Japan from the inside out

Hatoyama Yukio, Yuai, and the fraternal revolution

Posted by ampontan on Friday, May 29, 2009

The chaos of modern politics will only…find its end when a spiritual aristocracy seizes the means of power of society: (gun)powder, gold, ink, and uses them for the blessing of the general public.
– Practical Idealism, Count Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi

ON A COLD DAY in Tokyo in 1891, 17-year-old Aoyama Mitsuko rushed to help Count Heinrich von Coudenhove-Kalergi, an Austrian diplomat whose horse had slipped and fallen on the ice. Her father was an antique dealer and oil merchant descended from a samurai family, and the Count was a frequent visitor to the antique shop because the Austrian legation was nearby.

Count Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi

Count Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi

As so often happens, one thing led to another, and the diplomat married Mitsuko over her parents’ objections after he had first succeeded in getting her a job as a parlor maid in the Austrian embassy. They had two sons, the second of whom was Count Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi, born in Tokyo in 1894. Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi became a prominent political thinker and activist who founded the Pan-Europa movement in 1923, which is widely recognized as the forerunner of the EU.

The primary objectives of the oldest European federalist organization were to create a free and united Europe with a joint foreign policy and currency and a focus on the family and strong property rights. The Count wanted to create an ethnically diverse European nation with a common culture. A polyglot, he expected that the language of common use throughout the European nation would be English, while everyone would use their native language in their home regions. He said that such a nation would be “the only way of guarding against an eventual world hegemony by Russia”.

In the book Theories of European Integration, Ben Rosamond wrote that Coudenhove-Kalergi wanted to create a conservative society that superceded democracy with “the social aristocracy of the spirit”. Others have described him as a social democrat with aristocratic tendencies, and the Count himself said that he favored government by “the best and the brightest”. He sought to reconcile the conflict between capitalism and communism through cross-fertilization rather than the victory of one over the other. He also thought the world should be divided into five blocs, with Japan and China controlling the Far East.

Meanwhile, back in Japan…

Sometime during the period from 1946 to 1951 in the upscale mountain resort of Karuizawa, Nagano, Hatoyama Ichiro happened to read one of Coudenhove-Kalergi’s many books, The Totalitarian State against Man. Hatoyama was a politician who entered the Diet in 1915 and later served as chief cabinet secretary and education minister before the war.

He was elected again to the Imperial Diet in 1942 despite being an “unofficial candidate”, but he was expelled to Karuizawa for his opposition to the Imperial Rule Assistance Association and the policies of Tojo Hideki. He returned to Tokyo after the war and formed the Liberal Party, which became the largest party in the postwar Diet. Just as he was to be named prime minister, the GHQ barred him from holding public office on the charge of cooperating with militarism, and he returned to Karuizawa for a second period of exile.

When reading The Totalitarian State against Man, Hatoyama was so moved by Coudenhove-Kalergi’s idea of a “fraternal revolution” that he translated the book into Japanese. He chose the Japanese term yuai kakumei for fraternal revolution. Yuai is also used in the translation of the slogan of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Coudenhove-Kalergi himself believed in this ideal, but thought the French achieved only the first of the three.

Hatoyama was captivated by the European’s insistence that following a fraternal revolution, the world would transcend the limits of race, religion, ethnicity, state, and language to usher in a true age of coexistence among people, and between people and nature.

Despite suffering a stroke in 1951 just before his banishment order was lifted, Hatoyama stayed active in politics. He became prime minister at last when he succeeded Yoshida Shigeru in December 1954, and he served to December 1956. Personal and philosophical differences with Yoshida had caused him to leave the Liberal Party and form the Democratic Party. These and other conservative groups formed the Liberal Democratic Party in November 1955, and it has been the governing party of Japan continuously since then with the exception of an 11-month period in the mid-1990s.

L-R: Grandpa Yoshida and Grandpa Hatoyama

L-R: Grandpa Yoshida and Grandpa Hatoyama

In addition to his political work, Hatoyama formed the Yuai Youth Association in 1953 and served as its first president. The group’s objective was to inculcate in young people the yuai spirit and thus contribute to the rebuilding of Japan during the postwar period. The association still exists and remains active today.

The word yuai is not commonly used in everyday life, and its presence in Japanese politics faded after Hatoyama Ichiro’s death. The term was briefly revived with the formation of the small New Fraternity Party in 1998, which consisted primarily of Diet members with social democrat tendencies. The party was a temporary receptacle that lasted only from January to April that year, when it merged with the newly created Democratic Party of Japan. One NFP member, Naoshima Masayuki, is still a senior executive with the DPJ.

The keeper of the flame

Ichiro’s grandson Hatoyama Yukio was chosen as the DPJ president earlier this month. Mr. Hatoyama is also a champion of the concept of yuai. He is on record as stating that he wants to change the name of the party he helped found to the Yuai Minshuto—perhaps the Fraternal Democratic Party of Japan—and create a yuai shakai, or fraternal society.

