Thursday, August 25, 2016


Interested in learning more about China?

No need to go further than your local bookstore if you live in Japan. There you will find books of all kinds about the giant, mysterious neighbor on the other side of the sea.

The China section in large Japanese bookstores is appropriately rich in offerings, with books old and new telling the story of the rise and fall of ancient empires and the ebb and flow of modern Sino-Japanese relations. There are scholarly books on history, philosophy, religion, poetry, the arts, and the art of war.  Journalistic tomes focus on stories in the news, others claim to have the "real" story behind stories in the news.  The three T's; namely  Taiwan, Tibet and Tiananmen offer ample room for tweaking China's weak points, but other writers focus on the alarming strength of China's economy, military and diplomatic push.

Not surprising, given the ephemeral nature of selling topical books, many of the titles reflect recent political tensions. While the books on eternal China, its culture, cuisine, literature and history can still be found under history and other headings, the pride of bookshelf space goes to politics.

"Sun Zi: the best guide to military strategy"
by Moriya Hiroshi

"Japan and China Reversal of Fortune"
-The bubble of 2014-
by Kondo Daisuke

Judging from the eye-catching placement of books about China in Kyoto's Ogaki Bookstore,  located up front and center near the sales counter, brisk sales are the norm for books on the troubled Sino-Japanese relationship. Bilateral tension sells.

China-bashing books dominate the shelves, shouting for attention with shocking catch copy and provocative  covers, which in one way or another wrestle with the startling rise of China and what Japan should do about it. One need only to browse a short while to realize that interest in China is high. Some of the books are as topical as newspapers, so quickly-slapped together books that they have a decidedly tabloid quality. Several of the more provocative offerings are nothing more than transcribed conversations among opinionated China pundits and rambling rants of self-styled experts. Sitting side by side with the impatient, screaming tabloid style books, the political section of the bookstore also offers a number of thoughtful scholarly tomes that examine Japan's unease with its big neighbor. 

The lion's share of the new paperbacks published in 2014 reflect contemporary concerns and mostly deal with recent developments still simmering in the news. They hit the shelves at a time of declining trust and diminished respect between the two East Asia giants, reflecting the doubt, uncertainty and deep chill that has set in due to tensions over history and more contemporary military spats (2010, 2102, 2014) over the disputed waters and air space, most especially concerning the sovereignty of Diaoyu/Senkaku islets. 

Add to that the never-ending diplomatic dispute concerning the commemoration of Japan war dead at Yasukuni Shrine, simmering anger about textbook revisions, nagging arguments provoked by Japan's use of slave labor and comfort women, and it's plain to see there's no shortage of hot topics to write about. 

While some of the Japan-slanted coverage of China is sober and hopeful, shedding light on real world problems with an eye to practical solutions, there is an unreal quality to much of revisionist discourse, in which quibbles and doubts about particular statistics and documentation are used to deny wholesale entire chapters of Japan's bloody intervention in China. Chinese Communist failings, which are many by any reckoning, are real enough, though magnified and distorted by hype to paint the entire picture black. To put it simply, many of the writers, including several writers of Chinese descent, see the People's Republic of China as an implacable enemy.

A xenophobic thread runs through many of the titles, as does an essentialist view of Japan's natural superiority. There is a flavor-of-the-month quality to some of the publications, based on recorded discussions among self-styled pundits and rather hastily slapped together, suggesting a marriage of convenience between the dramatic flair of China-bashers and the pressure to publish at a profit. There's undoubtedly a marketing advantage that accrues to tabloid schlock and shocking exposes, and titles that proclaim a sky-is-falling crisis concerning Japan's relationship to China are designed to pique interest.

Given the predominance of trenchant critiques that dominate the bookstore offerings on China, the hapless Japanese reader unfamiliar with China could be forgiven for thinking that it was the worst country in the world.  Books on offer do not necessarily enlighten, in many cases they may serve instead to reinforce received prejudices. Some titles fall just short of being a call to arms, a clarion call to be vigilant about the monstrous neighbor across the sea.

To paraphrase Sunzi, or Sonshi, whose classic gems of strategic thought continue to command great respect in Japan,  one goes to the bookstore both to learn about one's enemy and one's self.

Many hours were spent browsing the shelves of other well-stocked bookstores in Tokyo and Kyoto, including branches of big national chains such as Kinokuniya and Tsutaya during April and May 2014, when I was conducting research as an Abe Journalist Fellow.

Below is a sampling of China-themed books, all of which could be found on the shelves of Ogaki, a bustling bookstore located next to Starbucks on the corner of Sanjo/Karasuma in downtown Kyoto. A similar range and array of books can be found in other commercial bookstores, who deal with the same publishers and promote many of the same titles.

"Sangokushi"  Three Kingdoms manga
by Yokoyama Mitsuteru

As has long been the case, one can still find books touting the precious wisdom of China, especially ancient China. Sangoku-shi, or the "History of the Three Kingdoms" is an example of timeless lore from yesteryear's China that continues to attract readers, both for the immense fun of it, and as a key to understanding the underpinnings of East Asian statecraft. Ancient China holds a special place in the Japanese imagination, not unlike ancient Greece and Rome do in the West. As can be seen from other books on the shelf, most of which are pointed criticisms of the People's Republic of China, modern China is not accorded the same warm embrace and profound respect as the China of classical lore.

Books on eternal, ethereal China of ages past will probably always have a place in Japan where so much of the traditional culture has undeniably Chinese roots, but the bulk of books on China these days are belligerent tomes about a country that can't be trusted, ranging from diatribes calling for a cut off of relations, to journalistic accounts of communist mismanagement; from accounts of cruel human rights abuses to accusations of deceit and unfair trade practices.

Taiwan is an exception to the rule, which begs the thorny question of what constitutes China. Taiwan  is set apart from China in the public mind in Japan in part due to its status as a former Japanese colony, but also because it is a small, enthusiastic trade partner that has shown little capacity or desire to hurt or humiliate Japan. The reception of Japan is Taiwan is part of this equation as well. Taiwan is perhaps unique among Japan's former colonial holdings as a place where Japan is not only not a bad word, but a quasi-fraternal kind of big brother to be emulated.

Taiwan-Japan relations were shored up during the Cold War and even now it enjoys sufficient isolation from the political currents sweeping mainland China to be a world unto its own.  Even to the extent that Taiwan is recognized as essentially Chinese, it is seen as a kinder, gentler version of China, at least as seen from Japan. Although outside the scope of this review, Japanese authors find much to like in Taiwan, and there are some Chinese authors as well, mostly hailing from Taiwan, who are sufficiently exasperated with China to argue on Japan's side. Bicultural pundits who can lay claim to a clear-eyed insider's view about the "true nature" of China that just happens to agree with prevailing views in Japan are in great demand in the media. Courted by Japanese broadcasters and publishers alike, especially if their Japanese is fluent, they are trotted out on TV and news programs to argue  Japan's side in any number of disputes.

The arrangement of eye-catching China paperbacks in the front of Ogaki Bookstore, filed under the heading “Politics and International Relations” are of interest both as an indicator of what sells (China-bashing sells) and what readers are worried about (China eclipsing Japan).

Here, front and center in the highly competitive, highly market-tuned world of books, where production costs are high and shelf space costly, the China threat is practically jumping off the shelves, fired up by tabloid-style catch copy and eye-catching cover art. Even the pretense of fair and objective reporting is abandoned in many of the tomes where an outspoken celebrity or self-styled China expert makes a raucous rant or cry for attention in the cacophonous world of China commentary.

Recent book titles touch on territorial disputes, historical disputes, nationalism, imminent economic collapse, social disorder, trade problems, and even war. Some of the editorializing echoes the sloganeering and hot air coming from hyper nationalist politicians. A plethora of books by and about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, oft pictured next the Japanese flag, can be found in ready proximity to the anti-China diatribes. 

When it comes to politics, Japanese nationalism, and a bitter rivalry with China, who better to turn to for inspiration than Prime Minister Abe Shinzo? Abe’s much-photographed face, often shown in real, or photo-shopped proximity to the rising sun flag, adorns many a book, including his latest tome that features a serene Mount Fuji on the cover and a poetic title based what he described in a press conference as a song sung by Indonesians in support of Japan.  "Bloom proudly. O Japan! Bloom in the heart of the world"    (Nihonyo, seikainomanaka de saki hokore.)

"Japan! Be proud of yourself in the 'center of the world!'"
Abe Shinzo and Hyakuta Naoki

Some of the more eye-popping books feature rhetoric of the kind heard from right-wing soundtrucks. Provocative cover art ranges from a huge hinomaru flag sitting on top of Tiananmen Square to an upside-down map of China, while other titles attract the book browser’s attention with sky-is-falling catch copy about cutting off relations, imminent collapse and conflict. Nearly every cover features a stylized hinomaru of some sort or another and rising sun red is the default color of choice.

The current crop of paperbacks about China are complimented by a wide range of books on a closely-related topic, Japan’s place in the world. Inasmuch as Japanese books about China are really a reflection of Japan’s anxieties about same, then many of the urgent books about saving Japan or waking up Japan or restoring Japan to its pride of place are indirectly about China.

