For whatever reason, one of the themes of Japanese society is that its citizens don’t show much in the way of patriotism. Loving one’s country is something that most Americans take for granted, and I found it puzzling when I went to Japan and found it populated with people who were pretty ho-hum on the subject of their own country, despite its many impressive achievements in the world today. This is understandable to a certain extent, since it was an abundance of nationalistic fervor that caused so much pain and suffering in the last century, and many Japanese wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing too much love for their country in any visible form. This means that the only active “patriots” in Japan are, sadly, those annoying right-wingers who drive around in loudspeaker trucks blasting revisionist speeches about World War II and singer Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi’s famous song “Japan! Where are you going? Japan! What are you doing?” (oddly, sung in English). It’s embarrassing, but to wear a Japanese flag on your clothing essentially identifies you as someone who shares the views of these extreme groups. Personally I’d like to see normal Japanese start some kind of “take back the Japanese flag from nationalist crazies” campaign, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
Are Japan’s nutty right-wingers the only patriots in the country?