Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Why Is Japan So In Hock to Washington's Establishment?

The Japanese political elite are bent on supporting the excesses of American imperialism.


On April 11, 2024, Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio stood at the dais in the United States Congress and smiled. He had just delivered an oration which had been met with thunderous applause. More than a dozen standing ovations, the exuberant press in Japan crowed. Like Sally Fields at the Academy Awards, Kishida could finally say, on behalf of his fellow aspirational Washingtonians in Tokyo, “You like me. Right now, you like me!

And what wasn’t to like? Kishida had gone to the “citadel of democracy” to pledge fealty to Washington’s planetary hegemony. Of course he was warmly received.


It wasn’t as easy as it looked. Kishida’s crowning achievement in Washington this April was the culmination of a very long series of calculated capitulations. Kishida has built his political career on toadying to the Swamp, and it paid off this April, when he put his country, and his countrymen, in the service of the Washington brand. “We are with you,” he said, garnering one of his dozen-plus roof-raisers under the rotunda. We are, he continued, America’s “global partner”.

The outline of Kishida’s speech had been written by Americans—much like the entirety of his country’s constitution. I see both things as disgraceful. And yet I was once, long ago, a proponent of the U.S.-Japan alliance nevertheless, seeing in it a force for good in Asia. It was in that spirit that I wanted Japan’s leaders to revise the constitution which the Americans had imposed on them and so finally take her place among the mighty nations arrayed under the banner of freedom and democracy.

Yet Japan’s leadership, far from desiring to be independent of the American political class, schemed tirelessly how more efficiently to do Washington’s bidding.

In the spring of 2023, at an event marking the 76th anniversary of the coming into effect of the postwar Japanese constitution on May 3, 1947, I delivered a short speech in Tokyo about constitutional reform. Up until that point I had been strongly in favor of it. But, as I stood at the podium, I saw in front of me the cream of the pro-American crop in Japan, and a cloud passed over my conventional understanding. 

There, in the front row, was Sakurai Yoshiko, journalist and opinion leader who seems to have been born to follow Washington’s lead. Next to her was Takubo Tadae, who, until his passing in February of 2024, was even more skilled than Sakurai at repackaging Washington-centric geopolitics as Japanese patriotism. There was Shimada Kazuhiko, the former Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense and, to this day, unfailing yes-man for those in government who want further to balloon the military-industrial complex in Japan. And there was Iwata Kiyofumi, former Ground Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff and now, in retirement, the chiseled face of the slavish military establishment, whose many members live and breathe subservience to their American masters. Were we talking about constitutional reform for Japan’s sake, or for Washington’s?


As I turned around during my talk to gesture to the banner above the stage behind me, I noticed that the event was on its 25th iteration. Twenty-five times in a row, the pro-Washington conservatives in Japan had rented a giant hall in downtown Tokyo and filled it with gullible retirees who sincerely believe—because Sakurai Yoshiko and Takubo Tadae told them so—that they must change their Washington-imposed constitution. Why? Because Washington is their friend, and the world is neatly divided into the freedom and democracy camp, and the camp led by Putin the Dictator. The argument ran that the constitution must be changed, not so Japan can be free of American influence, but so it can pursue American interests at an even higher level. Nobody put it in so many words. But this is precisely how the constitutional-reform game works out.

The event was graced with the presence, via pretaped video message, of Prime Minister Kishida himself. His giant mug was projected onto a screen in the corner of the hall, mouth moving to declare that constitutional reform must happen soon.

Constitutional reform was not the fast track to independence for Japan after all. I expected the Japanese establishment to reform the constitution, throw off the American yoke, and finally, after nearly eight decades of shameful kowtowing to a foreign power, stand tall and take charge of its own destiny. But as I watched Kishida, Washington’s creature, discuss the merits of revising the constitution, the naivete of that vision became palpable.

Japan has many patriotic conservatives. They sincerely love their country and want to make life better for Japanese people. But this bloc of goodhearted men and women, tens of millions strong, has been cruelly betrayed, not just by Sakurai Yoshiko and Takubo Tadae, but also by the media and think-tank complex that pretends to serve their interests. The Sankei Shimbun, where I was an occasional columnist, cheerleads Washington’s every imperialist endeavor. Seiron, the monthly newsmagazine companion to the Sankei, is even worse. Its pages are crowded with Washington propaganda, its pro-American writers to a woman and man convinced (or, perhaps, paid to be convinced) that Washington is the source and summit of Japanese political life. 

This isn’t simply a case of people living in a post-Cold War world trying to shoehorn new and complex realities into the geopolitical dramas of the past. This, I think, is active delusion at best, or, as I now suspect, Washington-funded chicanery.

Getting facts straight is not why Seiron exists. Its purpose is elsewhere. When someone inside of Japan raises points inconvenient to, say Joe Biden or Tony Blinken, Seiron, the Sankei Shimbun, and the crowd of Washington lackeys in Japan rush to quell the dissent. In October of last year, for example, Seiron ran an issue filled with smug denunciations, by the usual pro-Washington suspects, of the “conspiracy theories” of those questioning this or that Washington narrative. Mabuchi Mutsuo came in for particularly rough treatment. Mabuchi has dared to observe, in public, that Ukraine’s government is corrupt and that the war there is much more complex than Washington would have us believe. Never mind that Mabuchi was once Japan’s ambassador to Ukraine. Anyone who does not fall into line with Washington’s propaganda is fenced out of national discourse by Washington’s media puppets. Seiron duly canceled Mabuchi, the annoying naysayer poking holes in the State Department’s fairy tales about Eastern Europe.

