David and Godzilla:[1] Anti-Semitism and Seppuku in Japanese Publishing


By Tom Brislin, Ph.D.

University of Hawaii




Two months before the March 20, 1995 Aum Shinrikyo attack on Tokyo's subways using Nazi-developed sarin poison gas, a leading Japanese news magazine published a story "There Were No Nazi Gas Chambers!" in World War II. Ironically, large ads for the Holocaust-denial article hung in hundreds of subway cars throughout Tokyo's myriad mass transit system. The magazine, Marco Polo, was on sale at numerous newsstands in the cavernous Kasumigaseki station, the gassing target where three major subway lines meet and thousands of officials and workers disembark beneath the metropolitan government complex.

Anti-Semitic books and articles are not uncommon in Japan. Most tend to favor conspiracy theories of international Jewish control of political and economic forces, and attempts to subdue the Japanese economy. Most, like the Marco Polo article, are one-sided, riddled with historic inaccuracies, and lack any semblance of substantiation. They are met with official protests from the Israeli Embassy, and occasionally the U.S. Embassy, who traditionally ask for a public, published apology and a subsequent corrective article that cites historic record. The "No Gas Chambers" article also brought a strong protest from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who called for an advertiser boycott.  

The response by the Marco Polo parent company, publishing giant Bungei Shunju, was as surprising as it was swift: In abject apology, Marco Polo would cease publication. The magazine would be completely disbanded. All unsold issues would be recalled. Its editor would be transferred to a non-publishing research section, and its staff dispersed to other Bungei publications. The top officials at Bungei Shunju would take hefty salary cuts as personal penance. One would resign. Officials, editors and staff would attend a series of seminars conducted by the Wiesenthal Center to atone and correct their misconceptions on Jewish history.

The termination of the 250,000 circulation Marco Polo was an unprecedented response, stunning both its admirers and critics. But was the killing of the magazine a symbolic seppuku -- ritual suicide as the ultimate apology -- on the part of Bungei Shunju, or was it more of a case of cosmetic surgery -- to rid the publishing house of what had become an increasingly irritating, unsightly, and unprofitable, lesion on its otherwise respectable product and record?

The Marco Polo incident offers a case study in contradictions, conflicts and paradoxes in intercultural communication. Japanese publications seem to simultaneously delight in and decry Jews, based on a construction of deep-seated conspiracy theories and shallow stereotypes. The structure and value systems of the Japanese press produce extremely uniform and conservative mainstream newspapers, and wildly sensational ³news² magazines, neither comfortable with any attempt to impose a Western framework of ³objectivity.² Japanese systems of internalized management decision-making and conflict resolution are traumatized in the face of a Western style of confrontational politics, such as the advertising boycott that forced the Marco Polo case into the harsh glare of international publicity. The extreme action of killing off of a magazine left a lingering question: Did it communicate the need for more tolerance, diversity and education in Japanese publications, or did it send the offending messages of conspiracism underground, to replenish and sprout anew?

This study was conducted primarily in Tokyo, Japan, at two intervals: three months after the demise of Marco Polo, and three years later. Japanese and American journalists, and embassy officials from the United States and Israel were interviewed, as were leaders of the Jewish Community Center. Additional interviews were conducted with, and materials gathered from, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center. News stories about the Marco Polo controversy were analyzed from the English-language editions of four Japanese newspapers as well as from reports filed by the Tokyo bureaus of four major American newspapers, one wire service, and the international edition of one news magazine. A search for subsequent news stories in the three years following the controversy was done through the databases for newspapers of the Foreign Press Center, and for magazines of the Ooya Sooichi Library, in Tokyo. Background information on the Bungei Shunju publishing company and its nine magazines, including Marco Polo, was obtained from Japanese magazine and advertising sources, and from the Foreign Press Center. The "No Gas Chambers" article in Marco Polo was analyzed for content, as was advertising in one of Japan's leading national dailies, and a leading weekly magazine, for an anti-Semitic book. Background was gathered and analyses made of Japanese perceptions of Jews from several Japanese and U.S. published books and articles, and from interviews with Japanese, U.S. and Israeli officials.

Anti-Semitism in Japan

With only about 2,000 Jews living in Japan, the Japanese have little first-hand experience in relating to Jewish people and culture. There have been, however, numerous books and magazine articles published in Japan about the Japanese and the Jews, or Nihonjin and  Yudayajin. These writings have increasingly, within the last decade, adopted anti-Semitic themes that blame shadowy international Jewish cartels and conspiracies with Japan's current economic problems. Whole sections of bookstores, since the mid-1980s, have been given over to books about Yudayajin with such titles as: The Jewish Plot to Control the World, The Expert Way of Reading the Jewish Protocols, and  The Secret of Jewish Power That Moves the World. 

The anti-Semitic tone of such books, educators, authors and officials believe, is borne not so much out of hatred as out of ignorance and economic uncertainty. Goldstein credits it "not (to) race or religion, but economics" (1989, 22). A Japanese professor of Jewish history says "The Japanese don't know anything about the Jews. That's why they imagine things" (Sakamaki, 1995, 17). David Goodman and Masanori Miyazawa, in Jews in the Japanese Mind,  write "Various attempts have been made to account for the intensity of Japanese interest in Jews, and particularly to explain the persistent chimerical belief in a global Jewish conspiracy bent on destroying Japan" (1995, 11). Arie Dan, First Secretary for Press and Information of the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo notes that "Japanese high school students do not study World War II. They have no sense of their, or anyone else's history" (1995).

Still, the pervasiveness of  the "Jewish Conspiracy" sentiment is alarming, called by an American journalist "a persistent theme in Japanese intellectual life that has taken on a new virulence since the Persian Gulf War" and by a Japanese journalist "not a fad but a dangerous phenomenon that needs to be stopped. "(Goozner, 1989, 22) . Two books by Masami Uno, the leading anti-Semite author, have sold more than 1 million copies,  If You Understand the Jews, You Will Understand the World, and If You Understand the Jews You Will Understand Japan. Arie Dan points out that millions more Japanese are familiar with Uno's claims against the Jews because they are highlighted in lengthy advertisements for the books carried -- uncritically, Dan complains -- by Japan's leading newspapers. "They see the headlines in bold type: statements that the Jews are responsible for Japan's economic crisis. That's all they see, that's all they know, that's what they come to believe."  Dan recounted his own two years of graduate study in Business Administration at Tokyo's prestigious Keio University: "In my classes, my own professors, learned men, would espouse international Jewish conspiracy theories to control the Japanese Economy" (1995).

