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  • Translator's Afterword
  • Annmaria Simabuku (bio)

I. Before

Kōya Nomura, the opening chapter of whose maiden work Muishiki no Shokuminchishugi—Nihonjin no Beigunkichi to Okinawajin (Unconscious Colonialism: The Japanese People's U.S. Military Bases and the Okinawans) is presented here, was born in 1964 in one of the largest U.S. military outposts of East Asia: Koza (currently Okinawa City), Okinawa. He grew up in the midst of the Vietnam War, minutes away from the famous "hub of air-power in the Pacific"—Kadena Air Base—where he saw B-52 bombers routinely depart and return from destruction in Southeast Asia. Eight years after his birth, in 1972, when the Vietnam War began to draw to a close, for the first time in his life he became a full-fledged "national of Japan."

When Nomura left the island for schooling in Japan, he lived as a minority surrounded by Japanese and, more shockingly yet, no U.S. military bases. As a graduate student at Sophia University, he served as chairperson of the Okinawan Youth Group in Tokyo from 1992 to 1994, where he came into [End Page 117] contact with numerous Okinawans who were driven out of an economically depressed Okinawa to enter the Japanese work force as laborers. Today, he is a full professor of Sociology at Hiroshima Shūdō University.

"Undying Colonialism" is the opening and foundational chapter of his maiden work. Upon its debut, the book immediately instigated heated controversy, purportedly because of its frank, fiery, and polemical tone. A more sober reader, however, will find a pedagogical design to the text that seeks to make an intricate academic argument accessible to the general public. An academically disciplined reader will further discover an original contribution to the postcolonial and sociological theories that lie beneath the surface of the text.

The central idea behind the chapter is suggested by the book's title—colonialism is the unconscious. Although Nomura copiously quotes from postcolonial authors Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, and Malcolm X, he suppresses the identity of the European sociologist who also informs this analysis—Max Weber. Specifically, the "ethic of conviction" (Gesinnungsethik) and "ethic of responsibility" (Verantwortungsethik) are taken directly from Weber's 1918 speech "Politics as a Vocation" (1958, 75-128). The former refers to conduct inspired by the pure intention to implement an ideal, principle, or conviction without regard for consequence. The latter, by contrast, refers to the ability to account responsibly for the consequences of one's actions regardless of one's intention. According to Weber, the rise of modernity is marked by an "ethic of conviction" that facilitates a transferal of guilt and deflection of responsibility associated with violence to the state. For example, a soldier need not feel guilty for another's death if responsibility for the execution can be displaced onto the state.

Nomura uses Weber to develop his concept of "democratic colonialism" in postwar Japan. Significantly, he is less concerned with conservative Japanese nationalists than he is with so-called progressive Japanese, who assume their disavowal of the former is an adequate basis for "alliance" with Okinawa. Understandably, this may be perplexing to some readers because Japanese who oppose U.S. military bases appear to be the lesser of two evils when compared to Japanese who unabashedly support militarism. However, Nomura's insistence that both are "guilty of the same crime" cuts to the heart of an understanding of colonialism in the Japanese state. [End Page 118]

If colonialism, in this sense, is the displacement of responsibility to another entity so as to absolve oneself of personal guilt, then progressive Japanese unwittingly cement this operation even while they claim to detest the violent consequences of colonialism. In other words, Nomura points out that, by shifting blame to the United States, the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, or the conservative political party in power, progressive Japanese not only overlook how they nonetheless inherit the benefits of colonialism, but worse, they set into motion the very operation of colonialism that is predicated on the purity of personal intent without regard to ultimate "responsibility for consequence" (Weber 1958, 126). This operation works even within the state of Japan, where the democratic process...


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pp. 117-130
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