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Book Review: Altered States – The United States and Japan since the Occupation

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Book Review of Altered States – The United States and Japan since the Occupation. Image © Oxford University Press


Author: Michael Schaller (1947-)

ISBN: 978-0195069167

Publisher: Oxford University Press

(US, September 25, 1997)

‘Obstructing the Japanese opposition’ was ‘the most important thing we could do.’

‘Continued U.S. military presence in Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia was China’s best hope for Jap-restraint.’
Ultimately, it was in America’s interest to keep Japan and China concerned about the other.’
- Kissinger

We told them [China] that if you try to keep us from protecting the Japanese, we would let them go nuclear.’
‘Without the security treaty, America would ‘have no influence’ in Tokyo.’
- Nixon

Japanese Proxy Politics: Proxy Nationalism and Proxy Leftism of CAMP JAPAN

This Michael Schaller’s book ‘Altered States – The United States and Japan since the Occupation’ (1997) is the most important book on Japan’s proxy politics of today. Although no one mentioned in the past, Ukeru Magosaki’s 2012 book ‘The Truth of the Post-War Japan History’ (『戦後史の正体』) is ‘based on’ this book. Almost all focal points in Magosaki’s book can be found in Schaller’s work. Unfortunately, this is partially due to lack of publication of Japanese translation of ‘Altered States – The United States and Japan since the Occupation’.

After thoroughly read both books several times, readers should realize several critical points below:

1. The true cause of Kishi’s planned replacement with Ikeda was not Kishi’s ‘pro-independent’ tendency (Magosaki’s interpretation of Schaller’s text) but it is due to his unpopularity after Kishi’s undemocratic procedure on the revision of the security treaty caused the controversial Anpo Protests (mobocracy) during 1959 and 1960. Magosaki’s dichotomy of the past Japanese regimes is too simple that there were only either puppets or ‘pro-independence’ prime ministers. In fact, prime ministers of the 1950s to 1970s had sought genuinely independent diplomacy within the framework of proxy politics. From Shigeru Yoshida, Ichiro Hatoyama, Tanzan Ishibashi, Nobusuke Kishi, Hayato Ikeda, Eisaku Sato to Kakuei Tanaka, those respected prime ministers were more intelligent, diligent, truly independent political players than any official Japanese ‘leftists’ who claim to be ‘pro-independence’. Moreover, those prime ministers listed here were appointed and put in power by the U.S. establishment according to the disclosed documents cited in the book. Thus, it is very dangerous and inappropriate to politically label Yoshida, Kishi, Ikeda, Sato as U.S. puppets. Schaller sees them in a more holistic view and grand context without Japanese opposition bias (the author did not use any leftist term, such as ‘imperialism’) . Readers must put focus on how those prime ministers desperately tried to deal with the U.S. demands while protecting Japan’s own independent interests in the Cold War era. This is the core of this book.

2. Japan’s politics is still proxy state’s proxy politics which is essentially composed of both proxy nationalism and proxy opposition (proxy leftism). Although Magosaki and other ‘opposition’ opinion leaders treat CIA-funded ‘Marxist’ Socialists (日本社会党 / JSP, 1945-1996) as almost individual cases like ordinally corruption matters, the whole political mechanism of proxy opposition (proxy leftism) still is today’s dominant feature and phenomenon for oppositionists. Such as interchangeability (like Ichiro Ozawa is still floating around rights and lefts) and interdependency (the major economic base of ‘opposition’, RENGO is ‘inconsistently’ and ’notoriously’ supportive of LDP right-wing policies) of both camps and its aristocratic-elitist stars (marked with nepotism, opportunism, corporatism and gerontocracy). As the U.S. government mentioned in the text, the Japanese political establishment is designed to systematically neutralize extreme rights and radical lefts as militarist Japan and Communist Japan are equally undesirable for the U.S. geopolitical interests. As a result, homogeneity of the ruling parties and main opposition parties are inevitable. From this view point, it is not difficult to understand JCP’s contradicted nationalist attitude toward China and Russia because proxy opposition is dialectically just meant to be supplement of proxy nationalism.