Yoshito Takigawa, a former journalist and chief information officer for the Embassy of Israel adds his dismay that the newspaper advertisements for Uno's and other conspiracy theory books also boost their sales "from under a total of 5,000 to 30,000 or more  a month," giving them an aura of credibility as best-sellers. Because of the increased sales following the advertisements, "the newspaper itself starts quoting the book's thesis as valid economic theory. The Yomiuri (Japan's largest newspaper: 10 million daily circulation) did that," Takigawa said, a concern echoed by Goodman and Miyazawa, who also noted that Uno's theories were given credibility through inclusion in Bank of Japan discussions and that Uno himself was subsequently invited to a lecture series by the then-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (1995).

The Nihon Keizai (Nikkei) Shimbun, Japan's counterpart to the Wall Street Journal, and Bungei Shunju¹s own Shukan Bunshun, a popular general interest weekly, carried advertisements in 1993 for Get Japan, The Last Enemy: The Jewish Protocols for World Domination, described by Goodman and Miyazawa:

Emblazoned with Jewish stars and an image of Satan, the ad claimed that 'Jewish cartels surrounding the Rothschilds control Europe, America, and Russia and have now set out to conquer Japan!' It outlined the Jewish scenario to destroy the Japanese economy, blaming the Jews for everything from the cut in Japanese interest rates in 1987 to the Gulf War and predicting the 'reoccupation' of Japan by Jews by the end of the decade (1995, 245).

The anti-Semitic success phenomenon is not restricted to relatively unknown authors boosted to fame through media advertisement and coverage.  The Secret of Jewish Power to Control the World was written by Eisaburo Saito, a member of the Upper House of the Japanese Diet. A book by Yoshio Ogai, an influential official of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, prescribes Hitler as a role model for winning office in Hitler Election Strategy: A Bible for Certain Victory in Modern Elections.

Even Shoko Asahara, leader of the doomsday Aum Shinrikyo cult responsible for the 1995 subway gassing, published a book Manual of Fear that attacked Jews as the ³world shadow government² (Pipes, 1997, 180) that controlled the Emperor, President Clinton, and Madonna (Kaplan & Marshall, 1996, 219-220).

Daniel Pipes (1997) sets three basic elements of a conspiracy theory:

·                   A powerful, evil and clandestine group that aspires to global hegemony;

·                   Dupes and agents who extend the group¹s influence around the world so that it is on the verge of succeeding; and

·                   A valiant but embattled group that urgently needs help to stave off the catastrophe (22).

Pipes states conspiracism ­ the basaltic belief in conspiracy theories ­ ³tends to come disproportionately from two broad groups of people: the politically disaffected and the culturally suspicious (2) . . . Benign and malign views of Jewish power have co-existed in Japan for nearly a century, leading to confusion so intense it has a near-comic quality² (190).

The conspiracy theories have their roots in a belief of a powerful Jewish cartel with immense economic and geopolitical control. Uno, for instance, claims that the U.S. Reagan and Bush administrations were merely puppet governments responding to the strings pulled by the Jewish shadow regime. That brings a handy anti-American overtone to the theories as well. Jewish interests, he claims, control IBM, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Standard Oil, Exxon and AT&T. "Jewish" mass media in the United States manipulated public opinion to get Bill Clinton elected president so that he could carry out cabal instructions to enact economic policies to ruin Japan. Anyone viewed as working against contemporary or historic Japanese interests, in Uno's books, is declared a Jew, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Rockefellers and the Morgans, Vladimir Lenin, and, inexplicably, former Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Goodman & Miyazawa, 1995). William Morgan, U.S. Embassy press attaché, feels the Japanese have been historically fond of or "susceptible to conspiracy theories," citing the historic ABCD theory (attempts at containment by the Americans, British, Chinese and Dutch) as justification for attacks on China and expansionism in Asia in the 1930s. (1995).

Uno and other anti-Semitic theorists speculate the conspiracy to destroy Japan is rooted in a hatred by Jews for Japan's joining the Axis Powers in World War II and its adherence to all OPEC conditions of trade embargoes with Israel during the oil crises of the 1970s. Ironically, one historic precedent for the theories of Jewish economic and geo-political influence comes from the financing and fundraising by American Banker Jacob Schiff for Japan's 1904-05 war with Russia. Inherent in many books and magazine articles is a begrudging respect for what is perceived as Jewish economic prowess, an image the Japanese like to picture in themselves. This is reflected in such works as Make Money With Stocks the Jews Aim At, and in the boastful descriptions by leading executives such as Den Fujita, president of McDonald's Japan, who calls himself the "Ginza Jew." 

  Not all the published works in the "Jewish Corners" of Japanese bookstores deal with conspiracy theories or anti-Semitic themes. Some represent what Goodman and Miyazawa call "philosemitism."  Ann Frank: Diary of A Young Girl is one of the major best-sellers in Japan, as is The Japanese and the Jews, an adulatory work by Shichihei Yamamoto, writing as Isaiah Ben-Dasan. There is also a national fascination with links between Japanese and Jews that is reflected in popular Yudayajin books and magazine articles through three major themes:

* Lost Tribe: Some authors have speculated on an anthropological link between Jews and Japanese under the theory that the Japanese are descendants of the seventh, or "lost tribe" of Israel that migrated eastward across Asia, through China and into Japan. One author draws support from the similarities between the Kagome family crest (symbolizing basket weaving) and the six-pointed Star of David (Ben-Dasan, 1971). Some speculate the indigenous Ainu, eventually driven to the northern island of Hokkaido, are the descendants of the Lost Tribe.  One theory holds that Christ himself was buried in Japan following his flight from the Holy Land after his brother James was crucified in his place.  

* Japanese Schindler: Although Japan sided militarily with Nazi Germany in World War II, it did not accept the Third Reich's policy of persecution -- and extermination -- of Jews.  A Japanese counterpart to Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews, arose in the form of Chiune Sempo Sugihara, Japan's consul in Lithuania, who saved as many as 8,000 Jews by issuing them exit visas, allowing them to emigrate to Japan. Although Sugihara was acting against national policy, the Jews who used Japan as a wartime waystation were not isolated or persecuted by the government. Nearly all left Japan by war's end.

* Fugu Plan: Although the Japanese held no racial animosity toward the Jews in World War II, the government saw some potential for its own empire building while helping Nazi allies remove Jews from Europe. The Japanese had seized the vast province of Manchuria from China and renamed it Manchukuo. But the government had few citizens to spare, or who were interested, in settling in the Chinese mainland and converting it into a Japanese economic stronghold. The Fugu Plan was designed to resettle 50,000 persecuted European Jews in Manchukuo, who would also act as a buffer against the neighboring Soviet Union. It never got off the ground, but is often cited as an example of a legacy of wartime compassion (Kranzler, 1996, 562-3).

