to 100 fake online personalities.

  17. November 6th, 2013 at 20:42 | #17

    @Black Pheonix

    We should do a post on the wu mao-ers of the West. This includes both private (rich) entities such FOX as well as gov’t entities such as CIA and other gov’t organizations.

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