For Many Japanese Tabloids, Anti-semitism is Fit to Print
Menu JTA Search

For Many Japanese Tabloids, Anti-semitism is Fit to Print

Download PDF for this date

Pundits have attributed Bill Clinton’s presidential victory to economic, generational and psychological factors, but readers of the Japanese tabloid press know better: Clinton won thanks to the machinations of Jewish-Zionist plotters.

“A select group of Japanese editors and commentators charges that Clinton’s road to the White House has been paved by a conspiracy of American Jewish political interests, world Jewish capital and Zionist opinion leaders orchestrated from Tel Aviv.”

So writes David Williams from Tokyo in a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times. Williams has taught Japanese government at Oxford University and is the author of “Japan: Beyond the End of History,” to be published this year.

In his article, Williams criticizes both the United States and Japan for the chauvinistic prejudices each country holds of the other, but he concentrates on the hysterical anti-Jewish attacks that permeate Tokyo’s tabloid weeklies.

One such publication, Shukan Gendai (Contemporary Weekly), carried a cover story on “President-elect Clinton’s ‘Jewish Strategy Towards Japan.'”

Across two pages, the headline shouted, “Jewish Capital That Pulls the Strings in the Clinton Administration and Its Frightening Plans for Japan.”

The goal of the Jewish string-pullers, the weekly continued, is “to disguise America’s troubles by attacking Japan, to exploit the U.S.-Japan security pact to fetter this country and to shift blame for America’s economic failure onto Japanese shoulders.”

According to Masatake Takahashi, described by Williams as one of Japan’s legion of self-proclaimed foreign policy experts, the final ambition of the “Zionists” is “to throw Japanese society into disorder.”

To more sophisticated readers, such rantings are taken as “yomi-mono” (chewing gum for the eyes), writes Williams, but he warns that “anti-Semitism, first lighted by the high-yen recession of the mid-1980s, and now reignited by Japan’s post-bubble business downturn, is becoming a whole climate of opinion.”


In such a climate, a sports tabloid can alert its readers that a popular Japanese professional wrestler is “the target of Jewish capital” and a serious newspaper can assert that the plot of a Woody Allen comedy turns on Jewish domination of American radio broadcasting.

At the same time, thousands of Japanese snatch up anti-Semitic books, such as Ryu Ohta’s “The Global Strategy of the Seven Great Jewish Zaibatsu (Plutocrats),” Go Akama’s “The Jewish-Christian Conspiracy” and Masami Uno’s “Understand the Jews and You’ll Understand Japan.”

The last work carries the subtitle, “As the time approaches when a hollowed-out Japan will be at the mercy of the Jews.”

The flood of anti-Semitic outpourings has not been dammed by the recent diplomatic rapprochement between Tokyo and Jerusalem, nor by the Japanese government’s call to Arab countries to ease their boycott of Israel, Williams writes.

Indeed, few Japanese voices are raised against the press’ anti-Semitic fantasies. One reason cited by Williams is that “Japan is not an heir to the humanizing influence of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, (which) may explain why Japanese critics of anti-Semitism are so few.”

But Neil Sandberg, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Pacific Rim Institute since its founding three years ago, cautioned that while the anti-Semitic stories cited by Williams indeed exist, they need to be judged within the context of Japanese society.

Sandberg has dealt regularly with Japanese government and industrial officials on matters affecting Israel and other Jewish concerns.

“There are fewer than 1,000 Jews in Japan and the Japanese know next to nothing about Jews,” said Sandberg. “Anti-Semitism in Japan is far less dangerous than in Europe, or even the United States.”

Nevertheless, because Japan is becoming a political as well as economic world power, which will eventually export not only goods but ideas, we need to watch manifestations of anti-Semitism in Japan without blowing the problem out of proportion, Sandberg added.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has expressed its concern about attacks on American Jews by sensationalist tabloids, Sandberg said.

His own institute is encouraging serious Japanese publications to carry more objective articles about Israel and Jews, at the same time suggesting that influential Japanese go public with their private criticism of the tabloid tactics.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund