Chapter 2 Japan Made a Contribution to the End of Racism in the World
Liberating Asia: The Miracle of Modern Japanese History
World War II brought to light the fundamental disconnect between the East and the West. Distrust, disparate goals, basic philosophic, economic and racial barriers stood in the way of construction bridges to peace.
Colonialism was seen as the right of the West – as the great protectors – and rooted in an elitist politic and misdirected self-interest. While in the East it was seen as the subjugation of the yellow races and the antithesis of freedom by peoples who did not see their futures in outside rule by white politicians and nations thousands of miles away both in theoretical and actual distance.
Western nations did not understand the strength of the desire for equality that was born of both the culture and inherent human drive for freedom rooted in Japanese history. Instead it was seen as imperialism by the West — another symptom of the great divide that led to the conflagration of WWII.
But Japan was, and is, a nation deeply invested in the drive for equality, and as seen in this chapter, made significant contributions to ending racism, not only in deed, but in influence. Read the words of Nelson Mandela and the impact of Japan’s perspective on his thinking and actions.
Also shown in this chapter is the fact that when something is right, it is also timeless. We are all children of God — regardless of religion, we are all children of God. The precept runs through time immemorial and has dictated the values of men and women of goodwill and self-reflection throughout history. Whether it be Shonan Yokoi, who spoke of benevolence and righteousness as values that must be inculcated in the treatment of all people, the Meiji government in Japan that fostered the idea of equality leading to a rare bloodless revolution outlawing discrimination, Nelson Mandela in South Africa who gave his body and soul to the fight against apartheid, Abraham Lincoln in the 1860′s who united a torn United States on the issue of slavery, or Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960′s who gave his life in a pursuit of the abolition of discrimination and brotherhood, the call for equality has resonated throughout time.
Read about Japan’s efforts to turn the tide toward global reconciliation, despite misunderstanding, prejudice, fear and odds that seem incalculable, with the resolute righteousness that keeps this nation seeking the elimination of hatred and confrontation in both Asia and the world.
Below is the second Chapter of Jiro Ayaori’s newly released book titled, “Liberating Asia: The Miracle of Modern Japanese History”.
Japan’s Miracles Inspired Former President Nelson Mandela
In December of 2013, the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, an iconic anti-apartheid leader, ascended to heaven. South Africa apparently does not have close ties with Japan, but in an interview that he gave while he was still alive, Mandela talked about how Japan had affected his life. He said, “We want to build a rainbow nation in South Africa on the model of Japan. The miraculous success of Japan greatly inspired and empowered South Africa.”
It seems that Mandela wasn’t necessarily referring to post-war Japan, which recovered from its wartime devastation to develop into a major economic power. Mandela used to say to his aides, “It is disgraceful that Japan stopped fighting the Greater East Asia War.” In fact, the spirit of Mandela “resurrected” in a public spiritual reading that Master Ryuho Okawa of the Happy Science Group conducted after his death, and left us with some messages (included in “Nelson Mandela’s Last Message). He said:
You drove out European powers from Asia and Africa. Many Japanese did not die in vain from our perspective (abbreviated). If Japan had won WW2, I would have been free from the beginning.
Perhaps it is the modern Japanese citizens that have least understood the true meaning of the last war.
The Leaders of the Late Edo Period and Meiji Era Foresaw the Greater East Asia War
About two years after the outbreak of the war between Japan and the United States, the heads of state from Asian countries came to Japan to take part in the Greater East Asia Conference in November of 1943. In this conference, they declared their goals of freeing Asian countries from the West’s insatiable aggression and exploitation and eliminating racism. Mandela, who was well aware of this historical fact, seemed to have seriously thought, “If only Japan would have advanced all the way to Africa and crushed Apartheid…”
From as early as the late Tokugawa Shogunate, leaders from Japan have actually thought about how to remove Western powers from Asia and Africa.