3. Opposition failure of 2021 Japanese general election was undoubtedly aftermath of proxy politics. They were designated to lose the election at the most critical moment (popularity of Shinzo Abe’s henchman, Yoshihide Suga regime declined to 28% due to his disastrous COVID policy). Historically, the never-ending defeat of opposition originated in the grand context of CIA-fund for the Socialist (‘moderate’ sectarians within the party), DSP (the ‘anti-Communist’ social democrat sector of JSP formed 民社党, 1960-1994), LDP (LDP / 自由民主党 was originally designed to maintain the alliance, 1955-) and ‘moderate’ politicians in the establishment. Besides JCP (日本共産党, 1922-), present opposition parties like JSP (社会民主党, 1996-), The Japan Innovation Party (日本維新の会, 2015-), Reiwa Shinsengumi (れいわ新選組, 2019-), CDP (立憲民主党, 2020-), DPP (国民民主党, 2018-) and the predecessor of CDP and DPP ‘DPJ’ (民主党, 1998-2016) are all offspring of the Socialist, DSP and LDP. Thus, their direct economic base is simply seen as either Keidanren (The Japan Business Federation) or RENGO (The Japanese Trade Union Confederation; consists of 48 trade union ‘federations’) or in most cases both. In general, politicians and political parties are avatars of their economic base. In this case, LDP is Keidanren, both CDP and DPP mainly represent RENGO however the recent development more clearly revealed that simplification and the dualist approach to the proxy politics is fatally wrong. On January 21, 2022, RENGO political centre bureau sent their 48 trade secretariat members (6 out of 48 trade union federations of Keidanren companies are dominating political forces, such as The Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Worker's Unions of Japan / 電力総連; Japanese Electrical Electronic & Information Union / 電機連合; Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers' Unions / 自動車総連; Japan Federation of Basic Industry Worker's Union / 基幹労連; Japanese Association of Metal, Machinery, and Manufacturing workers / JAM; The Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service and General Workers' Unions / UAゼンセン, total 700 million members, only 1 % of the Japanese workers) a secret document ‘Basic Instruction for 2022 Japanese House of Councillors election (Appendix, revision, draft)’ 第26回参議院選挙の基本方針(補強・修正 素案)」. In the document, RENGO opposed united front between CDP and JCP Communists. Instead, RENGO promotes coalition of CDP and DPP in national elections. It indicates several things below:

a. Ex-Domei (Japanese Confederation of Labour; economic base of CIA’s DSP) confederations still control RENGO.

b. Civil alliance for peace and constitutional (市民連合) and its ideologue Jiro Yamaguchi (1958-)’s so called ‘policy treaty’ (seisaku-kyoutei / 政策協定) is totally empty and deceptive while it just only means RENGO’s electoral support and votes from JCP to let CDP win national elections. In short, Civil alliance for peace and constitutional (市民連合) as a political tactic, it means ‘共産党の票をもらいながら、選挙運動は連合の力を借りるという両面作戦’ (a two-tier operation that using RENGO’s power while getting JCP votes during elections). Therefore, opposition voters were totally deceived by ‘anti-Communist’ con-artists. The policy coalition between CDP and JCP did not exist.

c. There are already known CIA connections:

CIA-KEIDANREN-LDP-DSP(merged)-Domei(merged)-RENGO-CDP-DPP-Shiminrengou - JCP - C.R.A.C.

Jiro Yamaguchi- Shiminrengou- ND(新外交イニシアティブ) - HRW - SEALDs(defunct)-VOICE (Việt Tân)-NOYDA(defunct)-NED-USAID-The State Department

SASPL (defunct) - SEALDs (defunct) - ReDEMOS (defunct) - public4future (defunct) - Blue Japan (ブルージャパン(株)) - CDP - RENGO

Apparently, JCP is essential part of the entire proxy opposition to maintain the status quo. Unlike official narrative of today, the leading Marxist party of Japan was the Socialist JSP not JCP since 1950s to 1970s. In 1978, JSP became ‘moderate’ when the Socialist Association was politically castrated to fit corporatist policy of JCTU (merged) within the party. The Socialist was genuinely revolutionary in practice during the Mao era. It was interestingly synched with policy revision of CCP.

d. The secret document proved that Yukio Edano’s remark of November 12, 2021 on the ‘Opposition Coalition’ (yatou-kyoutou / 野党共闘): 「限定的な閣外からの協力」(limited support outside of the cabinet) was reflection of RENGO’s policy behind the ‘policy treaty’ with other opposition parties. Before resignation of Edano, the newly elected RENGO president Tomoko Yoshino harshly criticized it with her anti-Communist stance on October 7, 2021: 「共産党との閣外協力はあり得ない」(even limited corporation with JCP outside of the cabinet is impossible).

e. Although it seems hopelessly irreversible or unimaginable under the present difficulties, total independence from RENGO and KEIDANREN is one of necessary conditions to change national elections and entire proxy politics for true oppositionists. Japanese opposition can never win as long as playing political games within the CIA-designated framework. When will they determine to end the vicious circle?