The Japanese character is often described in terms of contrasts and paradoxes.   "Anti" and "philo" Semitic sentiments can be held, and published, simultaneously. The same publishing house released Ann Frank, a major "Lost Tribe" treatise, carried advertisements for Zionist Conspiracy books, published an empathetic article on Auschwitz, and the "No Nazi Gas Chambers" debacle: Bungei Shunju.

The Bungei Empire and Rise of Marco Polo

Bungei Shunju is a powerhouse of a publisher in Japan, comparable to Time-Life in the United States. It published nine magazines up to the elimination of Marco Polo. Its flagship magazine is the self-titled Bungei Shunju, a monthly with 550,000 circulation, described by the Japan Magazine Advertising Association as "the most prestigious general interest magazine in Japan, reflecting the opinions of the intellectual elite of the country" aimed at "readers in their 40s and 50s with annual incomes of $90,000 . . ..² (1993, 24).

 Bungei also publishes some of the oldest and most established magazines in Japan, including All Yomimono (92,000 circulation), featuring light fiction, and Bunga Kukai (50,000 circulation), serious Japanese and international fiction. Both were started in the 1930s. Bunga Kukai is regarded as one of the most respected magazines in Japan.

The publishing house also produces popular journals of analysis and commentary. The Shokun! (145,000 circulation), a "national forum for national debate and summary of ideas,² and Shukan Bunshun (704,000 circulation), featuring "social, political, economic, sports and health issues; feature articles and opinions by world renowned novelists; and critical essayists" (1993, 28).

Bungei has engaged in successful niche publishing for specialty topics and audiences, including a Sports Illustrated-modeled Sports Graphic Number (280,000 circulation), Crea (250,000 circulation), a woman's magazine, and No Side (80,000 circulation), for "sophisticated and wealthy readers over 45 . . . with quality articles (that) help readers lead more comfortable and healthy lives" (1993, 26).

In 1992 Bungei began publishing Marco Polo, aimed at the market its other magazines were missing: young adults in their 20s and 30s. This lucrative market was weaned on manga, or comic magazines and graphic novels, which they continue to read into adulthood. To reach them, Bungei designed its new magazine to present stories visually, with plenty of photos, illustrations and graphic type. It described its content as: "Articles (that) deal with lifestyle, love, fashion, car, entertainment, domestic and international politics and the economy. Practical, informative, yet enjoyable stories to fill the need of reading pleasure" (Japanese Magazine Advertising Association, 1993, 26). Several Japanese and American journalists in Tokyo likened Marco Polo to People magazine in the United States. The name Marco Polo was selected to emphasize a sense of discovery and internationalism. Ironically, Marco Polo ran an article during its first year of publication about Auschwitz, ³from the eyes of a young Jew who visited there² (Schreiber, 1998).

The book and magazine market in Japan is huge. The Foreign Press Center reports in Japan's Mass Media (1994) that magazines sell 3.7 billion copies a year. Most are sold in retail bookstores, so rely on intensive advertising campaigns to support single-copy sales. Subway and rail cars are prime advertising space, with 10-12 placards per car hanging from the ceilings, as well as dozens more framed on the upper walls.

Marco Polo began as a semi-monthly, but its younger audience was not as easily drawn or loyal as the publisher hoped. It quickly changed to a monthly, with a respectable 500,000 circulation. But by the time of its demise, its circulation dropped by half, it had undergone several design changes, and relied more heavily on sensational and attention-grabbing stories that could be boldly proclaimed in subway placard ads. The ones appearing January 20, 1955 to promote the February issue proclaimed: "The Greatest Taboo of Postwar History: There Were No Nazi 'Gas Chambers.'"

"No Gas Chambers"

Masanori Nishioka is a physician and amateur historian. He had been unsuccessful in finding a home for his freelance holocaust-denial treatise until he received an acceptance from Marco Polo editor Kazuyoshi Hanada.

The article appeared in the February 1995 issue of Marco Polo. An editor's note introduced the article:

On January 27, the Auschwitz concentration camp will observe the 50th anniversary of its 'liberation.' However, here the greatest taboo of postwar history is being kept a secret . . .. There can be no mistake that jews died tragically. However, there is scant evidence that they were systematically killed in gas chambers. After the war's end, it was proved that no gas chambers existed in any of the concentration camps situated in the West . . .. Actually, these type of suspicions have been subjected to the scrutiny of journalism in Europe and the U.S. . . . Why is it that only Japan's mass media that does not write anything on this subject? Here is the new historic truth that a young doctor has taken it upon himself to investigate as an individual (1995).

The title pages were illustrated by the headline overlaid on a graphic photo of a pile of concentration camp corpses in striped uniforms, with eyes and mouths open, transfixed in death. Other photo illustrations included stacked canisters of Zyklon-B (hydrogen-cyanide) gas, and the brick crematorium ovens and smokestacks.

Nishioka claimed these images, as shocking as they are, are misleading. Although Jews were imprisoned by the Nazis in World War II, he contended, they were not summarily destroyed in gas chambers. The gas chamber taboo, or myth, he claims, was started by the Polish communist government to legitimize itself by heaping more hate on the Nazis.

Yes, Nishioka admits, many Jews died in the camps. But their deaths were the result of septic diseases such as typhus, resulting from their cramped and unsanitary conditions. And yes, according to Nishioka, such casualties of disease were cremated in the ovens.

But the idea of gas chambers just doesn't make sense, according to Nishioka. The cyanide gas was there because it was used, in low strengths, for delousing. The tales of high-strength gas pouring from showerheads or ceiling spigots defies Nishioka's scientific sense: Such gas is lighter than air, he claims. It would not fall and settle efficiently on the prisoners for mass killing. And besides, Nishioka triumphs, the gas is highly flammable. The "shower rooms" are pictured next to the crematoriums: If gas were dispensed there, it would ignite and explode, destroying the buildings.

Some excerpts from Nishioka's article:

A gas chamber in Auschwitz has no structural features needed for gassing people to death . . .. The Holocaust was a fabricated story. The gas chambers and so on at Auschwitz and the other concentration camps didn't exit. The 'gas chambers' currently open to the public at the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland were built either by the postwar Polish Communist government, or else by its patron, the Soviet Union. Neither at Auschwitz nor anywhere else in territory occupied by Germany during World War II, did even one 'mass extermination of Jews' occur in 'gas chambers.'

I have absolutely no intention of defending wartime German policy toward Jews. Although the mass extermination of Jews in concentration camps never took place, it is a clear historical fact that innocent Jews were made to suffer by Germany . . .. (But) forget Schindler's List -- a movie is not history.

