Antisemitism in Japan
With only a small and relatively obscure Jewish population, Japan had no traditional antisemitism until nationalist ideology and propaganda influenced a small number of Japanese in the years preceding World War II. During the war, Japan's ally Nazi Germany encouraged Japan to adopt antisemitic policies. In the post-war period, extremist groups and ideologues have promoted conspiracy theories, but antisemitism has not become a widespread phenomenon in Japan.
In 1918, the Imperial Japanese Army sent troops to Siberia to cooperate with the White movement. White Army soldiers had been issued copies of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and Japanese soldiers first learned about antisemitism. The Protocols continue to be used as evidence of Jewish conspiracies even though they are widely acknowledged to be a forgery.
According to Dr. David Kranzler:
- "The key to the distinction between the Japanese and the European form of antisemitism seems to lie in the long Christian tradition of identifying the Jew with the Devil, the Antichrist or someone otherwise beyond redemption...The Japanese lacked this Christian image of the Jew and brought to their reading of the Protocols a totally different perspective. The Christian tried to solve the problem of the Jew by eliminating him; the Japanese tried to harness his alleged immense wealth and power to Japan's advantage."
In 1925 Captain Norihiro Yasue published the first translation of the Protocols in Japanese. A Russian-language specialist, he was assigned to the staff of General Gregorii Semenov, a vehement anti-Semite who distributed copies of the Protocols to all of his troops. Along with a few dozen other Japanese soldiers, Yasue read and accepted the premises of the Protocols, and contributed for a time to various antisemitic publications, including Kokusai Himitsu Ryoku no Kenkyu (国際秘密力の研究, Studies in the International Conspiracy), under the pen-name Hō Kōshi. He later changed his views when in 1940 Japan signed the Tripartite Pact which formally sealed Japan's alliance with Nazi Germany. His newly pro-Semitic stance led to his dismissal from the Japanese Army.
During the 1930s Minetaro Yamanaka (山中峯太郎) wrote stories about the Yudayaka, the "Jewish Peril". A major journalist at the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun, Yamanaka was a prolific author of children's fiction who serialized the novel Daitō no Tetsujin (Superman of the Great Orient) from August 1933 until the end of 1934 in the periodical Shōnen Kurabu (Youth Club), read mainly by Japanese children between the ages of 8 and 12. The hero of this story is the detective Hongō Yoshiaki who battles the villain Sekima, head of the shadowy Zion Alliance, a Jewish secret organization seeking to undermine the Japanese Empire. A typical quote from Superman of the Great Orient:
- "There are about 13.5 million Jews scattered around the world. Hundreds of years ago they gobbled up all the world's wealth. Especially in the United States, Britain, France, and in other Western countries too, there are many rich Jews who do whatever they want with the money of the people...This wealth is used to increase the invisible Jewish power throughout Europe and the United States...These scary Jews have a secret society called the Zion Alliance. The goal of the Zion Alliance is...that all nations be ruled by Jews...This is a real global conspiracy."
Yamanaka stopped writing with the surrender of Japan in August 1945, but Kodansha Ltd. continued reprinting this series until the 1970s.
In 1936 Lieutenant General Nobutaka Shiōden re-translated the Protocols into Japanese. Shiōden had become a fervent anti-Semite and a believer in Jewish conspiracy theory while he was studying in France. When he returned to Japan he became the leading voice of antisemitic propaganda.
Brian Victoria states that Tanaka Chigaku promoted antisemitism in Japan starting in 1937 with the publication of Shishi-ō Zenshū Daisan-shū (Complete Works of the Lion King), in which he said:
- "At present sixty to seventy percent of the world's money is said to be in Jewish hands. There are many poor and penniless countries that end up having to accept capital from abroad in order to get by, and consequently they have to submit to Jews in order to borrow the money they need. Typically Jews invest in transportation facilities, electric plants, railways and subways. ... The reason for this is based on the plan contained in the Protocols to constantly foment revolution in various countries, eventually leading to their collapse. It is then that the Jews will be able to take over.
According to Victoria, "Tanaka argued that Jews were fomenting social unrest in order to rule the world. He ... [points out] that Jews advocated liberalism, especially within academic circles, as part of their plan to destroy the people's moral sense ... Helped by men like Tanaka, antisemitism spread rapidly throughout Japanese society despite the near-total absence of Jews."
World War II
In 1941 SS-Colonel Josef Meisinger tried to influence the Japanese to exterminate approximately 18,000–20,000 Jews who had escaped from Austria and Germany and who were living in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. His proposals included the creation of a concentration camp on Chongming Island in the delta of the Yangtze, or starvation on freighters off the coast of China. The Japanese admiral responsible for overseeing Shanghai would not yield to pressure from Meisinger; however, the Japanese built a ghetto in the neighborhood of Hongkew which had already been planned by Tokyo in 1939: a slum with about twice the population density of Manhattan. The ghetto was strictly isolated by Japanese soldiers under the command of the Japanese official Kano Ghoya, and Jews could only leave it with special permission. Some 2,000 of them died in the Shanghai Ghetto during the wartime period.