China’s rise is being met in the crowded aisles of Japanese book stores with sensationalism, nay-saying and a nationalistic call to arms. The whys and wherefores and warnings about Japan's big neighbor remain a topic of abiding interest  for reasons that are both obvious and obscure. It's Japan's bete noir and biggest rival. It's the ancient home of Japan's classical culture and it continues to be a major influence in politics and trade. Yet at least one group of authors think that cutting off relations with China might be the best way to go.

"Cutting off relations with China and Korea--Let's be prepared"
by Seki Hei, Kou Bunyu and Ko Sanka

Three well-known television pundits and commentators recently joined forces to produce a book that provocatively suggests cutting off relations with China and Korea, titled: “Ze-ko no kankaku omachinansai" or “Let’s think about cutting off relations”

What makes “Ze-ko” stand out, besides the shocking title demurely suggesting that Japan should take the isolationist road, is that this pro-Japan, anti-China and anti-Korea tract is written not by some right wing conspiratorial Japanese fanatic, but is the collaborative work of three foreigners. There is a known value in the publishing world of having a “respected” foreigner, with the presumptions of authority and scholarly disinterest, to say something good about Japan that reflects Japanese thinking, but might sound immodest, if not outright biased, coming from a Japanese.

Harvard sociologist Ezra Vogel famously capitalized on this selling point with “Japan as Number One” the catchy title of which carries cachet and credibility coming from a prominent American scholar at a time when Americans are perceived by others, and rather arrogantly assume themselves, to be number one. With a boost from the irresistible title, the book was a big hit in Japan. Ironically, the disinterested word choice served Mr. Vogel’s self-interests in a publishing sense quite well.

More recently, former New York Times reporter Henry Scott Stokes, long resident in Japan, long since an ex-New York Times reporter, cranked out a provocative book with a Japanese translator which lauds Japan and hews closely to the neo-nationalist views now in vogue, earning the author broad readership and considerable royalties. Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist, earned Mr. Stokes instant fame as the kind of gaijin who really understands Japan, and instant infamy among Japan-jaded fellow reporters who take issue with his poorly-researched claims.

What really makes “Ze-ko” stand out, though, is not just that it was written by foreigners, fluent in Japanese, but well-educated foreigners whose ancestral countries are the point of contention.

Seki Hei (Shi Ping) is originally from mainland China, Ko Bunyu (Huang Wenxiong) from Taiwan and Ko Sanka, a TV commentator, and the sole female contributor to the volume, is Korean.

Based mostly on recorded conversation, the book is a fast read, chatty and conversational in style. While their transcribed exchanges sound more reasonable than the provocative cover wording might suggest, it is clear they are preaching to the choir of right-leaning Japanese public opinion, and perhaps on some subconscious level, proving their fealty to their adopted home.

Seki Hei has published in Japanese several books on China, mostly in the negative. Despite being born and raised in China, he has little light to shed on China's endearing side. In fact, he asks why Chinese are so cruel in one book, while in another book, co-authored by a Japanese writer more sympathetic to China, engages in a debate about the "true nature" of Chinese.

"Why are the Chinese People so Cruel?"
by Seki Hei (aka Shi Ping)

"The True Nature of the Chinese"
by Soeshima Takahihto and Seki Hei

Seiki Hei's sometime co-author and fellow ethnic Chinese pro-Japan commentator, Ko Bunyu from Taiwan, also boasts a number of China books on the bookstore shelves. He offers what is billed a "true" history of modern China, while another recent book calls on the people of Japan to arise and confront China's blind ambition.

"The True History of China (1949-2013)
by Kou Bunyu

"People of Japan! China's greedy ambitions can be broken"
by Kou Bunyu (aka Huang Wenxiong)

Books filed under "Economics" which for purposes of this review mostly focus on the China trade, China business and China's bubble economy, fill a section of the shelves as they have for decades now. Such books speak to the immense volume of trade between Japan and China, even in troubled times, but the trend is not positive. Even when they are not stridently negative, as in the book by Chou Mao below, books about the perils of doing business in China are reminders that this is a confrontational era.  Voices of calm engagement can still be found on the bookshelves, but increasingly are pushed aside by more vociferous views. 

"Chinese business"
 -Poison and perils of doing business in China-
by Chou Mao (Zhang Yifan)

"China is turning out just like Japan"
-The bubble will pop-
by Wang Guopei et al.

