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Another View of Japan

[ The New York Times : January 16, 1938 ]

Another View of Japan
Exception Is Taken to Statements In Dr. Brown's Letter

TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
I venture to disagree with some of the things which Dr. Arthur J. Brown says in his letter to THE TIMES.
I cannot agree with the statement that press reports of the Far Eastern disturbance have been fair. When the Japanese Army is accused, in general terms, of all sorts of atrocities at Nanking, specifically including the dragging of women from refugee camps, and when, a few days later, well-supported circumstantial reports appeared showing that such acts were committed by Chinese, including officers of as high rank that of colonel, it means that the original statement has, for many readers, including, apparently, Dr. Brown, gone uncorrected.

No Dictator
It seems misleading to suggest, in terms allusive to European conditions, that the government of Japan is a military dictatorship. The distribution of power in the Japanese Government has its roots in so long a history and one so different from that of Europe that I cannot expatiate upon it here; but there can be no dictatorship without a dictator, and there is no dictator in Japan. The Navy and Army Ministers have direct access to the throne; so has the civilian Ministry; and the head of the whole Ministry is always accounted a civilian. It is, further, a mistake to suppose that the Navy and Army Ministers always act in concert.
"What degree of control he [the Emperor] really exercises," says Dr. Brown, "few men in Japan and no one outside of it know." This is true in the sense that, as the exercise of the Emperor's prerogatives is optional, it cannot be predicted. But that his power can be very great is shown by the way in which it was exercised during the Meiji reign (1868-1912), and was suggested by the way in which the disorders of February, 1936, were terminated.

Close to War
Again, I disagree with the statement that "the people of Japan have no means of intelligently judging," etc. The censorship of the press in Japan is by no means "rigid." Such utterances as those of President Roosevelt at Chicago and of Secretary Hull at various times have been printed in full in Japan.
Furthermore, the Japanese have the advantage, which most people here have not, of having always lived close to the arena of conflict and of being well acquainted with its history. It is probably an understatement to say that nine-tenths of the people hereabouts who are now expressing opinions knew little or nothing about the situation before the breaking out of hostilities and headlines. Dr. Brown does not come within that category and will probably agree with the statement.
I do not think that the Japanese people, as a whole or in large part, desire any further subordination of the armed forces to any one below the throne. In conceivable circumstances they might like to see civilian influences work up through the throne and back to the forces. This does not indicate a servile subjugation. The Japanese, though a docile and homogenous, are an exceedingly high-spirited people, and no government which fails to take this into account can hope to succeed.
(Rev.) JOHN COLE MCKIM.
Date: 2015.02.10
Category: Comparison of the descriptions
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