The story of gas chambers was propaganda, one of the psychological strategies used in wartime . . .. The Holocaust is nothing but a story which has become 'history' after the war without being given investigation (1995).

Despite his attack on "manufactured history" and his analysis of the layout, structure and administration of Auschwitz and Dachau, Nishioka admitted he never visited any of the concentration camps, Poland, Germany or any European country. He never talked to a camp survivor, guard, or liberator. Most of his research was drawn from well-known Holocaust denier Arthur Butz' The Hoax of the Twentieth Century and similar writings by Thies Christophersen, author of The Auschwitz Lie. (Lipstadt 1993; Hoffman 1995; Takahama 1995;).  He never did original research or "investigation."

The Response and Protests

The "No Nazi Gas Chambers" article in Marco Polo was published 50 years to the month marking the liberation of Auschwitz. Ironically, the camp complex at Dachau was liberated by the nisei Japanese-American forces of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, a unit of the famous 442nd "Go For Broke" Regimental Combat Team, who had made a recent celebrated visit to Japan to "talk story" about their experiences (Chang, 1991; Dan 1995).

 On the day of publication (January 20 in Japan, January 19 in the United States), Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, protested to Takakazu Kuriyama, Japanese ambassador to the United States and asked the Japanese government to publicly condemn the article:

It is almost beyond belief that the magazine Marco Polo would present to the Japanese public a ten-page essay which seeks to deny the murderous gassings of Jews at the Auschwitz death camp . . .. Under the guise of a serious investigation, the author has simply repeated outrageous fabrications of Holocaust deniers to create his 'new historic truth.

Mr. Ambassador, this article is more than a cruel joke. It is a monstrous attack on history and the innocent victims of Nazism that slanders an entire people. It was timed to appear at the very moment that world leaders gather at Auschwitz . . . to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of that death factory and the innocents who were systematically murdered there.

For the survivors of the Holocaust, the Marco Polo article is akin to a public denial of the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima and the death and suffering which is wrought on the Japanese people.

          . . . We hope that the government of Japan will publicly condemn through the appropriate Japanese governmental agency, the views expressed by these hate mongers (1995a).

Israeli Embassy First Secretary Arie Dan filed an oral protest on January 20 with the Japan Foreign Ministry. Dan said he was particularly upset with this article because "Marco Polo was the mainstream press. Usually such articles are a marginal phenomenon, limited to the fringe press. Not this time." Dan was also shocked by the sensational ads for the February issue and the "No Gas Chambers" story hung throughout the subway and rail systems. "Millions saw it -- statements that 'There were no gas chambers. Jews are lying.' Dan was also aware of the target audience of Marco Polo, the affluent, but historically naive young adult. "This would be the only source of their knowledge about the Holocaust," he complained.  He visited the Marco Polo offices on January 20 and demanded a retraction, but was rebuffed. After meeting with deputy editor Seigo Kimata, Dan said, "The man did not react. He did not apologize."  Dan said he went to the magazine expecting the usual response -- "an apology and a subsequent article laying out historical facts. In the past, editors have said 'Oh, we're only printing the author's view. We didn't know the other side. Please write your own article and we'll print it in the next issue.'" (1995)

Former journalist and Israeli Embassy spokesman Takigawa said Marco Polo Editor "Hanada acted as if this was breaking news -- the first time such facts had been revealed. He wouldn't back down. That was very unusual" (1995). Hanada went a step further and publicly defended the article, telling the Associated Press  "It's not good for everything about a certain subject to be taboo. Maybe Israelis and Japanese have different ways of thinking about that"        (1995).

The Japanese Foreign Ministry responded to the Israeli Embassy protest by calling the article "extremely improper." Kunihiko Saito, vice foreign minister, said, "The government thinks that the content gravely lacks consideration and is extremely improper." The Japanese Embassy in the United States responded to the Simon Wiesenthal Center protest by saying "We strongly oppose any form of discrimination whatsoever." (Holocaust Denial 1995). Foreign Ministry Spokesman Terusuke Terada said it is "very important to help deepen in Japan an accurate understanding of the tragic history of the Holocaust of Jews in Europe. We trust that the Japanese people will exercise a sound judgment, based on historical perspectives, of whatever they read" (Associated Press 1995).

Rabbi Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center said:

 We never contacted Marco Polo. That was my call. The editors of the magazine wrote a lead-in to the article that was an endorsement, saying 'Finally the last taboo has been broken.' So we decided there was nothing to say to them. We'd been through the whole cycle before: outrage, apology, new outrage, new apology, like with the anti-Semitic book ads in the Nikkei.

We found out about the article right after the Kobe earthquake. Because of that, I felt on a moral level, because so many people were trying to find out about their families and loved ones, it was inappropriate for us to badger the Japanese Embassy and Consulate here. So I sent one letter. But I wanted to find a way to get out of the outrage-apology cycle (1995c).

So Cooper turned up the heat by asking several international corporations, whose advertisements appeared in the February Marco Polo issue, to boycott the magazine. The request to ³ . . . immediately decide to stop all future advertising in Marco Polo, a publication which sadly has chosen the path of hate mongering" (1995b) went to Microsoft, Philip Morris, Philips Electronics, Cartier, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen. The latter three pulled their ads over a period of January 23-30, adding to the pressure on Bungei. Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech responded:

³ . . . I am also appalled and angered by the irresponsible statements made in the article . . .. The tragedy of the holocaust and of the war must never again be repeated. Please let me assure you that Volkswagen has taken all the steps required to cease advertising in the Japanese magazine Marco Polo until the incident has been unambiguously clarified" (1995).

Taizo Yokoyama of Mitsubishi released a statement that concluded "Mitsubishi Motors of Japan has decided to cease advertising in the Japanese magazine 'Marco Polo' until the incident has been clarified" (1995).

The "clarification" came quickly. Bungei Shunju would shutter Marco Polo.

Demise of Marco Polo

Bungei Shunju President Kengo Tanaka announced on January 30, 1995, that the company would shut down Marco Polo and, effective the previous Friday (January 27), all unsold copies of the February issue had been recalled. "We came to know of the very deep pain and agony inflicted by the Marco Polo article," Tanaka said. "It was as if we were hit by an iron club in having our eyes opened" (Watanabe, 1995). Tanaka gave few details of the extreme decision to close the magazine, but said, "After rereading the article, we found it had a superficial understanding of Jewish issues and lacked fairness. On reflection, we decided to discontinue the publication" (Hoffman 1995).