His intense focus on that goal and the nature of the goal itself has subjected Mr. Hatoyama to heavy criticism, and his devotion to the cause exasperates even his allies. One of his political associates recently told the weekly Shukan Bunshun that he interviewed Mr. Hatoyama 10 years ago with the idea of writing a book to further the latter’s political career. The associate said that over the course of 30 hours of interviews, Mr. Hatoyama did not express a single idea about policy, but kept returning to the idea of yuai instead.

Last year, he and his brother, LDP member and Cabinet minister Hatoyama Kunio, established the Yuai Juku, an institute to “develop prominent men and women to create a society, nation, and world whose keynote is the concept of yuai”. Their older sister, Inoue Kazuko, serves as the institute’s director. The first class of 20 students began the year-long course in April 2008 and paid an affordable 130,000 yen (about $US 1,350) to attend classes at the former Hatoyama mansion from 6:10 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The criticism

Not everyone thinks yuai has a place in Japanese politics today. Television commentators, particularly the brash types who consider themselves entertainers first, and who come from a different social milieu than either the Count or Mr. Hatoyama, have derided the new DPJ president’s philosophy as being beyond the average person’s understanding. One—who didn’t do his homework—even claimed that it was entirely unrelated to politics. Journalist and political commentator Ito Atsuo, who is sympathetic to the DPJ and promoted in print Mr. Hatoyama’s opponent Okada Katsuya in the party’s recent presidential election, said it cannot be practically applied to policy.

L-R: Grandsons Taro and Yukio

L-R: Grandsons Taro and Yukio

Of course the political opposition knows an opening when they spot one. Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has recently raised his public profile after spending almost two years in a self-imposed exile of his own, recovering from medical problems and the strain of office after resigning his position in August 2007. Before becoming prime minister, Mr. Abe published a book in 2005 called Toward a Beautiful Country that presented his policy positions to the general public. He used the “Beautiful Country” phrase as his political slogan during his term of office.

Mr. Abe’s slogan was also mercilessly ridiculed by the opposition, particularly the DPJ and the Social Democrats (formerly the Socialists). SDP President Fukushima Mizuho said she didn’t know what the phrase “beautiful country” was supposed to mean.

The former prime minister has hurled some slings and arrows of his own at Mr. Hatoyama and his pet cause. Perhaps he did it for a taste of revenge, or perhaps he would have used it in any event as a weapon against the leader across the aisle. But at the Hatoyama press conference following his election as DPJ chief, a reporter brought up Mr. Abe’s criticism:

“The other day, former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said, ‘Yuai diplomacy will absolutely not pass muster with North Korea.’ Will you apply Yuai diplomacy to North Korea?”

Said Mr. Hatoyama:

“Well then, former Prime Minister Abe may have rejected Yuai diplomacy, but it might be that he doesn’t understand Yuai diplomacy. Yuai diplomacy is by no means an insubstantial thing. It is how countries with different value systems can achieve the position of recognizing the existence of each other in this world. I think that is a very important, significant concept.

“Of course, for countries of the type that no one knows what they’re going to do, such as North Korea…he might simply be envisioning something like a sunshine strategy, as in the story of the north wind and the sun, but it might not be possible to have North Korea remove its cape with the sunshine idea alone. It might be necessary to combine a strategy of both, with the north wind, but I…that’s why we must leave behind the type of diplomacy in which countries with different value systems don’t recognize each other…I suspect we’ve reached an extremely important phase. That’s what I think, and I think it is necessary for the government to delve more into Yuai diplomacy in the future.

Mr. Hatoyama and Prime Minister Aso Taro squared off in a debate of the party leaders in the Diet on 27th. Some were astonished when the former brought up the subject on his own:

Hatoyama Yukio’s question:

“I…just the other day, during the DPJ presidential election…(to hecklers) please be quiet…what I said…I said that I wanted to build a Yuai society. I’ve heard many people criticize this. But, this is an extremely…this in one sense is an old idea, but also a new idea, that’s what I think. What I think this country lacks today, is that the ties in society have been shredded, and all of us as individuals don’t have a place of our own. I think this is a very grave situation. I used the word love, but I want to build a society in which every person can discover their place with ties (to society), in which everyone feels that they are useful, and in which everyone feels happy. In a word, I want to create a world in which people can think that another person’s happiness is their happiness. That’s what I think, but at any rate, politics in Japan today is not like that at all. When people are envious of another person’s happiness, when they are happy to see someone unhappy, this sort of a world, in the end, ruins politics, and doesn’t it also ruin society? Why has such a state arisen? I want to ask the prime minister what he thinks.”

