Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Is the Pacifism of Germany and Japan Permanent?

In the first half of the twentieth century, Germany and Japan were the world’s most violent and warlike nations. The Germans wanted to dominate Europe, and the Japanese were intent on dominating Asia. But when they were defeated in the Second World War, they lost their appetite for warfare and became pacific.

Germany was broken into two parts—the Eastern part went under Soviet control and the Western part under American control. While Japan was not broken up, two of its industrial cities (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) were nuked, and other cities were extensively firebombed. After 1960, both nations have made an amazing economic and political recovery. In 1968, Japan became the world’s second largest economy, after the USA—it retained this status till 2010, when China raced ahead to become the second largest economy. The two halves of Germany were united in 1990, and the reunited country became the driver of European politics. Neither of the two nations has so far made an attempt to rekindle their violent and warlike character. They continue to be pacific, preferring to use diplomacy, not military power, to resolve their geopolitical problems. 

The transformation in the national culture of Germany and Japan, after the Second World War, was sudden. Such sudden cultural transformations are generally short-lived. Pacifism might not be as deeply rooted in the German and Japanese mind as it is in the Indian (Hindu) mind that has been exposed to pacifist ideologies and religions (Buddhism, Jainism, and other movements) for more than 3000 years. A violent and warlike nature could be simmering beneath the surface in the German and Japanese societies, and in the 21st century, these two societies could undergo another cultural transformation. They might discard their pacifism and become warlike.

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