Tanaka confessed to Rabbi Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center:

The article in question was written by a civilian Japanese who took a view inconsistent with solidly documented facts about the mass murder of Jews and others in the gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps during World War II. His essay was based on the discredited writing of a small number of historical revisionists in Europe and the United States who assert the Holocaust did not take place.

   . . . We regret very deeply that the article has caused immeasurable pain not only to Jews who have suffered more than enough, but also to millions of others dedicated to truth and decency. We fully realize that no apology can fully undo the damage that has been done (1995).

Tanaka held a subsequent news conference, February 2, with Cooper, who flew to Tokyo, to show conciliation and promised, "We will set up stronger checking procedures and an ombudsman system" to avoid future errors (Karasaki, 1995). Tadashi Saito, a Bungei spokesman, added "All the editors and workers of Bungei Shunju accept the responsibility for publishing this biased article (which shows) the low understanding among Japanese about the Jewish people and the victims of Nazi camps" (Pollack 1995).

The Marco Polo staff, Tanaka announced, would be dispersed among the other Bungei publications, but editor Kazuyoshi Hanada would be moved to a non-publishing position in the company's historic research and archives section. Tanaka took a self-imposed six-month pay cut and Bungei Supervising Editor Nobumitsu Sakai took a three-month cut. Tanaka resigned the title of president, but maintained his status as company chairman (Bungeishunju Executives 1995).

Tanaka distanced the publishing house from the Marco Polo editors and at the same time pledged Bungei's sincerity in finding accommodation with Rabbi Cooper and the Wiesenthal Center when writing to Cooper:

Regrettably, the editors of 'Marco Polo', lacking proper perception regarding a wide range of matters relating to Jewish history, published the article, wrongly believing that it represented 'a new set of facts hitherto undisclosed in Japan.'

That such an article was published not only points up a serious problem with the editors of 'Marco Polo', but also reflects an overall lack of understanding on the part of Bungei Shunju Ltd., regarding the Holocaust and the historical facts surrounding this outrage against humanity.

  . . . Japanese history and culture are so widely different and removed from those of the Jews that a proper perception of the realities involving the Jewish people will be possible here only through an extensive educational effort with the assistance of organizations such as yours. In this program we invite your guidance (1995).

Hanada was not allowed to attend the news conference announcing the killing of Marco Polo, nor would he comment later, other than to say that although he found the decision extreme, he would accept it. Tokyo journalists saw Hanada's lateral move as tantamount to a firing. Although he was given a desk and salary, he had very few duties and was regarded as a pariah in the publishing house. It was expected he would wait a "face saving" period and resign and move on (Takigawa, 1995). He shortly began appearing on television as a commentator.

The killing of the magazine surprised not only Hanada, but also the major critics of the "No Gas Chambers" article. "We only demanded that the magazine take responsibility and apologize. We never demanded that it be abolished," said Dan of the Israeli Embassy (1995), echoed by Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center, "I was shocked!"  (1995c).

Dan feels the Marco Polo case was not handled well and suspects more was going on behind the scenes at Bungei Shunju than concern about advertiser boycotts. Takigawa and other journalists in Japan confirm there were several internal power plays as well as external pressures -- not all of them economic.

Behind the Headlines

Was the death of Marco Polo the contemporary extension of some kind of samurai code -- ritual suicide as abject apology and restoration of the "family" honor -- in this case the Bungei Shunju publishing family? While those elements are certainly present on the surface, a deeper investigation reveals this extreme action rose out of an inability to handle the external pressures on Bungei, and at the same time as a solution to the internal pressures the company faced.

Several journalists in Japan report that Marco Polo had been the source of economic and political strife within Bungei Shunju. The magazine had become a drain on the publishing house's resources. Because of the heavy emphasis on photos and graphics, Marco Polo had been expensive to produce, but had yet to show a profit after three years. The magazine went through several redesigns, first in an attempt to boost sales, later to cut costs.

A year earlier Bungei had moved Kazuyoshi Hanada, a well-known and respected journalist, to the editor's post. Hanada had been the top editor at Bungei's Shukan Bunshun, bringing that magazine to the top in weekly magazine sales through several news scoops and exclusives, such as sumo wrestler and national hero Takanohana's engagement to a popular actress. Under Hanada¹s editorship, the Shukan Bunshun also ran the offending ad for The Jewish Protocols for World Domination. Hanada continued to deliver "sensational," but well-documented reports in Marco Polo, such as the expose of a "sex island" off the coast of Japan, frequented by high government officials to enjoy the services of prostitutes. Nishioka had tried to sell his ³No Gas Chambers² story to numerous publishers, who universally rejected it. Hanada became interested because of the sarin gassing in the small mountain community of Matsumoto that investigators would later link to the Aum Shinrikyo cult as a practice run for their eventual Tokyo subway attack (Kaplan, 1996).

"I subscribed to Marco Polo because its articles challenged a lot toward so-called taboo topic for the mainstream Japanese publishing industry," said Naomi Uzumi, an advertising executive. "In the past, Marco Polo featured stories about cults in Japan.  It was interesting to read. But this controversial feature about Nazi, I thought it was taishitakoto-nai -- not so

worthy reading" (1995).

The earlier stories made Hanada popular in the investigative journalism community, but not in the staid and conservative editorial departments of his own company's other magazines, particularly the mainstay literary journals. This is not unique to Bungei. In Japanese journalism, investigative journalism falls to magazines. It is rarely done in daily newspapers, whose reporting is often constrained by their journalists' memberships in kisha kurabu, or press clubs, which put self-imposed limits on the flow of news from government and business. In exchange for regular briefings and access to news sources, the newspaper reporters agree to withhold certain news and not to pursue "news scoops" in competition with each other. As a result, newspaper journalism in Japan tends to be both homogenous and flaccid among the national dailies. (Yamamoto, 1989; Japanese Mass Media, 1994). The "mainstream" press were aware of the "sex island" story, for example, but refused to report on it (Kaplan, 1995).

Some newspapers publish their own magazines to print, at arms length, the kinds of stories they can't in their own columns. Work on these magazines is considered "second class," at best, among the journalistic elite. Although immensely popular, hard-hitting, and sometimes precipitating reforms, investigative magazine journalism is looked down upon by traditional editors, even in the magazine trade. Heuvel and Dennis quote a mainstream newspaper senior editor: "We believe in covering politicians from the waist up. What they do from the waist down is generally none of our business" (1993, 82). The "waist down," sometimes literally, has become the central business of the investigative magazines.

