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Book Reviews 141 Jews in the Japanese Mind: The History and Uses of a Cultural Stereotype, by David G. Goodman and Masanori Miyazawa. New York: The Free Press, 1995. 360 pp. $24.95. Since the mid-1980sJapan has produced a large number ofantisemitic books, such as The jewish Plot to Control the World, The Expert Way of Reading the jewish Protocols, and The Secret ofjewish Power that Moves the World. These books, along with reasoned and balanced books on Jews and Jewish culture, have been wildly popular, filling "Jewish corners" in bookstores. Two such books, both by Uno Masami, together sold more than a million copies in their first six months. jews in the japanese Mind, by David Goodman and Masanori Miyazawa, points out that many ofthe works, including Uno's, draw on the Protocols ofthe Elders ofZion, written by the Russian secret police as part of the anti-Dreyfus campaign in France and first published in Japanese in 1924. The Protocols purports that a Jewish conspiracy fosters liberalism, democracy, atheism, and licentiousness in order to undermine Gentile society and creates Jewish monopolies in order to gain economic control. Although The Protocols has been exposed as a fabrication, it is parroted and expanded on by Japanese antisemites who argue that Jews dominate world capitalism and are plotting to destroy Japan. Not only do antisemitic arguments command large followings, they have been uncritically accepted by the mainstream media and politicians as reasonable explanations of Japan's problems. The dominant liberal Democratic Party invited Uno to speak at a Constitution Day Rally, and the Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan's largest circulation newspaper, has quoted him approvingly. In 1993 the Nihon keizei shinbun, Japan's equivalent of the Wall Streetjournal, ran a one-third-page ad for Getjapan, the Last Enemy: Thejewish Protocolsfor World Domination, written under the pseudonym ofJacob Morgan. The ad outlined a Jewish plot to conquer Japan in some detail, arguing for example that hidden "Jewish" symbols on Japanese fivethousand yen notes mock the imperial family. The newspaper defended its publishing the ad unapologetically and other major newspapers have run similar ads. It is puzzling that Japan, which has limited experience with Western religion and only a thousand or soJewish residents, should be so obsessed with Jews. Goodman and Miyazawa offer a convincing and well documented explanation. They argue that Japanese scapegoating, as well as an often expressed admiration for Jews, is an outgrowth of insecurities caused by economic modernization and competition with the West. Japan has a long history of beliefs that foreign religions seek to undermine Japan. In the 142 SHOFAR Summer 1996 Vol. 14, No.4 nineteenth century TokugawaJapan developed an anti-Christian thesis that Japan was threatened by an occult religious conspiracy to undermineJapan spiritually and conquer it along with the rest of the world, partly through trade and finance. Early negative Japanese views ofJews were shaped in part by intense exposure to The Merchant of Venice, by far the most widely performed play by Shakespeare. It appealed to the Japanese anxiety about its own· new commercial culture and about Japanese ethnic identity, under attack from racist treatment by Western nations. The earlier anti-Christian conspiracy theory was transferred onto the Jews as a result of the introduction of The Protocols of the Elders ofZion to Japan in the 1920s. Much of the development ofJapanese antisemitic arguments from The Protocols was done by various Japanese Christians, among them Higuchi Tsuyanaosuke, a graduate of the Russian Orthodox Nikolai Seminary in Tokyo, and Sakai Katsuisa and Nakada Jiiji, who studied at the Moody Bible Institute in the United States. Many recent Japanese antisemitic works have also been written byJapanese Christians. Goodman and Miyazawa note that, despite the popularity of antisemitic arguments in the 1930s, the Japanese media were initially critical of the Nazis' persecution of Jews, and the Japanese government consistently resisted German pressure to persecute Jews under its jurisdiction. The 25,000 Jewish refugees sheltered in Japanese-occupied Shanghai outnumbered theJewish refugees accepted by all ofthe British overseas dominions and India combined. . Why the resurgence of antisemitism in the 1980s and 1990s?Jews in the Japanese Mind argues that it is "based in part on the denial of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 141-143
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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