Takeda Tsuneyasu is a Keio graduate with a long list of books touching on the touchy issue of Japanese identity, ranging from publications on the emperor system and imperial history to laments about Japanese not knowing as much about Japan as they should. He has written about his family links to the imperial family and done pieces about Japan for PHP publications about topics you should know "if you are Japanese." He has written about South Korea, which, interestingly, is sometimes paired with China as a country to be doubtful about. As with other prolific writers on this list, his most successful books sell in the ten-thousand range, which is a low-end "best-seller" level for bookstores when selecting authors to put on the shelves and keep on the shelves. When it comes to commercial considerations, proven product turnover and past sales are critical factors for selection, generally trumping writing quality and political leaning. In his 2013 book below, purporting to describe the real China, based on reading 12 newspapers a day, he discusses labor camps, ripping off farmers and detention without trial.

"China is amusing, but no laughing matter"
by Takeda Tsuneyoshi

The author who calls himself Kazuya, is known for his YouTube Channel, Kazuya Channel, in which he rants and raves on topics of interest to him. Like the Prime Minister, this self-made patriot likes to pose next to the Japanese flag in his home-filmed interviews with himself.
"Stupid Countries"
Which is more stupid, Korea or China?
by Kazuya (of Kazuya Channel)

"Anti-Japan propaganda in recent times"
by Kurayama Minoru

Is China at the end of the road? What about all the violent demonstrations, the endless political struggles, cadre corruption, bad loans, business battles, overseas flight and the troubled economy? Jonen Tsukachi, the author of "Japan is not bankrupt" warns the reader in this anti-China screed not to be pulled in by China, as China faces economic doom and gloom.
"Bad China"
by Jonen Tsukachi

An upside-down map of China and Japan dominates the cover of Aoyama Shigeharu's book about the unshakeable inter-relatedness of the two East Asian powers, with the geographic extremities of Lhasa and Naha, Okinawa highlighted. A former researcher for Mitsubishi and reporter for Kyodo news, the Waseda-educated Aoyama now has taken on the role of a pundit and private newsletter author as head of Japan's Independent Institute. His consulting clients include Japan's Defense Agency and he has served as a member of Japan's Atomic Energy Commission. 

"Japan and China to Rise or Fall"
by Aoyama Shigeharu

The small countercurrent going against the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the naysayers rarely takes an overt pro-China stance, but stakes out a relatively neutral position by playing down the likelihood of war or economic collapse.This sub-genre includes journalists, linguists and individuals engaged in cultural exchange who write knowledgeably about China in ways that don’t conform to mass media coverage. Kobayashi Fumimori has written a sober and well-documented book based on his experience as a journalist for TV Tokyo in China. It's akin to journalist exposes by former New York Times writers in its certitude and dim view of China, but it's far better documented, and represents considerable first-hand experience in contrast to the other books on the Japan China shelf.

"Everything you've seen on TV about China is 97% lies"
by Kobayashi  Fuminori

Hiramatsu Shigeru, born in 1936, has written extensively on China's military in a long and prolific career as a writer. In the book currently on the shelves, he takes a look at sovereignty issues and recent unilateral claims by China, which reveals what it is really thinking through its maps.

"As for China..."
(the truth about its territorial expansion)
by Hiramatsu Shigeru

Author Ming Xia makes the sensational claim that 30,000 spies from China are operating in Japan today, with another 100,000 military specialists preparing for guerilla war.  Japan needs counter-intelligence to stop the threat that gets closer every day. China spies  can be found in the media, among politicians, in the Self-Defense Forces and elsewhere.

"China Spies: They are right next to you"
by Ming Xia

Two recent anti-China books by author Hasegawa Keitaro were found on the bookstores shelf. Hasegawa has been publishing books on China, none of them nice, for over three decades now, including work under the auspices of the World Anti-Communist League.  Taiwan's United Daily News described Keitaro Hasegawa's 2013 book, "Goodbye Asia," as a right-wing rant that depicts "Japan's Asian neighbors as garbage dumps, and Japan as a gleaming high-rise building towering above this expanse of garbage."