How did this happen? How did a once-proud nation become the unmanly lapdog of Beltway insiders?

The answer is very simple. There was a segment of Japanese society in the early postwar, typified by Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, that was more than willing to work for the Americans in the enslavement of their countrymen. The Americans ordered a widescale censorship campaign. It was their Japanese collaborators, by the thousands and thousands, who carried it out. Japanese people opened mail in big rooms, scanning daily correspondence for any sign of skepticism about their new blue-eyed overlords. It was freedom and democracy, American style, or else. One might have thought that the lesson about the purity of Washington’s motives had been learned at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or during the firebombing of Tokyo. But, no. Quislingism springs eternal. 

It took an army of Japanese office workers, working for the American military government, to make sure that subversive thoughts, especially thoughts of independence, did not surface among the defeated and occupied Japanese population. That segment of the Japanese population which once served Washington raised up others to do the same, until, in 2024, one finds Seiron and the Sankei Shimbun continuing to keep the Washingtonian faith, almost like Hidden Christians waiting for the foreigners to return and congratulate them.

For decades, Japan has been under the political control (with generous CIA funding) of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is neither liberal nor democratic nor a political party. It is a vehicle for Washington’s rule in Japan. LDP politicians like Arimura Haruko and Aoyama Shigeharu pretend to be rock-ribbed conservatives, but both are cheap Benedict Arnolds, whose real job is to sell their country to American power. Their leader is Prime Minister Kishida, the Oriental Zelensky.

But no matter how hard Washington and its tools in Japan try, independence from Washington—the final postwar taboo—keeps rearing its head. Recently I made the acquaintance of Haraguchi Kazuhiro. Haraguchi is a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) of Japan, a lefty party which the conservatives in Japan love lampooning. CDP has a lot of boneheaded ideas, but I know Haraguchi a man of integrity. He may be one of just five patriots in the entire Japanese Diet. (The other four, by my count, are Suzuki Muneo, Sugita Mio, Ishiba Shigeru, and Kamiya Sohei.) Haraguchi informed me a few days ago of his efforts to tweak legislation so that Blackrock would have a harder time filching money from the Japanese people. (Blackrock CEO Larry Fink was, of course, on the guestlist for Kishida’s state dinner at the White House in April.) 

It was a shocking conversation. It isn’t just that Washington is angling to involve Japan in its next forever-war, and that Japan’s leaders are cooperating. It’s that Washington’s bankrollers are already sinking their fingers into the Japanese people’s pocketbooks. And almost everyone in Japan—including almost every self-styled “conservative”—is sitting back and watching it happen. Many are encouraging it.

This nauseating scheme is propped up by the fake conservative media in Japan. The aforementioned Sankei Shimbun and Seiron are classics of the Vichy genre, but there are many, many more. Pundits flock to internet shows to peddle the same pro-American shtick. The American media joins in the chorus. Recently, Rahm Emanuel, Washington’s proconsul in Tokyo, has been playing up the be-afraid-of-China line. He also has insinuated himself into the efforts to bring home Japanese people kidnapped by North Korean agents. Emanuel has no interest in protecting Japan from China or in bringing home the disappeared to their families, of course. Reminding Japan that it is not secure without American guarantees is the perfect method for keeping Tokyo under Washington’s thumb in perpetuity.

When war broke out in Ukraine more than two years ago, Washington had yet another ghoulish face with which to subtly threaten Japan, namely that of Vladimir Putin. At a dinner party a couple of years ago, I heard Sakurai Yoshiko exclaim that Japan must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the West in Ukraine. And she has done little but amp up her Ukraine-boosterism since then.

But in Sakurai’s pushing of the Ukraine scam, one sees the true nature of her game. In January of 2024, Sakurai Yoshiko found herself in hot internet water when she reposted a provocation by former Japan Air Self-Defense Force general Orita Kunio. Orita had asked, rhetorically, whether young people in Japan were ready to die for their homeland. Sakurai bandied this about online, doubling down on Orita’s point. 

The reaction was caustic. “You first,” was probably the most common response. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to share a stage with Orita. I criticized the Sankei Shimbun and Seiron as dupes of Washington. Orita, who still writes for the Sankei and who won a grand prize from Seiron, defended the journalistic outlets. “They never censor me,” he retorted. I was sorry to have to reply so sharply, but I did, saying, “That’s because what you write for them is precisely what Washington wants to hear.” I also said that day that there was no need to worry whether the Japanese people would fight for their homeland. Kishida had arranged so that, henceforth, Japanese people will die in Washington’s wars, I said. Or, to put it more precisely, for Blackrock.

For years I thought that the only thing keeping Japan from regaining independence was its Washington-imposed postwar constitution. Now I, and a growing number of patriots in Japan, argue that the only thing keeping Japan from being sucked into Washington’s global maelstrom is that same piece of paper, the one in which the Japanese people, according to their American masters, forever renounce war. Without that constitution there would be nothing to stop people like Sakurai, and Orita, and the rest of the pro-American regime in Japan, from sending Japan’s sons and daughters to the next globalist slaughter. It is a bitter irony, but, at this point, all that is left between the Washington war machine and yet more innocent Japanese deaths caused by it.

This is the tragedy of global partnership. Japan lost everything to the Americans in 1945. It still does not have independence. It is still Washington’s humiliated protectorate. Now, with the reign of Kishida the Washingtonian, the people of Japan have lost everything again. They have no country of their own, but they might have had, at least, hope for a better tomorrow. No longer. Thanks to Japan’s “global partner” in the prime minister’s office, their future has been mortgaged to Washington and Wall Street. It seems only a matter of time now before Japanese people start to die at Washington’s pleasure again.