Yoroku: Misguided patriotism an assault on national welfare, common sense
There is perhaps nothing that expresses one's deep love for one's country more than a devotion to the country's language. One such person, for example, was Fumihiko Otsuki, who edited the first modern Japanese dictionary, "Genkai," literally meaning "a sea of words." He stumped Meiji government officials by pointing out a grammatical error in the Imperial Rescript on Education soon after it was issued in 1890; undoubtedly, however, he loved his country.
The first full-scale English dictionary -- in two volumes -- was written single-handedly by 18th-century English man of letters Samuel Johnson in just three years. The modern French dictionary, by contrast, is said to have taken 40 members of the French Academy 40 years to complete. On this, Johnson quipped: "40 times 40 is 1600. As three to 1600, so is the proportion of an Englishman to a Frenchman."
England compensated great achievements with pensions, but Johnson was reluctant to accept his. Johnson had written in his dictionary that "pension" was "generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country."
Johnson is also known to have said: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." Apparently, "patriotism" and the act of loving one's country are not necessarily the same thing.
I was reminded of Johnson's quote upon witnessing the outrageous acts of anti-Japanese activists who illegally landed on one of the Senkaku Islands and were arrested by Japanese authorities. These activists are trying to foment anti-Japanese sentiment among the Chinese, and destroy the Japanese-Chinese relationship of mutual dependence.
There's not much to that kind of patriotism.
From time immemorial, everywhere in the world, groups have called for an exclusive kind of patriotism, and instead of loving one's country, have shown zeal in calling their domestic political enemies traitors and wresting power away from them.
We must somehow contain the efforts of those trying to create waves from their "refuge." We must not drive those who truly love their countries and know that without a stable Japan-China relationship, there is no mutual prosperity, into a corner. ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
August 17, 2012(Mainichi Japan)