Electorate tactics ‘one candidate for one single-member district from the opposition coalition’ or ‘policy treaty’ itself is just purely a mechanical, mathematical and technical matter not the definitive condition for victories.

4. Leftists of the world still misunderstand China’s stance on the collapse of the Soviet Union. After Sino-Soviet split, the major national security threat had been the Soviet Union not the United States for China. Furthermore, the Nixon administration and CCP formed the anti-Soviet coalition in 1972. Thus, CCP was and still is happy with the elimination of nuclear threats from the Soviets in 1991. Schaller’s book perfectly explains this fact.

5. Historical events:

1945 The worst year of GNP

1956 GNP exceeded the 1940s

1965 Trade surplus with US

1989 Taxation ‘reform’ : introduction of rising consumption tax followed with reducing income and corporate tax

1991 The peak of Japan’s economic development

6. Magosaki’s another misinterpretation of this book is about the political nature of Zengakuren. Unlike NED-JCP-backed SEALDs or other imperialist-paid-opposition mascots (i.e. Joshua, Greta, Guaido), anti-JCP Zengakuren was genuinely an independent revolutionary student group of Japan. Only at the near end of the Anpo protests, Zengakuren got almost bankrupt, then CIA tried to infiltrate Zengakuren via right-wing Yakuza intermediaries. Hence, Zengakuren was not a CIA student group at all.

Q&A A Summary

1. The true reason of Japanese surrender to allied forces in 1945:

Atomic bombs? Chinese military victory?

In 1945, Yoshida joined those urging the emperor to negotiate an end to the war before a Soviet invasion or leftist revolution. Although this led to his arrest by the military police, it paid a handsome dividend when the Americans exempted him from the post war purge. (1)

2. The role of Zaibatsu, monopolistic capital, the economic base, driving forces of militarism of Japan:

George Kennan portrayed the attack on the zaibatsu as a ‘vicious’ scheme to destroy the major barrier to Soviet penetration in Asia.

The general MacArthur retorted that the de-concentration program (till 1949) targeted only fifty-six families and that his reforms would prevent a ‘bloodbath of revolutionary violence.’

To prevent left-wing influence or Soviet penetration, America should ‘crank-up’ the Japanese economy and bind Tokyo to the West through a defense pact. (2)

3. Japan’s designated role for America in the 1950s:

Through Japan, the United States could apply ‘tremendous influence over our relations with all of the Orient.’ In the future, Dodge told a congressional committee early in 1950, Japan could be ‘used as a springboard for America, and a country supplying the material goods required for American aid to the Far East.’

Prohibiting Japan’s trade with China before finding an alternative would do little to injure the Communists but would make Tokyo a ‘pensioner of the United States.’

Southeast Asian customers could pay with raw materials, offering Japan an alternative to Chinese supplies. This typified proposals from State, Defense, and Treasury for financing regional trade. (3)

4. Pentagon carved the entire post war Japan proxy system:

To prevent any changes in Japan that might inhibit ‘offensive operations against the Soviets in the event of war,’ military planners promoted a scheme to allow Tokyo greater home rule while leaving Occupational forces in place.

Unsolved questions about Soviet participation in a peace conference, rearmament, and whether to establish permanent American bases in Japan proved especially contentious. (4)

5. Neutralist argument and Shigeru Yoshida’s US colony theory of the post war Japan:

In April 1950, Yoshida attempted to break the deadlock. He told American diplomat Cloyce Huston that despite the public’s support for ‘naturalism,’ he recognized the value of American protection even if it meant providing bases in the home islands. Although rightists and leftists would accuse him of bowing to Washington, the prime minister ‘humorously’ recalled his patron’s humble origin. Just as a weak America eventually dominated Great Britain, he quipped, ‘If Japan becomes a colony of the United States, it will also eventually become the stronger.’ He offered to accept ‘whatever practical arrangement the United States might consider necessary’ to end the Occupation. (5)

6. The Nature of US embargo on the Communist China from 1949 to the 1950s: