Britain and Japan: Between Two Islands

©Terry Boardman   May 1996

It is largely through their devotion to industrialism and competition that Britain and Japan have risen to world prominence. Japan’s rise began in the 1890s, just as England’s imperial sun started to set. Here we see evidence of a remarkable parallelism in the histories of these two countries. Until the year 1600, they had both been developing for a thousand years into united and disciplined nations. During the Tudor dynasty in England (1485-1603) and the Azuchi-Momoyama period in Japan (1568-1600), this process was largely completed. In the year 1600, the two nations “met” for the first time through the career of a single individual, the English pilot, Will Adams, who was shipwrecked in Japan and went on to become a samurai, an advisor to the shogun (military dictator) Ieyasu Tokugawa.

Adams’ mentor Ieyasu won his crucial battle for national dominance in 1600. In their overexaggerated fears of the threat from Spain and Portugal, Ieyasu and his successors progressively closed Japan off from the rest of the world. Most of them had names beginning with “Ie-” (household), the only dynasty in Japanese history to do so. They were a suspicious, inward-looking family, who accumulated vast wealth for themselves and created what could be called the world’s first attempt at a kind of ‘police state’, with spies everywhere and fearsome punishments for those who stepped out of line. The well-known social and industrial discipline of the Japanese owes much to the habits instilled in those years.

The British, meanwhile, expanded their island’s forces all over the globe in the 230 years between the time they gave up trading in Japan (1623) and when their progeny, the Americans, forced Japan at gunpoint to open for trade in 1853.  So we see a remarkable contraction at one end of the Eurasian continent and an expansion, at the other end. These two gestures took place precisely within the Regency of the Archangel Gabriel (1510-1879) during which Britain played a major role in initiating the world into the experience of scientific and technological materialism. This increasing interest in the world of the senses was the main characteristic of the Gabrielic epoch, Gabriel being the Archangel of the Moon, who promotes the incarnation process in all its forms. His rulership, as Rudolf Steiner so often stated , was marked by the rise of the science of the moon-brain as well as by the rise and fall of England as world hegemon. For although the British Empire controlled a fifth of the world’s landmass and dominated the oceans in 1914, Britain’s moon had already begun to set by the beginning of the Regency of the Sun Archangel Michael in 1879. In that same year Japan embarked on its first expansion overseas by seizing the islands of Okinawa. In the following 100 years, despite the defeat of 1945, Japan’s sun rose ever higher.

It did so, however, primarily in relationship with the Anglo-American world. The Americans forced Japan open in 1853 and until 1902 England and America shared the “tutelage” of the rapidly modernising Japan.  In 1902 a steadily weakening and increasingly nervous Britain came out of ‘splendid isolation’ to contract its first foreign alliance with the other splendidly isolated island – Japan! The alliance was directed at the major power between them, Russia, and Japan’s victories in the subsequent Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) had the effect of forcing Russia’s attentions away from Asia, back to its earlier ambitions in the Balkans, and hence to conflict with Austria-Hungary. In this way Japan unwittingly played a part in setting the stage for World War One. However, the Japanese also had showed that Europeans could be defeated, and their victories provided a powerful impetus for anti-colonial forces throughout the European empires, notably in India. This was to contribute greatly to the end of British rule in India. Here again, one sees a parallel between the two island peoples. Ever since Henry VIII’s time (1509-47), Britain has been cocking a snoop at the Continent, and throughout its history Japan has fiercely and proudly sought to defy the might of the Empires of China, Mongolia, and the West.

Since World War Two, when Japan has been very much under American control, much of her energy has been employed in spreading industrialism and materialism throughout Asia.  Together with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea (all under Anglo-American “guidance”) Japan has provided much of the massive investment that has gone into launching mainland China’s economic take-off. Rudolf Steiner said in 1917 that “something else is going to unite with the materialism that works in the industrial and commercial impulse; something coming from…the Chinese and Japanese element, particularly the Japanese element, will be increasingly caught up in materialism….the people who belong to <the secret societies of the West> do not regard this as something terrible, for they see it as a support for materialism. For what follows suit from Asia will simply be a particular form of materialism.”

Walk into any sizeable bookshop in Japan and you will find a large number of books aimed at businessmen, which claim to expose the “Jewish-Freemasonic-Anglo-saxon-Christian conspiracy against Japan”. America is the great Satan which seeks to make Japan its puppet in the New World Order. These books sell and are advertised in respectable newspapers. New ones come out every month. Such ideas thus circulate widely amongst the Japanese business and political class. They are not so much fascist in the modern sense as ultra-patriotic and xenophobic; they are rooted in the Japanese people’s long history of in-groupness and distance from foreigners. In Britain, on the other hand, you would have to look hard to find any such material. Any hint of conspiracy theory in Britain is constantly played down or ridiculed. Japan is a society in which modern materialism has shallower roots and in which the realities of life have always been recognised to lie in the invisible realm of the spirit. Political power too is thus readily recognised to lie behind the scenes. In the more deeply materialistic British society, on the other hand, what I do not see before me does not exist thus there are no conspiracies. Freemasons, and other such groups are irrelevant because their activities are opaque to me. Only what is clearly perceptible to the senses has validity – also in the political realm. The British do not recognise conspiracies, only cock-ups.