The spiritual leader of the Choshu Domain, Shoin Yoshida wrote a book titled “Yushu-roku (descriptions in prison)” after he unsuccessfully attempted to travel abroad to America. In the book, he stated that the West and Russia subjected Japan as well as Asian and African nations to invasions, insisting that Japan strengthen its military powers and take control of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
In a letter to one of his disciples, Genzui Kusaka, Shoin also mentioned an additional plan for taking control of India.
If people hold these words only at face value, then they would certainly dismiss them as Japanese imperialist thoughts, but Shoin’s principle aim was to bring down Western colonial rule, which was based on white supremacy.
Shoin was not the only person that made such extreme arguments. The feudal lord of the Satsuma domain, Nariakira Shimazu, also came up with similar strategies. In a letter to his most important aide, Takamori Saigo, he explained his strategies in detail;
“The feudal lords of Kinki and Chugoku region will head to Mainland China, and the other clans in Kyushu will advance to places such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and India. The domains in the northeast will conquer the Maritime Provinces of Siberia, Sakhaline, and Manchuria. The Satsuma domain will capture Taiwan and Canton and Fujian situated on the east coast of China, and impose a blockade on the South China Sea to stop the British and the French forces from advancing eastward.”
Later, the disciples that Shoin and Nariakira educated assumed key posts in the Meiji Government. After all, they did what their “mentors” had taught.
Shonan Yokoi Envisioned the Concept of an Organization to Judge the Western Invasion
A Confucian scholar of the late Tokugawa Shogunate, Shonan Yokoi, imparted an even bigger vision to people such as Shoin, Saigo, Kaishu Katsu, and Ryoma Sakamoto, who had practically become his students:
Japan, Korea, and Qing have to be modernized and fight against Western colonialism in the name of the “righteousness of the East”. If the West forcibly and ruthlessly continues to invade, then we shall resist to the end. If the matter remains unsettled, then we will call an international conference in Kyoto where representatives from both Eastern and Western countries concerned will attend to judge Western aggressive policies based on international law.
Shonan envisaged the creation of a Japan-led international organization that could even transcend the League of Nations and the U.N.
Cultivate virtues taught by Yao, Shun (legendary Chinese leaders) and Confucius, and use the instruments of the West to our advantage. We will not settle for anything less than a prosperous nation, a mighty military, and will spread this righteousness to the four seas.
Shonan’s Chinese poetry was also filled with an enthusiasm to realize world peace with Japan being a first-rate nation that valued the virtue of benevolence and righteousness.
These aspirations lived on from the late Edo period through the Greater East Asia War, and certainly inspired Mandela.
It is said that both patriots and shogunal officials commonly used the term “Hakko Ichiu”, a slogan employed in trying to establish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. As mentioned in Chapter 1, it was originally a term that the first Japanese Emperor Jinmu used in an imperial script for nation-building, which the Chronicle of Japan handed down, and it literally means “I shall cover the eight directions and we are united under one roof (Universal Brotherhood)”. The patriots of the late Edo period often talked about their aspiration to introduce Western civilization and to realize world peace under the initiative of Japan, which in their minds could have become the most powerful nation in the world. Based on Confucian values, Shonan called this aspiration “the justice of the East”.
At the slightest mention of “Hakko Ichiu,” some people equate it with militarism. Yet, a vision of Japan leading the way for the establishment of world peace will become even more necessary in the age to come.
Shoin Yoshida’s Firm Belief in the Idea that “Humans Are Children of God”
You can see how Shoin and other patriots’ visions about the future of Japan differed from the West’s atrocious aggressive policies. The differences resulted from the fact that the Japanese had embraced the idea of equality.
A Japanese author, Ryotaro Shiba, described how Shoin had steered the Choshu domain into a kind of religious hysteria in which his fanatical followers danced around in ecstasy with their guru. In his opinion, Shoin of course was a guru, and Shoin’s revolutionary ideas were close to religious teachings.
Shoin’s thoughts can be summed up as follows;
Under the Japanese Gods and emperors who are the descendants of the gods, we, who are originally equal, must abandon the class system, rise up, and face the threats posed to our nation.
