LOS ANGELES (Jun. 16)
“Japan is a country very taken with literature that smacks of classics anti-Semitic scapegoating,” but unlike the West, it has not led to any overt anti-Semitic acts, according to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center here.
Cooper spoke on his return from a week-long fact-finding mission to Japan, where he visited some bookstores and found many anti-Semitic books for sale on the mass market.
“What I found at virtually every one of the two dozen bookstands I visited in Tokyo,” Cooper said, “were popularly priced books which blamed international Jewry for every conceivable problem, from the overvaluation of the yen to a purported cover-up of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.”
The proliferation of Japanese best-selling books with anti-Semitic themes “continues unabated,” said Cooper, even as Japan’s foreign minister, Sosuke Uno, prepared for his first visit to Israel next week.
“But unlike societies of the West and in the Islamic world, this phenomena has not sparked any overt anti-Semitic acts,” said Cooper.
He added, however, that it was a disturbing development in a country which has almost no Jews.
The Chernobyl charge is in a book by Takashi Hirose, published last month, titled “Find the Hyde of Dr, Jekyll,” that was prominently displayed in Tokyo’s two largest bookstores.
One of its main themes is a charge that Armand Hammer, chairman of the Occidental Petroleum Co., and other prominent Jews conspired to profit from the Chernobyl disaster.
Another Japanese author, Masami Uno, has had a string of best-sellers in recent years about the alleged machinations of international Jewry and how it is responsible for Japan’s problems.
OVER 2.5 MILLION COPIES
His books have sold over 2.5 million copies in the last two years. One has been translated into Korean, and he was recently invited to Seoul to share his “expertise” on world Jewry, Cooper said.
He said he warned Japanese officials and others with whom he met that the situation is bound to have international repercussions in at least three areas.
According to Cooper, the proliferation of anti-Semitic canards cannot help but influence the Japanese people toward the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
These books damage Japan’s image in the United States and especially in the American Jewish community, at a time of economic and trade problems between the two countries.
Finally, according to Cooper, the continued silence of Japanese authorities and intellectuals in the wake of this anti-Semitic campaign, coupled with Japan’s adherence to the Arab League boycott of Israel, seriously questions Japan’s ability to contribute to the Middle East peace process in an “even-handed manner.”