Thursday, March 20, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 11: Democracy in the Industrial Societies Segment 3/7
Previous segment |Next segment | Contents | Overview |

3. The "Great Workshops": Japan

Within the industrial world, the "natural leaders" were understood to be Germany and Japan, which had demonstrated their prowess during the war years. They were the "greatest workshops of Europe and Asia" (Dean Acheson). It was, therefore, critically important to guarantee that their reconstruction followed a proper course, and that they remained dependent on the United States. Accordingly, East-West trade and moves towards European détente have always been viewed with some concern. Great efforts were also expended to prevent a renewal of traditional commercial relations between Japan and China particularly in the 1950s, well before China too became integrated into the U.S.-dominated global system. A major goal of American diplomatic strategy, outlined by John Foster Dulles at a closed regional meeting of American Ambassadors in Asia in March 1955, was "to develop markets for Japan in Southeast Asia in order to counteract Communist trade efforts and to promote trade between Japan and Southeast Asia countries," Chitoshi Yanaga wrote in the 1960s. The general conclusion is amplified by documentation subsequently released in the Pentagon Papers and elsewhere. U.S. intervention in Vietnam was initially motivated, in large measure, by such concerns.10

At the time, Japan was not regarded as a serious competitor; we may dismiss self-serving illusions about how Japanese recovery and competition proves that the U.S. was selfless in its postwar planning. It was taken for granted that Japan would, one way or another, regain its status as "the workshop of Asia" and would be at the center of something like the "co-prosperity sphere" that Japanese fascism had attempted to create. The realistic alternatives, it was assumed, were that this system would be incorporated within the U.S. global order, or that it would be independent, possibly blocking U.S. entry, perhaps even linked to the Soviet Union. As for Japan itself, the prospect generally anticipated was that it might produce "knick-knacks" and other products for the underdeveloped world, as a U.S. survey mission concluded in 1950.11

In part, the dismissive assessment of Japan's prospects was based on the failure of Japanese industrial recovery prior to the economic stimulus of military procurements for the Korean war. In part, there was doubtless an element of racism, illustrated, for example, in the reaction of the business community to the democratic labor laws introduced by the U.S. military occupation. These laws were opposed by business generally. They were bitterly denounced by James Lee Kauffman, one of the influential members of the business lobby that worked to impede the democratization of Japan. Representing industrialists with an interest in cheap and docile labor, he wrote indignantly in 1947 that Japanese workers had to be treated as juveniles. "You can imagine what would happen in a family of children of ten years or less if they were suddenly told...that they could run the house and their own lives as they pleased." Japanese labor had gone "hog wild," he wrote. "If you have ever seen an American Indian spending his money shortly after oil has been discovered on his property you will have some idea of how the Japanese worker is using the Labor Law." The racist attitudes of General MacArthur, American proconsul for Japan after World War II, was notorious. Thus, in congressional testimony in 1951, he said that "Measured by the standards of modern civilization, they would be like a boy of twelve as compared with our development of forty-five years," a fact that allowed us to "implant basic concepts there": "They were still close enough to origin to be elastic and acceptable to new concepts." In more recent years the compliment has been returned by right-wing Japanese commentators on U.S. culture and society.12

Nevertheless, some foresaw problems down the road, notably the influential planner George Kennan, who recommended that the U.S. control Japanese oil imports so as to maintain "veto power" over Japan, advice that was followed.13 This is one of many reasons why the United States has been so concerned to control the oil reserves of the Middle East throughout the postwar period, and presumably also a reason for Japanese reluctance to follow the U.S. lead on Middle East problems.

In Japan the United States was able to act unilaterally, having excluded its allies from any role in the occupation.14 General MacArthur encouraged steps towards democratization, though within limits. Militant labor action was barred, including attempts to establish workers control over production. Even the partial steps towards democracy scandalized the State Department, U.S. corporations and labor leadership, and the U.S. media. George Kennan and others warned against a premature end to the occupation before the economy was reconstructed under stable conservative rule. These pressures led to the "reverse course" of 1947, which ensured that there would be no serious challenge to government-corporate domination over labor, the media and the political system.

