【PART 2】 The Mystery of Fukushima: Why Japan Cannot Stop Nuclear Power Plants?


28】 The Banality of Evil


As I write this book in 2014, the German film Hannah Arendt (directed by Margarethe von Trotta, 2012) is becoming an unexpected hit in Tokyo. A main character in this movie is a famous female philosopher who observed in 1961 the trial of a war criminal, ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann. She wrote a series of articles about it for The New Yorker, titled “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.” It generated quite a controversy.

The cause of the controversy, her conclusion, was that Eichmann, who commanded the Holocaust, had been “nothing but a normal office drudge.” Nonetheless, the “banality” of the Nazi policy — the “absolute lack of ideology” coupled with “a mechanism of driving people into submission” — brought about the unprecedented crime of, among other things, the Holocaust. I think Japanese people feel that the similarity between the Nazi situation and our own is creepy.

Some essential and simple questions that Arendt asked were:

“Why did Jewish victims of the Holocaust arrive on time at the transportation points, and board the train to the concentration camps?”

“Why did they not protest, but instead went to the slaughter, dug their own graves, undressed and made neat piles of their clothing, and lay down side by side to be shot?” and,

“Fifteen thousand people were standing there and hundreds of guards facing you – why didn’t you revolt and charge and attack?”

These are the very questions Japanese people are asking themselves now.

“Why did we not call to account the political party that caused the worst NPP disaster in human history (LDP) and let it win the election in the following year (2012) with a landslide victory?”

“Why did we turn a blind eye to children’s health damage and let victims go back to radioactive land, and why are we now about to allow operations to be resumed?”

“Why do we not discuss such a ‘mechanism of driving people into submission’ head-on, but instead attack neighbor countries such as South Korea and China hysterically?”

It is about time we discuss the essence of the matter, looking back through history.