Investigative magazines, such as Marco Polo, do not belong to industry associations, which exert a considerable degree of standard setting and regulatory control, such as the Nihon Shinbun Kyokai, or Japanese Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association, does on newspapers. The lack of an industry association contributes to a free-for-all in the editing and marketing of magazines, often marked by exaggerated and misleading claims. Hanada "fell into the common pitfall of Japanese magazine reporting and ran anything that looked good, without worrying about the facts. They are willing to run almost any story, no matter how irresponsible it is, as long as it boost sales. In addition, they will run almost any story as long as it is written in Japanese under an 'island mentality'" (Takahama, 1995). The sensational bent in stories is exacerbated by excesses in marketing them. David Kaplan is a highly regarded investigative journalist whose book The Yakuza is considered the definitive study of Japanese organized crime. While Marco Polo was running, and promoting, the "No Gas Chambers" article, Kaplan's series on psychological warfare conducted by the United States Information Service in the 1950s and 1960s was running in Views magazine, the flagship monthly of Kodansha, one the top three publishers in Japan. "Even those solid reports would get headlines (translated into ad placards) that absolutely lied about the contents. It's pure hype and typical of Japanese magazine publishing" (Kaplan, 1995).

Dan, Kaplan, Takigawa, and other journalists also point to an insular mindset of Japanese journalists that hold a general assumption that what they write won't be read outside of Japan, particularly if written in Japanese, and so would face no challenge. Isuki Iwata, Los Angeles bureau chief for The Yomiuri Shimbun writes "The (Marco Polo) incident . . . reveals that the logics of Japanese society does not always apply in the international community" (1995). Tatou Takahama, a senior fellow at the Yomiuri Research Institute, writes, "The publisher may have thought the controversy would not spread overseas since Marco Polo is a Japanese-language magazine" (1995).

The protests over the "No Gas Chamber" article were not the first, nor isolated, objections to content that Bungei had to face. The publishing house had been amassing an embarrassing number of complaints and apologies (Morgan, 1995). In the last two years Bungei publicly apologized to Japan Railways and to the Imperial Family for inaccurate reporting. Shukan Bunshun publicly apologized for cruel references to sufferers of autism. Bungei was also smarting from criticism over a previous revisionist World War II article by a former education minister that argued "the Rape of Nanjing didn't violate international law" (Sakamaki, 1995). And Bungei was also reminded in the course of the Marco Polo criticism that its subsidiary book publishing arm had published a leading  "Jewish Conspiracy" book, The Jewish World Empire's Plot to Invade Japan (Sutel, 1995). Bungei has a reputation of being "rightist" in Japanese politics. The "No Gas Chambers" article opened up a new round of criticism of all rightists and revisionist government policies, such as the reluctance to apologize for World War II excesses, by such "leftist" publications as the powerful daily Asahi newspaper, also owner of TV-Asahi, which treated the controversy as major news (Dan, 1995).

The pressures inside the publishing house were mounting. Hanada was viewed as an out-of-control editor who did not fit the conservative Bungei profile. The financial failure of Marco Polo was draining resources from other editors' magazines and projects. Bungei found itself as an unwitting avenue for political attacks on its conservative government friends and in the process being held up to ridicule by competing news agencies. Bungei was becoming isolated. Government officials and publishing colleagues were distancing themselves from the company. The intense criticism and protests from the "No Gas Chambers" article were staining Bungei internally, domestically, internationally -- and economically.

Advertiser boycotts are virtually unknown in Japan. Just as publishers often distance themselves from criticism of individual articles by crediting all claims to the authors, advertisers take no responsibility for the content of the magazines in which they advertise. The moral arguments of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, however, overrode the traditional distance. The appeal was particularly felt by Volkswagen, a German company, and Mitsubishi, an auto and electronic conglomerate with international sales. Although Mitsubishi and Volkswagen stated publicly they would withdraw all advertising from Marco Polo, the threat extended to all Bungei publications. Guy Ley Marie of Cartier Japan, Ltd., was specific: ³ . . . we have stopped immediately all the advertisement programs with this magazine and the others from this publisher" (1995) Rabbi Cooper said he was told that media buyers in Japan for these international advertisers told Bungei officials "clean this up, or we're out of here completely -- out of all Bungei publications," (1995c).

"The lawyers for Bungei just couldn't handle negotiations on such a scale and in such a short time. The Japanese prefer drawing out negotiations. This came on them too much and too fast," says Arie Dan of the Israeli Embassy. "If they only had to deal with Mitsubishi, they could have come to a 'Japanese-style' accord. But they had to deal with international corporations as well. And Bungei used the same lawyers to handle the protests from the (Israeli) Embassy, passed through the Japanese Foreign Ministry.  They were overwhelmed" (1995). Added Rabbi Cooper, "It dawned on me . . . we pushed buttons more profoundly than we had ever assumed. We were impacting the lives of people in such expanded ways." (1995c).

The "Japanese-style" resolution Dan refers to is described by sociologist Takeshi Ishida as the uchi-soto and omote-ura dimensions of Japanese conflict resolution and accommodation. Uchi-soto is literally "in-out" and omote-ura "front-back."  Ishida's paradigm places relationships horizontally in terms of in- and out-groups, and vertically in terms of formality and authority that comes with rank, each with flexible boundaries. Conflicts can be resolved or accommodated by encompassing adversaries within the "insider" group, or by relaxing the formal distance between superior and inferior, or by a combination of boundary flexing. Ishida's paradigm is graphically portrayed as (1984, 17):


Omote (surface or formal arena)

Ura (background or informal arena)

(conflict among in-group members)

No conflict should exist

Conflict does exist but is usually solved implicitly.

 (conflict with outsiders)

No concession should be made

Negotiation is possible if neither party loses face and both can maintain integrity.

In Ishida's paradigm, Bungei Shunju's internal conflict, including negotiations with Mitsubishi, would be placed in the uchi-ura stage and solved there, most likely through staff realignment at Marco Polo. But the publishing house was unable to simultaneously handle the soto-ura dimension of conflict with "outsiders" in dealing with the multiple demands of the Israeli Embassy, the Wiesenthal Center and the international advertisers. Bungei's first response was, in fact, in the omote-soto dimension of denying a response to the Israeli Embassy's request for apology and corrective article. The ideal stage, according to Ishida, is omote-uchi, where all elements of the conflict can come into harmony and -- just as important -- all be considered "insiders" to prevent future conflict by working toward common goals.