Under the reverse course, worker-controlled companies, which were operating with considerable success, were eliminated. Support was given to right-wing socialists who had been fascist collaborators and were committed to U.S.-style business unionism under corporate control, while leftists who had been jailed under fascist rule were excluded, the normal pattern worldwide. Labor was suppressed with considerable police violence, and elimination of the right to strike and collective bargaining. The goal was to ensure business control over labor through conservative unions. Industrial unions were undermined by the late 1940s, as the industrial-financial conglomerates (Zaibatsu), which were at the heart of Japan's fascist order, regained their power with the assistance of an elaborate police and surveillance network and rightist patriotic organizations. The Japanese business classes were reconstituted much as under the fascist regime, placed in power in close collaboration with the authorities of the centralized state. George Kennan, who was one of the leading architects of the reverse course, regarded the early plans to dissolve the Zaibatsu as bearing "so close a resemblance to Soviet views about the evils of `capitalist monopolies' that the measures themselves could only have been eminently agreeable to anyone interested in the further communization of Japan."15 By 1952, Japan's industrial and financial elites had not only established themselves as the dominant element in Japan, but were exercising "control over a more concentrated and interconnected system of corporations than before the war" (Schonberger). The burden of reconstruction was placed upon the working class and the poor, within a system described as "totalitarian state capitalism" by Sherwood Fine, who served as Director of Economics and Planning in the Economic and Scientific Section throughout the U.S. military occupation. These policies "allowed Japanese corporate elites to avoid the social rationalization that would have provided a thriving domestic market to sustain industry" (Borden) -- by now, posing a problem for Japan's Western rivals.

Borden observes that Britain, with its powerful labor unions and welfare system, was concerned over "ultracompetitive export pricing made possible by exploiting labor and enfeebling unions" in Japan under U.S. pressure. "The British response was to defend the rights of Japanese workers and to promote China as the logical outlet for Japan's exports." But those ideas conflicted with U.S. global planning, which sought to prevent Japan from accommodating to Communist China, and with the development model preferred by the U.S. and its Japanese corporate allies. While Japanese corporate conglomerates were reinforced, labor was weakened and splintered, with the collaboration of U.S. labor leaders, as elsewhere in the world. Britain itself was to face a similar attack on unions and the welfare system, as did the United States itself, beginning with the assault on labor in the early postwar period, renewed by the bipartisan consensus of the post-Vietnam period in support of business interests.

The United States essentially reconstructed the co-prosperity sphere of Japanese fascism, though now as a component of the U.S.-dominated global order. Within it, Japanese state capitalism was granted a relatively free hand. The U.S. undertook the major military burden of crushing indigenous threats to this system, renewing a traditional perception of Japan as a junior partner in the exploitation of Asia.

By now, Japan has perhaps the weakest labor movement in the industrial capitalist world, with the possible exception of the United States itself. It is a disciplined society, under the firm control of the traditional state capitalist management. The Korean war sparked Japanese economic recovery. U.S. military procurement through the 1950s "played a critical role in supplying the dollars, demand, technology, and market for the modernization of the industrial base in Japan," and the rapid increase from 1965 accelerated the process.16 By the 1970s, these developments were raising serious and unanticipated problems for the U.S. government and corporations, problems that are likely to intensify as it becomes necessary to face the consequences of Reaganite economic mismanagement.

Go to the next segment.

10 Yanaga, Big Business in Japanese Politics (Yale, 1968), 265f. See my At War with Asia, introduction, and For Reasons of State, chapter 1 (published in England as The Backroom Boys (Fontana)), sec. V; Chomsky and Howard Zinn, eds., Critical Essays, vol. 5 of the Pentagon Papers. Also a good deal of recent scholarship, including Michael Schaller, "Securing the Great Crescent," J. of American History, Sept. 1982, and his American Occupation of Japan; Andrew J. Rotter, The Path to Vietnam (Cornell, 1987). Acheson, cited by Schaller, American Occupation, 97.

11 Ibid., 222. See chapter 1, p. 46f.

12 John Roberts, "The `Japan Crowd' and the Zaibatsu Restoration," The Japan Interpreter, 12, Summer 1979. MacArthur, Howard B. Schonberger, Aftermath of War (Kent State, 1989), 52-3. Japanese attitudes, Akio Morita and Shintaro Ishihara, The Japan That Can Say No. On the racist attitudes on both sides during the War, which reached shocking proportions, see John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (Pantheon, 1986).

13 See chapter 1, p. 53.

14 For background on what follows, see Joe Moore, Japanese Workers and the Struggle for Power, 1945-1947 (U. of Wisconsin, 1983); Schaller, American Occupation; William Borden, Pacific Alliance; Howard Schonberger, "The Japan Lobby in American Diplomacy, 1947-1952," Pacific Historical Review, Aug. 1977, and his Aftermath of War; Roberts, "The `Japan Crowd'"; Cumings, "Power and Plenty in Northeast Asia," World Policy Journal, Winter 1987-88.

15 Kennan, cited by Schonberger, Aftermath, 77.

16 Schaller, American Occupation, 296. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 8:07 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home