Jews in Japan - Accusations of Antisemitism

Accusations of Antisemitism

With only a small and relatively obscure Jewish population, Japan had no traditional antisemitism until the 20th century, when Russian antisemitism and Nazi ideology and propaganda influenced a small number of Japanese. Adolf Hitler argued the Anglo-Japanese Alliance dissolve was due to the Jewish Press.

Antisemitism took mainly the form of a subculture of conspiracy theory which was expressed in the context of a conspiracy to subjugate the world or Japan which is ultimately controlled by Jews. Antisemitic and conspiracist books and pamphlets are sold in major bookstores and themes which may be influenced by stereotypical views of Jews have entered the popular culture and even affect the educated academic community.

Japanese society lacks many of the racist taboos held by the Western world; this is reflected in elements of Japanese popular culture, reflecting stereotypes or other forms of expression regarding the Jewish people, or other peoples, that would be considered outrageous in the West.

In 1918, the Japanese army sent troops to Siberia to aid the White Army against the Bolshevik Red Army. It was at this time that Japanese were first introduced to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic text.

Though deeper research by the Japanese military and government unearthed no evidence of a global Jewish conspiracy, a small number of officials and officers continued to believe in the economic and political power of the Jewish people. In the early 1930s, a plot known as the Fugu Plan was thus hatched, in which this small cadre of "Jewish experts" convinced the government and military to arrange for the re-settlement of thousands of Jews from Europe in the Japanese Empire. The underlying belief behind this plan was that a population of Jews could create amazing economic benefit for Japan, and that the power of Jews in other parts of the world, particularly in the United States, was great enough that the rescue of Jews from the Nazis could benefit US-Japan relations.

In 1936, lieutenant general Shioden Nobutaka (四王天延孝), translated the Protocols into Japanese. Shioden became a believer in a Jewish conspiracy while he was studying in France. According to Dr. David Kranzler, "The key to the distinction between the Japanese and the European form of antisemitism seems to lie in the long Christian tradition of identifying the Jew with the Devil, the Antichrist or someone otherwise beyond redemption ... The Japanese lacked this Christian image of the Jew and brought to their reading of the Protocols a totally different perspective. The Christian tried to solve the problem of the Jew by eliminating him; the Japanese tried to harness his alleged immense wealth and power to Japan's advantage."

As Japan was allied with Nazi Germany in World War II, Nazi ideology and propaganda regarding the Jewish people came to be circulated within Japan as well, contributing to the development of Japan's particular brand of antisemitism. However, while various theories about the Jewish people may have gained a degree of acceptance among the Japanese people as a whole, the Japanese government and military never gave in to Nazi recommendations that extermination programs or the like be undertaken.

By the end of the 20th century, a great many books were published relating to the Jewish conspiracy or the theory that Japanese and Jews have common ancestry. Various theories and explanations for the alleged Jewish control of the world were thus circulated, many involving elements of the occult and intellectual play, and gossip. Occult theories relating to the Jewish people, along with theories connecting the Jews and Japan, play a major role in a number of so-called "New Religions" (Shinshūkyō) in Japan. However, anti-semitic books in Japan are usually regarded as a type of tondemobon (トンデモ本, dodgy/outrageous books, a term which covers a wide range of esoteric subjects taken lightly by the vast majority of the population.

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