On a scale of cruelty in the Second World War and second only to the German killing of European Jews, the Japanese treatment of Chinese during its invasion of China (the Nanking Massacre), and also of Allied prisoners-of-war, took top spot.
Since then, Germans have apologised and, to make amends, were the chief movers in the formation of European Union after the war which, at the time, was thought to permanently prevent national friction in Europe in future years, particularly between them and their arch-enemies, the French. As it happens, with Angela Merkel and Francoise Hollande at each other’s throats now (and which will undoubtedly worsen in the coming years as France becomes more Greece-like), this has turned out to be naive, but never mind, the Germans tried.
Not so, the Japanese. There hasn’t been a cheep of sorrow from Japanese leaders — either to China or to Allied soldiers. If anything, the present Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has been more intransigent than any before him.
Not so, many Japanese citizens, usually those who were soldiers in the war. Many reconciliatory meetings have been held between them and British and American old soldiers where they’ve all said the same thing — that underneath, Japanese are really very similar to their ex-combatants. And so they are — genetically. But not epigenetically — the subtley different ways in which their genes are controlled according to their respective tradtiions and cultures. Until Japanese start inter-breeding with other races in large numbers — and epigenes thus exchanged and shared — then the Japanese on the whole will always be different from the Americans and the British (as also will the Germans be from the French).
There’ll always be tensions between different cultures. This is the result of the deep In Group/Out Group instinct of man. The only way that individuals of different cultures enjoy the company of people in other cultures is if they trade together — say as tourists or more formally between businesses — or when new ad hoc temporary groupings take place befween them. In my early factory years I noticed how well Brits and Irish and Caribbeans worked together in gangs during the day, but never, or very seldom, socialised together in the evenings. Then, too, in ‘multicultural’ London, the very rich of one culture will often meet with the very rich of another culture at important functions because they temporarily conceive themselves to belong to the same rich group as opposed to ordinary Londoners.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that mixed cultures are now to be found on the boards of major multinational corporations, particularly those that were founded in the West and have been the longest in the field, much less so — so far — in Japanese and Chinese businesses — but they will follow, too, as world trade becomes even more internationalised. One major Japanese corporation, Mitsubishi (10 Japanese, 1 Philippino Directors) has gone a little way.
However, Mitsubishi, has become the first Japanese business to make an apology. During the war. Mitsubishi ’employed’ many thousands of prisoners of war in copper mining, shipyards, factories, infrastructure projects, all treated badly, half-starved, Red Cross parcels were stolen, with high death rates from tuberculosis, malnutrition and so on. Mitsubishi have done so at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Loa Angeles, senior officials expressing their remorse to the few remaining prisoner of war.
This is yet another symptom of a broader point I want to make in this blog — that major corporations are now beginning to show more sensitivity about their relationships with ordinary people than governments. More than that, they are actually beginning to confront governments in ways that would not have been imaginable as recently as 20 or 30 year ago when governments were the undisputed power-holders. Large businesses are not anyway near as taxable as they used to be, for example.
And, in some respects, large corporations are actually confronting governments and defying them even on matters which are dearest to the hearts of government politicians — defence. For example, when the US National Security Agency instructed Google, Apple and other intel firms to supply private details of suspected terrorists it was not only turned down but made impossble. The latest smart phones are encrypted so deeply that not even their manufacturers can decode the communications going on between them. The large firms had to do so because if they hadn’t they would then lose the business of other larger multinationals which insist of total secrecy for their data tranmissions.
Small businesses would spring up offering encrypting services to, say, banks and would bury themselves so deeply in the Internet that it would take governments a year and a day to find out exactly who they were. If Google and Co hadn’t already done the heavy lifting against governments, then there would be no limit of the extent to which all advanced governments would go in knowing, ultimately, every private detail of every citizen. Large intel firms ae also permanently deleting emails after a certain number of years so that governments will never be able to read them.
Becajuse they’re incfreasingly not culture bound, multinationals are not essentially interested in the primary reason for existence of governments — territorial defence. Weapons are now so potentially terrible that physical warfare between large nation-states is now fruled out. Governments of the nation-state variety have, in fact, lost their most important role. If they want to extend their existence — which they will certainly want to do — they’d be better confining to start concentrating on changing their culture. The most important parts of this are education and health. The higher the educational standard lof their citizens and the healthier they are, the more inclined will major corporations be in setting up operations in those countries for the sake of both fast-track recruitment and for high-value customers.
Nation-state governments will continue their warfare against one another, not by physical methods but by comptitive taxation methods and, at the same time, losing their previously essential ability of self-defence. So nation-states will have to change to another form of governance, whatever that may turn out to be. At the same time, running at right-angles to this spectrum is another power-play between multinational, increasingly cross-cultural corporations and nation-state governments. So it’s very complex — but taking place anyway for those with the eyes to see.