He did not just say these words; he actually put his ideas into action.
Shoin opened the Shokason-juku, a small private school, and allowed people from all walks of life to enter the school. He was not overly concerned if people belonged to lower social classes such as common foot soldiers, farmers, or merchants because he believed that talented people could emerge from all social classes. He called his disciples “friends”, and treated them all equally..
Based on Mencius’s idea that humans are born good, Shoin firmly believed that humans were essentially good. He taught, “Even if we differ from one another in our natural abilities, we can all become saints if we make all-out efforts.” Shoin cultivated human resources that were expected to lead in a new era by discovering the good points in others and bringing them out.
Shoin also treated women without distinction and did not have a xenophobic view. Shinsaku Takasugi, the founder of the Kihei-tai or irregular militia, inherited Shoin’s revolutionary thoughts. He allowed people from discriminated classes to join the militia, which was obviously due to the influence of Shoin. The Meiji government abolished the hierarchy with the samurai at the top, followed by farmers, artisans, and merchants, and realized an “equality of all people”. Then, it tried to spread the concept throughout Asia, an idea that had also originated from Shoin.
Indeed, Shonan Yokoi, who advocated the idea of spreading righteousness beyond the seas, said as follows:
People from different countries are children of God just as the Japanese are. Therefore, when we treat foreigners, we must approach them with benevolence and righteousness, values that run through both this world and heaven.
Both Shoin and Shonan, who drew up the grand designs of Japan in the Meiji period and later, believed in the idea that people are all children of God.
Due to this philosophy prevailing among the Japanese leaders at the time, the Meiji Restoration was a bloodless revolution, which was unlike the French and Russian revolutions where many people were purged. Some leaders of the former Tokugawa Shogunate side, who had insisted on all-out resistance, were executed, but the vassals of the former Shogunate and the members of the former Satsuma and Choshu domains generally worked together in the new government. In this sense, Japan achieved an incredibly rare revolution in world history.
Mandela Aimed for Reconciliation Between Blacks and Whites Based on the Idea that Humans Are All Children of God
Mandela, who fought in the anti-apartheid movement, also believed in the Christian notion of “Humans are all children of God”.
Even with more and more people in South Africa accumulating hatred against whites and calling for black domination of the country, Mandela struggled to create a society where both whites and blacks worked together in harmony. Upon taking the office of the presidency, Mandela established an investigative committee that shed light on human rights abuses, and revealed the reality of the oppression under the policy of Apartheid. Yet, when those who had committed human rights abuses made confessions, no matter how serious those abuses were, they were not charged.
What was behind his leniency was his strong faith in the idea that people are all God’s children. It was the exact opposite of the wrong values that some Christian churches had espoused, based on which Christians believed that black people didn’t possess souls and that they were the same as monkeys, and discriminated against them.
Several hours after his death, the spirit of Mandela visited Master Rhuho Okawa, and talked about why no grounds exist for racism.
The soul has no color; it’s transparent. The soul is the energy of thought and the active energy of creation. This acceptance is the real point of religion. This is the real point of equality and freedom.
Because Mandela was aware of this religious truth while he was still alive, he was able to become a great fighter for freedom.
Lincoln Called His Fellow Americans to Forgive Each Other
Looking back on history, people who fought against racism shared the same belief, as did President Lincoln who achieved the emancipation of the slaves after the Civil War, a devastating war that killed the largest number of people in American history.
The American Declaration of Independence, issued in 1776, clearly stated the following:
All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
However, the “men” here did not include the blacks, the Native Americans, or even women among the whites.
Lincoln attempted to expand the principle of equality to include the black slaves, leading to a war that divided the nation in two. During the war, it was his faith that “people are all children of God” that supported Lincoln who agonized over whether he was right in starting the war. Lincoln appealed to the people, saying:
I firmly believe that black people have been endowed with the same rights as white people. They are all equal in that they have the right to get bread according to their efforts.