However, Japan refused to adopt an official policy against the Jews. On 31 December 1940, Japanese foreign minister Yōsuke Matsuoka told a group of Jewish businessmen: "Nowhere have I promised that we would carry out Hitler's anti-Semitic policies in Japan. This is not simply my personal opinion, it is the opinion of Japan." Nonetheless, until 1945 the Holocaust was systematically concealed by the leadership in Tokyo.
We must be aware of the existence of the demonic teachings of the Jews who assert things like [the existence of] equality in the phenomenal world, thereby distorting public order in our nation's society and destroying [governmental] control. Not only this, these demonic conspirators hold the deep-seated delusion and blind belief that ... they alone have been chosen by God and are [therefore] an exceptionally superior people. The result of all this is a treacherous design to usurp [control of] and dominate the entire world, thus provoking the great upheavals of today.
Although Yasutani was well known to have been a friend and mentor of the Nazi propagandist Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, Victoria feels that Japanese antisemitism evolved independently from the "heart of the 'home-grown' reactionary social role that institutional Buddhism played in Japanese society following the Meiji Period."
Post-World War II
On May 30, 1972 three Japanese Red Army members arrived at the Lod Airport near Tel Aviv aboard Air France Flight 132 from Rome. Acting on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, they entered the waiting area of the airport and, in what became known as the Lod Airport Massacre, they grabbed automatic firearms from their carry-on cases and fired at airport staff and visitors. In the end, 26 people died and 80 people were injured.
At the end of 20th century, many books about Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory were sold. Numerous theories and explanations for the alleged Jewish control of the world were circulated. These books, called tondemo-bon (outrageous or preposterous books), contained elements of the occult and tabloid-style speculation.
In 1979, a book named 日本人に謝りたい あるユダヤ人の懺悔 Nihonjin ni ayamaritai - Aru yudayajin no zange (I'd like to apologize to the Japanese: A Jewish elder's confession) was published. The author of this book, Mordecai Mose (モルデカイ・モーゼ), called himself a rabbi, but actually, it was a pseudonym of the self-styled translator of this book, Masao Kubota (久保田政男). Kubota also spread the rumor that "Enola Gay" means "Kill the Emperor" in Yiddish. This rumor is groundless, but anti-Semites in Japan still give credence to it.
In 1984, a book named 世界を動かすユダヤ・パワーの秘密 Sekai wo ugokasu yudaya pawah no himitsu (Secrets of the Jewish Power which Controls the World) was published. This book is based on Jewish conspiracy theory. The author, Eizaburo Saito (斉藤栄三郎), was a leading member of the Liberal Democratic Party.
In 1986, a book named ユダヤが解ると世界が見えてくる Yudaya ga wakaruto sekai ga miete kuru (To Watch Jews Is to See the World Clearly) became one of Japan's best sellers. This book is also based on the Protocols and the author, Masami Uno (宇野正美), writes that the Ashkenazim are actually descendants of Khazarian, hence they are "fake Jews", and that Sephardim are true pedigreed Jews. According to him, some of the Japanese are the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and that the Japanese Sephardim will defeat the Ashkenazim.
The same year a book named これからの１０年間 ユダヤ・プロトコール超裏読み術―あなたに起こるショッキングな現実 Yudaya purotokoru cho-urayomi-jutsu (The Expert Way to Read Jewish Protocols) also became one of Japan's bestsellers. The author, Kinji Yajima (矢島鈞次, 1919-1994), an economist and a professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, stated that although the Protocols is probably a forgery,
- "...it was put together from the results of all the research ever done on the Jews...There is no doubt that the contents consist of the wisdom of the Jews."
In 1987, a magazine named 歴史読本 Rekishi dokuhon (The History Magazine) featured articles titled 世界、謎のユダヤ Sekai, nazo no yudaya (The world of the Mysterious Jews) which insisted that the Watergate scandal and the Lockheed bribery scandals were Jewish conspiracies. It also reported that former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka said "Yudaya Nelson Rockefeller ni yarareta, yudaya ni ki wo tsukero," [I've been gotten by Jews, Nelson Rockefeller, be wary of Jews] when he was released on bail in 1976.
