Some audience members came up to me after a speech I gave in downtown Tokyo in late April. They were hopping mad at Rahm Emanuel, the man whom Washington sent a little over a year ago to do its business in Japan. And what does that business entail? If Emanuel’s April tweets are any indication, it entails interfering in internal Japanese political matters.
Over a series of tweets in late April, Ambassador Emanuel shared photos of himself and the American Embassy staff heading out—in full rainbow regalia, the new red, white, and blue—to join the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade. The usual celebration of civilizational collapse? All in a day’s work for our man in Tokyo.
But it was this tweet that started the firestorm: “Now is the time, now is the moment for Japan to be all that Japan can be. You could feel the energy in the air at @Tokyo_R_Pride. Today was a parade with purpose.”
Many in Japan were appalled. Not just at the sentiment, of course, or at the tone-deafness of a man who speaks zero Japanese inserting himself into a national debate he knows nothing about. After all, we know that liberal Americans consider themselves culturally superior to the Japanese. That was the entire premise behind dismantling the Japanese constitution and imposing a new one. Never mind that Japan has been a democratic country since the 19th century.
The sheer cultural chauvinism of the American Embassy is a daily occurrence. And it’s not just the embassy in Tokyo that’s so good at it. Everywhere you find an American diplomatic outpost, you’ll find people who specialize in evangelizing for sodomy and the exportation of democracy via drone strike. Most Americans don’t realize it, but overseas the rainbow flag and the arms deal together have become the national brand.
No, what was appalling was that the American ambassador to Japan was not even pretending that the country he runs as proconsul has a functioning democracy of its own, or any sovereignty to speak of. Teruhisa Se, an extraordinarily thoughtful scholar and public intellectual who teaches political theory and political philosophy at Kyushu University, spoke truthfully when he called Ambassador Emanuel’s display “naisei kansho”—interference in internal governmental affairs.
Emanuel was just getting started. A couple of days after essentially tweeting policy orders to the Japanese government, he was back on Twitter: “The @Tokyo_R_Pride parade may be over, but the march towards #equality continues—now is the time! Great to see @Marriage4All_ Director Matsunaka Gon to talk about how to move forward to a place where there is not ‘gay marriage’ and ‘straight marriage,’ but just ‘marriage.’”
The next day, as his Twitter feed lit up with outraged Japanese people denouncing his high-handed tactics and vowing that Japan would never go the way of the Democrat-run USA, Ambassador Emanuel hit back with this very thinly veiled threat:
The equality countdown begins now. As I said at Tokyo Rainbow Pride and will say again: no one should have patience when it comes to equal rights for all. This is the time, this is the moment to have your voices heard as the Diet meets today. It’s time for a new era where members of the LGBTQI+ community feel at home in [Japan] & [America].
The Diet reference was about an LGBT bill advancing through the Japanese parliament. For weeks on end now, the Japanese papers and the national conversation have been addled with talk about the bill. Pitched as a way to end discrimination against “sexual minorities,” the bill, say its many critics, is unnecessary and will harm Japanese society.
But who needs democratic discourse? What was apparent to all observers was that Emanuel was pushing to have the bill clear committee and get voted into law before Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hosted the G7 summit in Hiroshima. Japanese politics, as always, bend to serve Washington’s interests.
With that deadline surely in mind, Ambassador Emanuel’s interference in Japanese affairs continued at a fever pitch. On April 26, the American ambassador appointed himself Rainbow Czar for the Far East as he worked to impose Washington’s will.
“What do the #G7 foreign ministers, Japan Trade Union Confederation (RENGO) @unionion President Yoshino Tomoko, and most Japanese citizens have in common with me?” Ambassador Emanuel tweeted. “We all agree it’s time for #Japan’s anti-discrimination legislation protecting #LGBTQI+ rights.”
And on and on he went. On April 27, above a photo of himself with six members of the Japanese parliament, Ambassador Emanuel lectured: “In poll after poll, the Japanese people have spoken—and they have said ‘no’ to discrimination. These Diet members are trying to make change and protect #LGBTQI+ rights in Japan.”
This of course undermines Emanuel’s entire rationale, at least the ostensible one, for his interference campaign. If Japanese people support something, then the democratic system will sort it out domestically. No action on the part of the Washington proconsul is required. Japanese people are neither stupid nor illiterate. Japanese know how to think and vote, and don’t need any hand-holding or back-pushing from Rahm Emanuel.
Or, does Emanuel not think that Japan is a democratic country? Perhaps he reflexively assumes that he will have to apply the usual dose of “gaiatsu,” foreign pressure, to get the recalcitrant reactionaries in Tokyo to get with the Washington program? That certainly has been the standard operating procedure for the past eight decades.
It is so ingrained that Emanuel probably doesn’t even realize that his real mission in this country is to act as fixer in a far-flung corner of the Washington Empire. Surely Emanuel has no idea how satrap-y he looks. To wit, the very next tweet on the ambassador’s scroll after the “poll after poll” finger-waving denounced “Chinese economic coercion”—no twisting Japanese arms!
It was then back to the familiar territory of hectoring the Japanese. The piece de resistance of Emanuel’s social engineering experiment came on May 12, when the ambassador shared a video that his staff—by now clearly scrambling to contain a P.R. disaster—made to shore up his position.
In the video, diplomats from the European Union, Ireland, Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Iceland dance dutifully and sing along in unison to the American ambassador’s very gay tune. LGBT is great, the message runs. Japan needs to get on board with the rest of the world.
“When my closest friends give me the same advice,” Emanuel drives his point home, “I pay attention. Fifteen foreign missions in #Tokyo have each lent their singular voice to a common message: we support universal human rights for all, we support #LGBTQI+ communities, and we oppose discrimination.”
It was not lost on us in Japan that the “fifteen foreign missions” in the video represent polities that lay in societal ruin, places where children are targeted by drag queens and transgender “doctors” and crime has skyrocketed alongside unlimited immigration. No, we would rather not be like the United Kingdom, thanks.
The top response to Emanuel’s May 12 exercise in no-self-awareness came from a Japanese speaker. It was short and sweet. “Dete ike,” it read. If I might translate this for the benefit of His Excellency, it means, “Get the hell out.”
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