After the war ended, radicals from the victorious Northern states demanded the execution of the leaders of the Confederacy, but Lincoln rejected their demands, saying:
God said, ‘Let us judge not, that we be not judged.’ We’re all brothers, fellow human beings, so we must forgive each other.
We should rejoice in the southern states’ coming back to us as if our siblings came back home. We must help them and not accuse them.
Lincoln’s generosity opened the minds of the people in the Southern states and brought the country together again.
Reverend King Called White People His Brothers
However, even after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, discrimination against Afro-Americans still continued for another hundred years. In the 1950s, Reverend King and other activists stood up and called for the abolition of discrimination against Afro-Americans on public transportation and in public places like schools and restaurants.
Rev. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
From every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black and white men…will be able to join hands, and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!
Rev. King also called on people not to resort to violence with the growing hatred and hostilities. He taught black people that white people were brothers even though they did commit many terrible acts of discrimination, violence, and humiliation against people of color.
In response to King’s call, former President Kennedy said, “I, too, have a dream,” and he proposed legislation that prohibited discrimination against Afro-Americans.
In Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the bloodless revolution that occurred in Japan in the Meiji era, the Greater East Asia War that ended Western racism, Rev. King’s civil-rights movement, and Mandela’s effort to abolish Apartheid – an idea that people are all children of God and a principle of forgiveness was present. With this spirit, the two conflicting sides, the whites and the colored people, learned to reconcile, which opened up paths for co-existence, cooperation, and collaboration.
Considering the fact that in post-war Japan, people did not hold grudges against the U.S. forces that had massacred the Japanese civilians in their air raids and with their atomic bombs, and have established friendly relations with the U.S., the “principle of forgiveness” surely must have been at work.
The Path to Eliminating Hatred, Confrontation, and Discrimination from the World
Looking at the world, we see discrimination and conflicts all over, and hatred is brooding. China has been harshly suppressing its ethnic minorities and religious leaders, and resistance movements there have been intensifying.
Conflict between the Christian countries and Islamic forces will perhaps continue into the coming decades in the form of wars against terrorist groups.
As seen from the heroic actions of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, calling attention to equal opportunity in women’s education at the risk of her own life, Islamic countries still suppressthe human rights of hundreds of millions of women.
As a common philosophy for humanity, the modern-day idea that “people are all children of God or Buddha” combined with the principle of forgiveness has never been formally sought.
Japan, China, and Korea have been clashing head-on over the historical issues. Korea’s President Park Geun-hye made a controversial speech in which she said, “The historical standings of (Japan) being aggressor and (Korea) being victim will not change even after the passage of a thousand years.”
With no signs of improvement in the trilateral relations, Master Okawa of the Happy Science Group held a lecture titled “The Challenge of Wisdom” (included in The Laws of Wisdom) in December of 2013 and preached as follows:
If there are people who continue resenting the Japanese people for another thousand years, so be it. We shall forgive them for two thousand years. If there are countries that claim Japan has done awful things to them for the past few hundred years, we shall continue to bring happiness to such countries for thousands of years.
Happy Science has been trying to spread the teaching that humans are all children of God or Buddha to China, which currently embraces materialism, and has been attempting to save the people who are suffering under its tyranny.
Master Okawa has revealed the will of the Heavenly Father, and has taught both Christians and Muslims which doctrines to keep and which to abandon in the age to come in an effort to root out religious conflict and war around the world. In his lecture “The Challenge of Wisdom”, Master Okawa clearly stated:
Hatred is born in this world because of differences in religion, for instance between Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and other philosophies and creeds. The mission of El Cantare is to eradicate such hatred. (See note below)
Presidents Lincoln and Mandela, along with Rev. King, fostered a spirit of mutual understanding and harmony at the national level, and we are now cultivating that spirit on a global scale. When this happens, Japan will be able to establish world peace as a first-rate country in the world with the benevolence and righteousness that Shoin and Shonan once envisioned. Then we can truly reach the “real point of equality and freedom”.