Between 1992 and 1995 Aum Shinrikyo, a controversial Buddhist religious group, also distributed conspiracy theories to attract Japanese readers as part of their recruitment efforts. Its founder, Shoko Asahara, was influenced by Goto Ben's 1973 book, ノストラダムスの大予言 Nostradamusu no Daiyogen (Prophecies of Nostradamus), a loose translation of the Prophecies which became a bestseller in Japan. It is reported that Hideo Murai, one of the leaders of Aum Shinrikyo, uttered "Yudaya ni yarareta" [Jews got me], when he was stabbed to death. Later Aum abandoned these populist writings and changed their name to Aleph, the first letter of Hebrew alphabet.
In February 1995 a magazine named Marco Polo (マルコポーロ), a 250,000-circulation monthly aimed at Japanese males, ran a Holocaust denial article by physician Masanori Nishioka (西岡昌紀) which stated:
- "The 'Holocaust' is a fabrication. There were no execution gas chambers in Auschwitz or in any other concentration camp. Today, what are displayed as 'gas chambers' at the remains of the Auschwitz camp in Poland are a post-war fabrication by the Polish communist regime or by the Soviet Union, which controlled the country. Not once, neither at Auschwitz nor in any territory controlled by the Germans during the Second World War, was there 'mass murder of Jews' in 'gas chambers.'"
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center instigated a boycott of Bungei Shunju advertisers, including Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, and Cartier. Within days, Bungei Shunju shut down Marco Polo and its editor, Kazuyoshi Hanada, quit, as did the president of Bungei Shunju, Kengo Tanaka.
In October 1999 a Japanese publication, The Weekly Post, published a story on the proposed acquisition of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan by Ripplewood Holdings, which the article described as being "Jewish":
- "The strong will of Jewish finance capital, which prides itself on its enormous power and covers the world's financial markets like a fine net, was behind the buyout of LTCBJ. It is not hard to imagine that the offensive of Jewish finance capital will intensify the cutthroat struggle for survival among companies brought on by the 1997 Asian financial crisis."
This soon generated strong complaints by Jewish groups, particularly outside Japan. The Weekly Post quickly retracted the article and carried an apology on its home page. The publication explained its error by noting that "the problem stemmed from the stereotyped image of the Jewish people that many Japanese people have."
On March 8, 2009, Soichiro Tahara (田原総一朗), political journalist and host of TV Asahi's Sunday Project program, told Makiko Tanaka that her father, former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, was “done in by America, by the Jews and Ozawa, (leader of the Democratic Party of Japan) too, was done in [by America and/or the Jews]” during a live broadcast. The Simon Wiesenthal Center strongly criticized Tahara for antisemitic and anti-American accusations.
In 2014, 31 municipal libraries in Japan reported having 265 copies of the The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and other books vandalized, usually with several pages torn or ripped out. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that police were investigating. Japanese politician Nariaki Nakayama said that the act could not have been committed by a Japanese, saying that it was against Japanese sensibilities. A 36-year-old man was arrested in connection with the vandalism on March 14, however in June prosecutors announced that they would not press charges after a psychiatric evaluation revealed that the man was mentally incompetent.
According to an ADL telephone survey of 500 people, 23% +/- 4.4% of the adult population in Japan harbor antisemitic attitudes. Furthermore, the study reveals that 46% of the population agree with the statement "Jews think they are better than other people", and that almost half of the respondents (49%) think that "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Japan". However, this survey has been critiqued for being unreasonably simplistic in its classification of "harboring antisemetic attitudes".
- History of the Jews in Japan
- Judaism in Japan
- Fugu Plan
- Shanghai ghetto
- Israel–Japan relations
- Lod Airport massacre
- Ethnic issues in Japan
- Chiune Sugihara
- Jewish settlement in the Japanese Empire
- Norihiro Yasue
- Goodman & Miyazawa 1995, pp. 259–60: "Japanese antisemitism is an eruption of the darkness of modern history. It is a malign version of the basic patterns of Japanese culture. It derives from the virulent political obscurantism of Japanese xenophobes, who pandered paranoid fantasies throughout the modern period to assuage their feelings of insecurity and anomie. It is an integral component of the ideology that, in the 1930s, assumed control of Japan and precipitated World War II. It is the hidden, grotesque face of the wartime chauvinism that survived, transformed, after the war. To deny the historical roots of Japanese antisemitism is to ignore the historical legacy of Japanese ethnic nationalism and to deny the historical continuity of Japan."
- Esther Webman, The Global Impact of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: A Century-Old Myth, Jewish Studies Series, Routledge, 2012. ISBN 1136706100
- Japanese, Nazis & Jews: The Jewish Refugee Community in Shanghai, 1938-1945 by David Kranzler. p. 207.
- David S. Wyman, Charles H. Rosenzveig, Charles H. Rosenzveig, The World Reacts to the Holocaust, JHU Press, 1996 ISBN 0801849691
- Jacob Kovalio, The Russian Protocols of Zion in Japan: Yudayaka/Jewish Peril Propaganda and Debates in the 1920s, Vol. 64 of Asian Thought and Culture, Peter Lang, 2009 ISBN 1433106094; pp. 32-34.