The shuttering of Marco Polo certainly accomplished the omote-uchi goal by short-circuiting all other stages of the process. Although the Wiesenthal Center had not asked for the magazine to be cut off, Bungei Chairman Tanaka invited the Center's Rabbi Abraham Cooper to stand by him at the press conference announcing not only Marco Polo's demise, but also an educational seminar series for all Bungei journalists on Jewish history, culture, and international relations. Bungei and the Wiesenthal Center were effectively turned from adversaries to partners, and the Center an "insider" in Bungei's uchi-soto dimension. By embracing the Wiesenthal Center, Bungei eliminated any need to continue dealing directly with the Israeli Embassy and indirectly with the Foreign Ministry. Since the advertising boycott was at the behest of the Wiesenthal Center, it was called off by Cooper without the need for Bungei to deal directly with the disaffected advertisers.

Could all of this have been accomplished without Bungei's corporate serving up of the head of Marco Polo to placate its adversaries? Perhaps. But balancing internal realignments with external concessions would have left the publishing house wounded in image in the publishing and political worlds and continuing to hemorrhage money with a financially and journalistically damaged product. The decision to kill Marco Polo put the control of the headlines, and through them the reputation of the company, back in Bungei's hands. Bungei Shunju lost a magazine, but no face.

But did the death of Marco Polo for the "No Gas Chambers" article signify a change in Japanese attitudes toward the Jews? The reviews are mixed.

Aftermath: Education or New Life for a Conspiracy?

Marco Polo has become a double-edged legacy in Japanese publishing. The high-profile news coverage of the Marco Polo incident did much to educate Japanese readers about Jews and Jewish history, citing historic record of the Holocaust and the lack of any record for the various "Jewish Conspiracy" theories. But at the same time, the author of "No Gas Chambers," Masanori Nishioka, outraged by the killing off of Marco Polo because of his article, told reporters he felt "deep anger" that rather than challenging his ideas with debate, the forum for any debate was cut off. He claimed the "Jewish lobby used the ads to kill Marco Polo, and Bungei Shunju gave in" (Sakamaki, 1995). Nishioka later published a book expanding on his Holocaust denial theories, and accusing Bungei Shunju of ruining his reputation by closing Marco Polo. Since they accepted his article, Nishioka reasoned, they should have defended him. (Schreiber, 1998). Nishioka voiced what many Japanese, including journalists, openly believe: The Marco Polo incident is yet more evidence of Jewish control over Japanese life.

David Goodwin, writing in the Asahi Evening News, reports:

The closure only appears to prove what anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists say is true, that the Jews want to control the world. When I asked some of my Japanese friends why they thought Marco Polo was closed down they said it was because Jewish people controlled most of the banks, media outlets and other institutions in the United States, stating this as if were fact (1995).

Arie Dan of the Israeli Embassy is concerned about this double effect, but admits others don't share his worries. "Others, like Rabbi Cooper, say it's a good thing -- a strong signal to the Japanese media that you can't publish such stories. If they want to think it's because we're powerful, that's fine. The important thing is to stop the stories" (1995).  Tomoo Ishida, professor of Jewish History at Tsukuba University, predicts Cooper will be right. "Major publishing houses will be careful how they handle Jewish issues in the future because they are afraid of ad boycotts" (Sakamaki, 1995). Naomi Uozumi of the Asahi Tsuushin-sha advertising agency in Tokyo said,  "The incident reminded me of the big power of sponsors against Japanese press" (1995).

Cooper also said he hoped his seminar series on the Holocaust and Jewish society with Bungei editors and officials would influence future reporting: "I feel optimistic . . .. There is no environment of hate (toward Jews) in Japan. But it does have enormous stereotypes" (Karasaki, 1995).  "For whatever reason, anti-Semitism sells. The challenge is understanding why it sells and what we can do to change that" (Sutel 1995).

Many journalists do not share Cooper's optimism. The Yomiuri Research Institute's Takahama wrote, "While I applaud (Bungei President) Tanaka's action, I do not think the irresponsible attitude of Bungei Shunju, showed by publishing the article in the first place will be corrected just by closing down one magazine" (1995).  David Goodwin, in the Asahi Evening News, agrees:

Committing ritual magazine suicide because an editor made a grave error does nothing to inform the Japanese people about a subject that desperately needs to be discussed here. Most Japanese know virtually nothing about Jews and Jewish history and I think that the most responsible action for Marco Polo to have taken would have been to set the record straight. But it can't now, the magazine is dead, and so is the issue (1995).

Echoing Takahama and Goodwin, Hajime Takano, editor in chief of the internet-based Insider, writes, "In choosing the most simple way out of the problem Bungei Shunju has committed suicide twice over" (1995).

Arie Dan admits the killing of Marco Polo has had a positive impact in at least one aspect of his work. "Whereas protests over (anti-Semitic book) ads were met with indifference, now the newspapers are calling and asking for review and comment." The Yomiuri Shimbun called him regarding such an ad, Dan reported. He told the newspaper it was definitely anti-Semitic. "Yomiuri refused to run it. But that's now," he cautions. In six months or a year, they'll stop calling and another article or ad will appear somewhere else. We need education, not sanctions" (1995).

Rabbi Cooper holds that his seminar series produced some "person-to-person, real contacts. We discussed not only Holocaust history, but the standards of journalism. When one of the editors stood and asked 'why didn't you just send us this information and we would have published it,' I replied 'It was your job as editor to check out the information you had. Why didn't you do your job? What was done wasn't journalism.' "

Cooper said the timing of the May seminar series, immediately after the arrest of Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara in the subway sarin gas attack, drove home the point. "When I showed them a canister of Zyklon-B, they wanted to touch it, to sniff it. Gas chambers became very clear after the Aum attack" (1995c).

Three years later, the effects of the Marco Polo closing could still be felt. A database search of Tokyo newspaper articles in both Japanese and English show no entries on stories about Jews or Jewish conspiracies. Major bookstores feature titles in their Yudayajin section such as Light One Candle: A Survivor¹s Tale from Lithuania to Jerusalem, The Holocaust Oral History Project, the memoirs of Yitzak Rabin, and Alan Dershowitz¹ Chutzpah. Major bookstores in Tokyo, including Maruzen and Kinokuniya, could not locate any of Uno¹s conspiracy texts. Uno has discovered a new, profitable focus in astrology-based end-of-the-world tracts. A 10-storey banner drapes the Ginza¹s Hankyu department store advertising an international touring company production of ³Fiddler on the Roof.² An academic journal, Namal, has emerged, publishing the writings of the Japanese Jewish Friendship and Study Society, a group based in Kyoto of university professors studying Jewish culture.

Ernest Salomon, president of the Tokyo Jewish Community Center, feels comfortable with the subsequent press and publishing house behavior. ³Before, we would complain to publishers and they would listen with only half an ear. But after Marco Polo, they realized this could be big trouble and they stopped.² Salomon said the Center¹s Anti-Defamation Committee was consulted by several newspapers who followed the group¹s suggestions and rejected several anti-Semitic book advertisements. ³The goal of the Anti-Defamation Committee is to go out of business. We are hoping we finally will,² he said (Salomon, 1998).