Aso Taro’s answer:

“Well…the spirit of Yuai, that was a word used when Hatoyama Ichiro was prime minister in 1955. I was about in the third year of junior high school, and that’s a word I remember, so, that word is used with great esteem…and I have absolutely no objection to feelings of affection (joai) for other people.”

Are Hatoyama and Yuai the answer?

Abe Shinzo’s grandfather was Kishi Nobusuke, Aso Taro’s grandfather was Yoshida Shigeru, and Hatoyama Yukio’s grandfather was Hatoyama Ichiro. Five of those six men have served as prime ministers of Japan, and the sixth might reach that position before the year is out. If he does, both the older trio and the younger trio will have held that office within fewer than three years of one another. The more things change…

The Yuai concept includes an admirable set of personal ideals that, like all such philosophies, are unachievable in this world. (It also includes a dangerous elitism.) But reality, as the former Marxist Thomas Sowell is fond of noting, is not optional. If these ideals were achievable, we wouldn’t need the political process to begin with. Such a world cannot be created from the top down or the outside in. If it is capable of achievement, it requires a conscious effort by each individual on a personal level from the inside out, and most people have neither the time nor the inclination to bother.

Doubtless Hatoyama Yukio is motivated by sincerity and good intentions, and one cannot help but respect what seems to be his lifelong commitment. But none of us can say for certain why he really got into politics in the first place: a sense of ambition as ruthless as that of the next hack, a sense of idealistic public service, or to enter the family business. It’s also regrettable that he has chosen to ally himself and his party with some unpleasant people. And it’s not out of the question that those same people are using him as a vehicle while viewing him as a sap behind his back for what they consider to be his loopy ideas.

But Mr. Hatoyama is an adult responsible for his own actions, and we all understand that people do not pursue and maintain a career in politics unless they are willing to barter their soul, either piecemeal or in a single lot.

In fact, maybe it’s time for the new DPJ president to do some rereading. He could start with this sentence from the Yuai Youth Association website:

Unless the ideal will widely spread over the years to come, politicians will not stop doing such foolish acts as breaking commitments or making election pledges to do what they really are not going to do at all.

Breaking commitments? This is the man who was going to resign from his senior party position together with Ozawa Ichiro, but then chose to run for party president instead.

As for election pledges, Mr. Hatoyama should take another look at his party’s election platform and eliminate the ones that “he’s not going to do at all.” He could then consider the blatant contradition of promises to cut the bureaucracy and promote regionalism, while at the same time proposing massive spending increases that will only enlarge and enhance both the bureaucracy and the central government. Then he could explain how the DPJ’s alliance with the People’s New Party and promise to halt postal privatization will downsize the bureaucracy.


Enough of this strawberry alarm clock incense and peppermints crap. Let’s get funky!

Now you know why Nakasone Yasuhiro referred to Hatoyama Yukio as being like melted ice cream, and why other people call him the man from outer space.

Ozawa Ichiro has finally arranged/blundered into the situation that suits him best, and now he has another semi-aristocratic squish to act as his front man while he wields a tire iron in the alley. Isn’t that a tasty dish to set before the people?

The Shukan Bunshun reports that Mr. Hatoyama was feeling a bit giddy during an impromptu press conference outside his office after winning the DPJ presidency. He started talking about himself without any prompting, and said, “The Hatoyama color (i.e., his defining traits and beliefs) is the power of love!” Then he began speculating about his real hue on the spectrum. He thought that gold was probably an exaggeration and over the top at this point, so he settled on deep crimson.

Prime Minister Aso said that this week’s debate would determine which of the two men would be more suitable as prime minister.

Reading the words of both men, one seems like a teenaged girl, while the other seems like her indulgent uncle.

It’s not hard to figure out which one is which.

P.S: Some people think the Guerlain perfume Mitsuko (originally Mitsouko) is named after Aoyama Mitsuko. It was created in 1919 and has been continuously available since then.

4 Responses to “Hatoyama Yukio, Yuai, and the fraternal revolution”

  1. Matt said

    I’m not sure about Yukio Hatoyama, but Count Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi sounds very very intriguing. I’ve ordered his book The Totalitarian State against Man. Fascinating.

  2. Georgie Pye said

    “Ozawa Ichiro has finally arranged/blundered into the situation that suits him best, and now he has another semi-aristocratic squish to act as his front man while he wields a tire iron in the alley. Isn’t that a tasty dish to set before the people?”

    So I guess Hatoyama’s Yuai fantasy doesn’t really matter then.

  3. melmo said

    In the name of love, while Hatoyama is calling for “sacrifice,” Aso is suggesting charity (nasake). Aso was pretty good in this debate.

    Well, it’s gross to imagine a middle-aged man disguised as a damsel. I do not think Hatoyama is that innocent, just an idiot.

  4. […] more about Hatoyama’s “Yu-ai” philosophy here and […]

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