- Brian Victoria, Zen War Stories, London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003; p. 80.
- Tanaka Chigaku, Shishi-ō Zenshū Daisan-shū, (Complete Works of the Lion King, Part Three), vol. 6, 1937, Tokyo: Shishi-o Bunko.
- Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz, The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of The Japanese And The Jews During World War II, Gefen Publishing House Ltd, 2004. ISBN 9652293296
- O'Neill, Mark, "A Saved Haven: Plans to rejuvenate Shanghai's rundown former Jewish ghetto will celebrate the district's role as a sanctuary during the Second World War", South China Morning Post, August 1, 2006; Features: Behind the News; p. 11.
- Jane Shlensky, "Considering Other Choices: Chiune Sugihara's Rescue of Polish Jews," North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Durham, NC, 2003, p. 6.
- Patrick E. Tyler, "Jews Revisit Shanghai, Grateful Still that it Sheltered Them." New York Times, June 29, 1994.
- Heppner, Ernest G., "Strange Haven: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Shanghai (review)", in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Volume 19, Number 3, Spring 2001, pp. 160–161.
- Ernest G. HeppnerShanghai Refuge – A Memoir of the World War II Jewish Ghetto, Bison books, U of Nebraska Press, 1993 ISBN 0803223684.
- Daniel Ari Kapner and Stephen Levine, "The Jews of Japan," Jerusalem Letter, No. 425 24 Adar I 5760 / 1 March 2000, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- Haku'un Yasutani, Dōgen Zenji to Shūshōgi (道元禅師と修證義). Tōkyō: Fujishobō, 1943, p. 19.
- CBC News, The Fifth Estate, "Fasten Your Seatbelts: Ben Gurion Airport in Israel", 2007.
- Iam Buruma, "The Jewish Conspiracy in Asia," Project Syndicate 6 Feb 2009
- Adam Garfinkle, Jewcentricity: Why the Jews Are Praised, Blamed, and Used to Explain Just About Everything, John Wiley & Sons, 2009 ISBN 047059781X
- Michael L. Beeman, Public Policy and Economic Competition in Japan: Change and Continuity in Antimonopoly Policy, 1973-1995 Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies, Routledge, 2003 ISBN 1134533780
- Abraham H. Foxman, Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype, Macmillan, 2010; p. 76. ISBN 9781136706103
- Shoko Asahara, Nosutoradamusu himitsu no Daiyogen, [The Secret Prophecy of Nostradamus], Tokyo, Aum Shuppan, 1991.
- Lifton, Robert Jay (2000). Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism. Macmillan. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-0-8050-6511-4. Retrieved 2014. Check date values in:
- Masanori Nishioka, "The Greatest Taboo of Postwar World History: There Were No Nazi 'Gas Chambers'" Marco Polo, February 1995.
- "The IHR Denounces Campaign Against Japanese Publishing Company," The Journal of Historical Review, March/April 1995 (Vol. 15, No. 2), page 9.
- Toshikawa Takao, "Jewish Capital Accelerates the Law of the Jungle," quoted in Jews in the Japanese Mind: The History and Uses of a Cultural Stereotype, Studies of modern Japan, Lexington Books, 2000; pp. 276-78. ISBN 0739101676
- Wiesenthal Center Denounces Japanese TV News Personality For Blaming Political Scandals on America and the Jews, March 9, 2009
- Martin Fackler, "Hundreds of Anne Frank Books Vandalized in Japan," New York Times, Feb. 21, 2014
- Wiesenthal Center Expresses Shock and Deep Concern Over Mass Desecrations of The Diary of Anne Frank in Japanese Libraries
- Hundreds of Copies of Anne Frank Diaries Vandalized around Tokyo
- Abdul Kuddus, "Japan arrests man over Anne Frank book vandalism"
- "No charges for Japanese in Anne Frank diary vandalism case." The Straits Times, 19 June 2014
- "ADL global 100: Japan". ADL. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- Jesse Singal, "The ADL’s Flawed Anti-Semitism Survey," New York Magazine, May 14, 2014
- Togakkai (the Academy of Outrageous Books) (Japanese text only)
- Review of Jews in the Japanese Mind, a seminal book on Japanese attitudes toward Jews by David G. Goodman and Miyazawa Masanori.
- On Ignorance, Respect and Suspicion: Current Japanese Attitudes toward Jews by Rotem Kowner. A large-scale study of Japanese views of Jews.
- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Aum, and Antisemitism in Japan (PDF) by David G. Goodman.
- On Symbolic Antisemitism: Motives for the Success of the Protocols in Japan and Its Consequences by Rotem Kowner. A critical essay.