JAPAN: Push & Pull

In the bad old days, Japanese jingoism centered around the strident, state-supported cult of Shinto. The big holiday for nationalist noisemaking was Feb. 11, known as kigensetsu (Foundation Day), solemnly determined by later scholars as the day in 660 B.C. when Japan's founder, Emperor Jimmu, great-great-great-grandson of the Sun Goddess, ascended the throne with the divinely sanctioned mission of making Japan "the center of the world."

On Foundation Day, schoolchildren in black robes were led out for compulsory rites honoring the God-Emperor, bowing toward the great walled palace in Tokyo as Moslems bow toward Mecca. Shops were closed, and throughout Japan's...

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