Salomon and members of the Center¹s Anti-Defamation Committee also reported a marked reduction in harassment of the Center by right-wing groups who would park swastika-draped sound trucks outside, blasting German martial music and recorded speeches of Hitler (1998).

The near elimination of Jewish conspiracy publications following Marco Polo is significant because the Japanese economy continued to fall into recession during the following three-year period. Journalists in Tokyo reported that criticisms and fears over the economy broke through the shrouds of conspiracy into open anger, directed at the Finance Ministry and internal government, rather than at shadowy outside forces.

The intercultural success, however, is measured more by the unwillingness to join another battle, rather than by the willingness to embrace diversity. No news may be good news in this case. But it is still no news.  The Jewish Community Center in the Tokyo ward of Hiroo set aside a room for the press in its library, containing Japanese-language reference materials on Judaism, and conducted special programs on Jewish history and culture. The response was minimal, however, and the pressroom was closed (Schreiber, 1998).

Although Bungei Shunju editors and journalists attended the Rabbi Cooper-conducted seminars in Tokyo, and several of them toured the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, they wrote no articles about the experience for Bungei publications. One magazine, Weekly Gendai,² covered the Cooper seminars, but its article was critical of both Cooper and Bungei, calling the seminars brainwashing sessions and accusing Cooper of extorting money from Bungei for the Center¹s Holocaust Museum. Another magazine, Bubka, continued to carry some anti-Semitic columns, but dropped them after repeated protests from the Jewish Community Center and Israeli Embassy. A third magazine, the monthly Hoseki, recently ran a series of articles on a ³foreign financial mafia² by long-time anti-Semitic writer Hirose Takashi that resurrects the standard conspiracism, attacking Goldman-Sachs, the Lehman Brothers, the Rothschilds and others, but all mention of Yudaya ­ Jews ­ were conspicuously removed by the publisher.   (Schreiber, 1998; Takigawa, 1998).

Takigawa of the Israeli Embassy joins Salomon in enjoying the nearly three-year respite from anti-Semitic articles, books and advertisements. But he is concerned that a new generation of anti-Semitic thought may be emerging. At Kawaijuko, a network of preparatory schools in Nagoya, a recent lecture series on the 21st century as the era of information was based on the premise that Jews control the media and channels of information. Jews are avoiding real issues of world hunger and diminishing food resources by distracting audiences with pronouncements that information is the most important commodity. According to the lecturer, this is because Jews do not produce agricultural products, and so want to divert investments into the mass and telecommunication industries they control (Takigawa, 1998).


As is typical of conspiracy theories, the Yudayajin conspiracism in Japanese publishing targets no particular Jews as the heads or organizers of the feared cabal. Only their ³agents,² ranging from the U.S. President to pop diva Madonna, are attacked, under the premise that their actions are controlled by shadowy puppeteers in the world domination market. Obtuse symbolism attains the power of fact ­ such as the contention that the reflection of Mt. Fuji in Lake Hakone, as portrayed on the back of the 10,000 yen bill is actually Mt. Sinai ­ when it is published in a book or magazine. Conversely, the accomplishments of actual, individual Jews ­ whether in the arena of finance or war ­ are portrayed as heroic and admirable. 

Such are the contradictions of anti- and philo-Semitism in Japanese publishing. The Marco Polo case, however, shifted the focus of Jewish community response from trying to disprove a negative ­ always problematic ­ to defending a positive and painful set of facts.

The short-term strategies were effective: gaining international attention, support and pressure through an advertising boycott. But this ³Western² confrontational approach was inconsistent and incompatible with Japanese styles of conflict management and resolution. The ignoble death of Marco Polo was the result of the contradictions in intercultural communication styles, and a short-term solution to internal corporate strife growing out of contradictory press styles and values within a ³mainstream² publishing house.

The long-term effects, however, are not as conclusive or dramatic. While few negative references to, or images of, Yudayajin have appeared in the Japanese press, no positive ones have either, to balance a decade of anti-Semitic conspiracism. No news is not necessarily good news, as there are recent indications and incidents in both education and publishing that conspiracism is rerooting, with no positive images to challenge or counteract its growth.

Conspiracism has been the province of books, as it gains credence when draped in the symbolic robes of a scholarly text. Because of the differentiated structure and values of the Japanese press system, conspiracism also has found a place in magazines that are within, or on the periphery, of "mainstream journalism,² giving the articles the cachet of objective truth. An even wider dissemination of conspiracism may come from the Internet and world-wide-web, where websites can easily be constructed to appear as authoritative and scholarly as any university site. The Internet got off to a slower start in Japan, partly because of landline costs and transmission quality, but is quickly catching up. Monitoring and control of web-based communication will undoubtedly prove more difficult than traditional print publishing.

But this implies a continued scenario of almost guerilla-like action of print, attack, recede, and re-emerge. The missing element remains: the disseminating of positive articles and images, a difficult prospect in the face of a publishing philosophy that it is better, and safer, to print nothing. The uchi-soto/omote-ura style of conflict resolution held some promise to transfer the energies of confrontation into collaboration, but that promise has gone unfulfilled. The model is worthy of further study to develop strategies for balancing coverage of Yudayajin working within the structure of the Japanese press system, rather than confronting it through its vulnerable economic flank.

In a repeat of history, another major Japanese publishing house, Shogakukan Inc.,  published an article in its Weekly Post magazine in October 1999 claiming an International Jewish Conspiracy was behind the acquisition of a Japanese bank by a U.S. company. The Simon Wiesenthal Center immediately protested and asked international advertisers to withdraw advertising support unless an apology and correction were made. Unlike Bungei Shunju and Marco Polo, Shogakukan immediately agreed, publishing the apology and correction not only in Weekly Post, but on its website and on advertisements for the magazine in the major Tokyo dailies. Two executives visited theWiesenthal Center and invited a Center representative to conduct workshops for its Tokyo executives and journalists (Ishii 1999).

³Publishers and editors have been reached by the message (of Marco Polo),² said Yoshito Takigawa of the Israeli Embassy, ³but not readers, especially youth. Those who were at the junior high school age during Marco Polo are now reaching high school and the university, when they are most suseptable to conspiracy thinking and cults² (1998).


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[1] NOTE: The reference to both Biblical and Popular Culture icons is meant as ironic: not to create or perpetuate stereotypes, but to comment on the stereotypes that are foundational to the conspiracism that pervades this case study, and continue beyond it.