From the original article on December 05, 2021. Authors: Yukio Mishima, Masaki (translator).
1. We do not oppose all revolutions. Be they violent or non-violent, we oppose all designs and all action that seek to link Communism with administrative power. It goes without saying that this includes all plans of, or including, the formation of a democratic coalition government (pro-Communist government). We will not be deceived by the mask of internationalism or of nationalism, and we will not be misled by the methodological deceptions of direct democratic, popular front, or other forms. We oppose all forms, be they nominal or substantive, of linking Communism with administrative power.
The Communist Manifesto states as follows.
“The Communists […] openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”1
What we seek to protect are the culture, history, and traditions of Japan, for, according to their dialectical materialist method of interpretation, these are necessarily included in the “existing social conditions” that they seek to “overthrow.”
2. We proclaim ourselves the last maintainers, the final representatives, and the flower of the culture, history, and traditions of Japan that we seek to defend. We radically oppose all forms of thought that allude to a “better future society,” for action for the sake of the future negates the maturation of culture and the nobility of tradition, while transforming the irreplaceable present into a process towards revolution. To make oneself the manifestation of history; to here and now embody the essence of history, to personify the aesthetic forms of tradition, and to appoint oneself the last – these principles of action are those of the Divine Wind2 Special Attack Units. The members of the Special Attack Units3 have left us their testament, stating, “We believe that there will be others who continue after us.” It is this idea that truly and logically opposes that of the “better future society,” because the “others who continue” are none but those actors who have resolved that they are the last. Validity is of no importance.
3. We have observed that postwar revolutionary thought has moved entirely in accordance with the mass principle of the weak. However violent its expression may be, it is an ideology of the weak that is inseparable from the principles of the mass and the organization. This is a mass movement that spreads uncertainty, doubt, hatred, malice, and jealousy, uses these as the basis of their threats, and, with these the most base passions of the weak as its common element, aims at particular political goals. Under the pretext of empty and conceptually naïve ideals, they joined together on the basis of the basest passions of the weak, gained the majority, “democratically” rule all subgroups and sub-societies, and have thereby oppressed the minority and seeped into all areas of society. This is their method.
We take the position of the strong and begin from the minority. The clarity, magnanimity, honesty, and moral stature of the Japanese spirit belongs to us. Once again, validity is of no importance, because we think of neither our existence nor our actions as a process towards the future.
4. Why do we oppose Communism?
First, because it is absolutely incompatible with our national polity,4 that is, our culture, history, and tradition, and is logically incompatible with the existence of the Emperor, and, further, because the Emperor is the sole and irreplaceable symbol of our historical continuity and our cultural and ethnic unity.
The Meiji state, in planning the eclectic combination of the Western political system with the national polity of Japan, adopted the legal fiction of constitutional monarchy. Postwar Japan has been cut off from this eclectic combination and entered into the comfortably distant relations of parliamentary democracy and the symbolic Emperor System,5 but one can, on the other hand, say that for just this reason the cultural and non-authoritative nature of the Emperor has become clear. What must be recovered is not that grotesque eclecticism, let alone a system as destructive of our cultural continuity as republicanism.
We approve of freedom of speech, the virtue of contemporary Japan’s representative democracy, as a means of revealing the true figure of the Emperor, because it is at the point of contact between the maximum acceptable totality of Japanese culture and the Emperor System as a cultural concept that the new, yet old, national polity which Japan is to discover shall surely be revealed.
Now, they use freedom of speech instrumentally, procedurally, and strategically, while arguing that it contains within itself the progressive value of logically encouraging revolution, but this is a mistake. Freedom of speech is no more than the line of mutual compromise between politics and humanity and is simultaneously that which satisfies the minimal instinctual requirements of man. (See “The State of Freedom and Power” in this same volume).
At present, we possess no political system more capable of guaranteeing freedom of speech than multiparty parliamentary democracy.
This purely technical political system, the motto of which is “compromise,” has the fault of being lacking in idealism and leadership, but it is most appropriate for protecting freedom of speech. It alone is capable of resisting totalitarianism as well as the speech controls, secret police, and concentration camps that necessarily accompany it. Consequently,
Second, we oppose Communism in order to defend freedom of speech.
We shall surely smash the nationalist mask of the Japan Communist Party, that is, the illusion of an unprecedented Japanese-style humanitarian socialism, the first in the world, that will guarantee freedom of speech, for (even if carried out as they state) if this experiment were to succeed, it is clear that it would immediately reveal its terrible essence, that is, single-party dictatorship.
5. Verbal struggle, economic struggle, and political struggle are their well-worn devices, and to propose “dialogue” is to already be immersed in their strategy. This battle must take place only once, and it must be one of life and death. After the battle of life and death, it is history, the values of the spirit, and morality that shall pass judgement. Our counterrevolution is an act of intercepting the enemy at water’s edge, and this water’s edge is not that of Japanese territory, but the breakwater in the soul of each and every Japanese. Though our enemies be legion, we must strike a blow at the vile hordes of revolution. In the teeth of the slander and abuse, the ridicule, and the provocations of the masses, in order to awaken the worm-eaten spirit of Japan, with these our lives we must strike a blow at them.
We are those who shall embody the aesthetic tradition of Japan.
1 Taken from page 63 here. Mishima does not note the elision in his text.
3 In Japanese, the kamikaze are typically referred to as such. This is to differentiate them from the origins of the term in the Mongol invasions and other groups that have taken it up, like the Shinpūren.
4 国体 kokutai. This is an old Confucian term that was given new meaning by Aizawa Seishisai in his 1825 New Theses, which is available in a translation by Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi in Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early-Modern Japan. This is not the place to go into detail on the history of this term, but it has been understood variously to refer to the Japanese state and people, the Imperial House, and, as Mishima here states, the culture and traditions of Japan. The unifying idea behind all uses of the term is that of the trait or traits that distinguish one polity from another.
5 The term “Emperor System” (天皇制 tennōsei) was first introduced by the Japan Communist Party in 1927 and came into universal usage after the war as a result of the predominance of Marxist intellectuals. Few today remember its origins, and we must forgive Mishima for being unaware of the source of a term that was coined when he was two.
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