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Japanese “Peaceniks” Face Wake-up Call Whether Trump or Clinton Wins U.S. Presidency
【ニッポンの新常識】Common Knowledge Revisited 66
Donald Trump may really become president of the United States. Almost no one predicted the present situation when he declared his candidacy 11 months ago. As far as I know, virtually all the pundits in both Japan and the U.S., including me commenting during Japanese news programs, said it was impossible. This is a truly stunning embarrassment.
People make predictions and judgments based on previously-gained knowledge and experience. Knowledge tends to be useful in most cases, but when “times are changing” it becomes possible for people with the most extensive experience to make the most serious errors in judgment based on their predilections and conjectures.
The founder of major carmaker Honda, Mr. Soichiro Honda, believed deeply in the air-cooled engine. For that reason, at one point Honda’s future was in doubt. However, young engineers realized that water cooling was superior, and the vice president at the time convinced Honda to Switch course, thus avoiding a serious crisis.
If there had been only yes-men in the Honda corporate organization, and if Mr. Honda had not been open minded enough to listen to the admonitions of his employees, world-famous Honda Motor Company would have gone bankrupt.
Mr. Trump’s meteoric rise has made me realize anew that America is a country where people take big chances. For Americans, change is considered a “good” thing, and dramatic change is even more attractive.
Conversely, neglecting to right wrongs is a “bad” thing. The possibility of improvement or advancement without change is zero. The idea is to experiment with change, and if it doesn’t work out, to change back.
When Japanese realize something is wrong, they tend to overlook it and avoid bringing the problem into the open. That accumulated neglect has increased the scale of various “national problems.”
Politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, and perhaps Japanese people as a whole assume infallibility (that reasoning and judgment are correct), and have only a light sense of guilt over sins of omission.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) with its financial and military strength continues to openly defy international law and to promote anti-Japanese propaganda. North Korea has formally announced that it possesses nuclear arms. It no longer so much as comments upon the issue of the Japanese abductees.
In addition, Mr. Trump asserts that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is unfair, and that unless Japan pays all the costs of stationing American troops in Japan the U.S. military will withdraw from Japan entirely. World order is on the verge of collapse due to the refugee crisis in Europe in connection with the rise of IS (the so-called Islamic State), etc. Those talking in their sleep [another way in Japanese to say “talking nonsense”] about abolishing the “Security Laws” should go to sleep before talking.
It is impossible at this point to predict which way the presidential election will turn out, but whether the new president is Mr. Trump or China-leaning former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, there is no doubt that the result should jar the peaceniks in Japan out of their reverie.
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