But when a magazine like the highly influential “Economist” of London is seen to be constantly supporting a particular Japanese politician and claiming that he represents the future for Japan, while for the xenophobic rightwing Japanese publications referred to above he is a traitor and a tool of America, we have an interesting symptom of the times.  Those same publications argue that Ichiro Ozawa, now leader of Japan’s main opposition party, has for some years been pursuing a clandestine programme to install himself as Governor of the Puppet State of Japan in the coming One World Union. Certainly, One World under Anglo-American control is precisely the kind of world that certain spiritual forces that work through “The Economist” and its allies in the Anglo-American Establishment have been seeking to bring about; it would not take any disinterested new reader of that magazine long to realise this.  For example, “The Economist” cover story of 28th June 1991 included the following words: “Those who have carried the winning ideas to the top of the mountain, and now wish to spread them, will not allow this process to be vetoed by the semi-converted or by plain toughs…America must remember that a willingness to involve others is not enough to make a collective world order work. There must also be a readiness to submit to it. If America really wants such an order, it will have to be ready to take its complaints to the GATT, finance the multilateral aid agencies, submit itself to the International Court, bow to some system to monitor arms exports, and make a habit of consulting the UN.”

“The Economist” is perhaps the most overt standard-bearer in the British media for the highly covert plans that have been cultivated in certain sections of the Anglo-American elite since the days of Cecil Rhodes in the 1890s. For “The Economist”, Japan is central to the US military presence in Asia and also central in the US bid to prevent Asia-Firsters like Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia from setting up all-Asian economic blocs (such as the East Asian Economic Caucus, EAEC) that would exclude America and make US control of Asian economies more difficult.

Ichiro Ozawa was a key member of the Liberal Democratic Party which ruled Japan for 38 years until 1993 when he engineered a coup and led a faction out of the party under the figurehead leadership of his subordinate, Tsutomu Hata. Over the next two years in the face of much opposition from the more nationalistic sections of the media and despite little real public enthusiasm, Ozawa carefully steered his new group into the position of leading opposition party and eventually took over the official leadership himself. As a result of his quiet revolution, the position of the erstwhile main opposition party, The Japan Socialist Party, has been totally undermined; its days are now numbered. Ozawa’s declared intention is to remodel Japanese politics on ‘normal’ two-party lines in the American style. He wishes to make Japanese foreign and defence policy even more closely allied to the US than it was under the LDP. He is a keen supporter of the US-favoured Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC). In Britain too, Tony Blair, the Labour Party leader, has reformed his Party in such a way that Britain will soon also have its own version of the Democrats and the Republicans.

One may speak of the intentions of the Anglo-American elite, but they are far from nationalistic. About these intentions, Rudolf Steiner said in 1917:

“…what is the aim of these secret brotherhoods? They do not work out of any particular… patriotism, but out of the desire to bring the whole world under the yoke of pure materialism. And because, in accordance with the laws of the fifth post-Atlantean period, certain elements of the British people as the bearer of the consciousness soul are most suitable for this, <the secret brostherhoods> want, by means of grey magic (by which Steiner could have meant the media) to use these elements as promoters of this materialism.”

 Like the British, the Japanese are an ‘isolated’ people; they live on an island. The word ‘isolation’ is etymologically related to ‘insulation’ – to be like an island (insula) , separate, individual. This is the nature of the physical realm of reality. In the 5th Post-Atlantean period the human ego works in the Consciousness Soul, which is that part of the soul which is oriented to the physical body, the body of isolation. This physical body serves as a mirror for the ego to become truly conscious of itself, to awaken to its self-existence and thus to its moral responsibility.  It is for this reason that, of all western countries, it should have been Britain in which the Industrial Revolution began. Japan is the Britain of Asia. These two island nations have had the task of inoculating their respective continents with the materialism that is a necessary precondition in the 5th Epoch for Man to awaken to his true nature, to understand what it is and what it is not.

Japan decided to modernise after 1853 when its elite had seen what the Opium Wars had done to China and how the Chinese had been unable to deal with the materially superior British. Modern industrial materialism is a drug which challenges us to awaken to its nature and to our own, and thus to find our freedom. Many commentators have noted that there is something in both the British and the Japanese peoples which, despite their deep involvement with materialism, remains free from it. It may be, as some have said, a certain deep-rooted nostalgia for pre-industrial times inherent in the conservative nature of these two island peoples. It may be related to the love of gardens and flowers, of the weather and the seasons which is profound in both countries. It may also be related to the particular modes of Christianity and Buddhism that have evolved there and which have, in their own way, fostered the development of the Consciousness Soul there. Whatever it is, we may ask whether it will be sufficient to get these two peoples through their current difficult periods as ‘drug dealers’.


GA = Rudolf Steiner’s Collected Works (Gesamtausgabe)

1. In 1600 the East India Company was founded in London. It went on to administer much of British India and contributed greatly to Britain’s global wealth.
2. see R.Steiner, lecture 19th July 1924
3. see R.Steiner, lecture 15 Jan 1917 GA 174.
4. Ozawa’s name has featured in many of its articles on Japanese politics and society in the last few years. In its March 9th 1996 issue Ichiro Ozawa was invited to write a special guest article in “The Economist” setting out his intentions for Japan.
5. “In short, the ‘house of world order’ will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down…an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish more than the old fsahioned frontal assault.” — Richard N.Gardner, deputy assistant secretary of state under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, in the Council On Foreign Affairs journal, “Foreign Affairs”, April 1974   “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.” –Brooke Chisholm, director of the UN World Health Organisation, SCP Journal summer 1991
6. R.Steiner, lecture of 15 Jan. 1917 GA 174
7. In passing, it may be noted that the mirror is the preeminent symbol of the native Japanese Shinto religion and that the full moon, and not the crescent moon, as in Islam, has long been a cultural icon in Japan.

© Terry Boardman

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