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English>>Foreign Affairs

Fearing others' rise offers quick path to eventual doom

By Ding Gang (Global Times)

08:21, August 09, 2012

(Global Times/ Sun Ying)

In 1941, then Japanese emperor Hirohito, like his military advisors, believed that Japan could win a single "decisive battle" against the US and then engage in negotiations that would leave it in an advantageous position.

It's not Japanese tradition to directly confront with a powerful opponent and risk humiliating failure.

And back then, only ultra-nationalist fanatics believe Japan could completely defeat the US.

However at that time, the majority of Japanese believed that confrontation with the US was inevitable.

Most thought Japan could win a single decisive battle and then break even or gain from the war, just as it had done following the naval clash at Tsushima during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).

When we talk about Japan's "insanity" before World War II, we often concentrate on the aggressive and authoritarian nature of Japanese militarism.

But in some ways Japan was also "forced" to declare war against the US, though it cornered itself through its own aggression.

The Japanese leadership was fatalistically convinced a clash was sure to come with a US it believed was inexorably opposed to Japan's rise.

The Japanese saw this as the first step to an inevitable war and believed that if they didn't strike first, the US would take the initiative. This thinking ultimately doomed the Japanese empire.

Now history is pushing Japan to another critical point. The question of national direction has seriously worried some Japanese elites since the disastrous earthquake in March 2011.

There is a popular view that currently what Japan needs most is a new spirit of striving to make the country stronger, otherwise their national decline will be inevitable.

Several important elements aggravate such a sense of crisis. First, the third generation in the post-war era has already grown up under the penetration of Western culture. They are not as good as the two post-war generations at either enduring hardship or working collectively.
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