Popular Gusts on the turn-of-the-century Japanese spin operation

Matt of the blog ‘Gusts of Popular Feeling‘ has produced two excellent posts in a row on apologist views of Japan’s colonisation of Korea. The latest one specifically concerns Japan’s ‘cultivation of foreign apologists’ during its bid to gain control over the Korean peninsula, using what one contemporary commentator called a “carefully organized […] claque in Europe and America, especially in America.”

It’s a fascinating look at what the Japanese government were up to that raises one particular question in my mind: how did they learn so quickly to be masters of spin and successfully develop an influential lobby in the ‘West’. (Arguably, Japan still manages to benefit from a certain sort of untouchable ‘cool’ status among many people in Europe and the US, although not so much the generation that remembers WWII). I guess that one answer to this question is that the arguments used by the Japanese government and promoted by their foreign friends were the exact same ones being used by European governments about their colonial possessions or by the US about the Philippines (ie the natives can’t look after themselves and must be saved by us). It wasn’t hard to find a model for propaganda and it wasn’t hard to convince people in other parts of the world of its rightfulness as they already believed it.

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