"China on the Eve of Destruction"

by Hasegawa Keitaro

         "As China goes down, Japan goes up"
                       by Hasegawa Keitaro

Masuda Etsusuke, US educated and a long-time analyst at JP Morgan, has written about Japan's culture as being "one of the best kept secrets in the world" and about the wonders of Edo Japan is now contributing to the crowded China pundit field with a work about how China, despite obvious talent, is self-destructing.
"Japanese culture is the best-kept secret in the world"
Masuda Etsusuke

"China Self-destructs"
-The tragedy of rulers too clever by a half-
by Masuda Etsusuke

Kondo Daisuke's books stand out as rare voice deeply sympathetic with China. His previous book, "Japan Needs to Ally with China" gives a sense of his idealism, drawn, he says from long years resident in Beijing riding the subway and observing ordinary people. He sees Sino-Japan relations in yin-yang terms; China, a land-based realm, is masculine, Japan, surrounded by the sea, is feminine. He sees "close-mindedness" as the main failing of Japanese, while he argues that Chinese lack "self-confidence." In his newest book he decries the futility of these two great East Asian nations going to war and seeks a strategy to avoid such conflict. Unlike some of the other authors in this list, such as Shinzo Abe, Kobayashi Yoshinori and Komori Yoshihisa who have all made a point of paying respects to Japanese war dead at Yasukuni Shrine, Kondo made a point of paying respects at the China memorial to victims of the Nanjing Massacre.
"A Strategy for dealing with China"
by Kondo Daisuke

"Winner Take All" is a book, originally published in English by the Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo. The theme of the book, "China's race for resources and what it means for the world" is a natural topic for a resource-starved Japan that finds itself in direct competition with China.

"China--Winner Take All"
by Dambisa Moyo et al

Komori Yoshihisa, a veteran reporter for Sankei, has earned a name for himself with savage essays attacking the left in Japan for employing the inappropriate ideas from the United States and China bashing their own beloved country. In an interview with David McNeill he has gone on the record describing "comfort women" as well-paid prostitutes who worked of their own volition. He says his residence in Beijing as a reporter gave him insights into how the communist system provides the structure for incessant criticism of Japan. As for Yasukuni, he shows incredulity that China can criticize a Shinto shrine when they suppress religion and regard Shinto as a cult.  He blames Chinese textbooks for ignoring the efforts Japan has made for peace and wants Japan to be a normal country, not one that kowtows to China and cowers behind an imposed pacifist ideology.

"China's Anti-Japan Fantasy"
by Komori Yoshihisa

One of those rare books that grapples with China's growth without the alarm bells and call to war is Soeshima Takahito's matter-of-fact narrative about a China that is growing, and will continue to grow, a view disputed by renegade mainland author Seki Hei as seen in book featuring a debate between the two mentioned earlier.

"China will keep up its rapid growth"
by Soeshima Takahito

And finally, the sort of book that sells well in the US and can be used as part of a soft power push to put China in its place by detailing its human rights abuses, travesties of justice and its truculent, tone-deaf policy of keep a Nobel Prize peace laureate in prison on trumped up political charges.

"From Tiananmen to Charter '08: Liu Xiaobo"
by Norikuni Koyasu

If manga, are, for the time being at least, not a significant low-brow vehicle for expressing anxiety about China, it is not to say that such anxiety does not find its way into print. There are plenty of China tracts in print, pro and con, mostly con, and mostly emotional rather than analytical or scholarly. Judging from what bookstores bank on selling, the Japanese reader’s interest in China is alive and well, a brightly-burning flame that fueled both by the latest news bulletins, the seemingly inexorable rise of China and unfinished business of the last war. Age-old irritants are recast as existential threats, as the shift of economic fortunes and mutual military buildups raise questions about each nation’s proper place in the East Asian order of things. Localized territorial disputes are seen as harbingers of war, while seemingly arcane questions of history and remembrance of history provoke bashing, smashing and some tentative embracing. In a political climate where anti-China ink-spilling is the norm, there is a niche market for those who embrace the idea of Sino-Japanese amity. Gone are the heady days of the 1980’s when Japan enjoyed early access to the China market, or the 1990’s when Japan, deeply invested in trade, chose not to castigate or humiliate China for human rights abuses, then all the rage in the Western world. Also gone are the books about Japan as number one, or even a comfortable number two, as Japan has now sunk to number three, falling behind the rival it worries most about.

What all such China books, pro and con, share in common, almost to the point of being comic, is the idea that this or that author understands the “real” China that everyone else seems to be missing.

"China-US on the Nanjing Massacre"
Accusing Japan in front of the world
by Kobayashi Yoshinori

Kobayashi Yoshinori is the rare manga artist whose books earn placement in the political paperback section of the bookstore. His work is hybrid by nature, he is more overtly political than most manga artists, and his cartoon images, while artfully drawn, are more subservient to the text than is usually the case with image-rich manga. 

He has put together so many books on controversial topics that he is a veritable cottage industry in his own right, a contrarian of the first order.  Almost always interesting, if not infuriating, he wears his unique brand of neo-nationalism on his sleeve, and given his anachronistic views on women, Shintoism and what it means to be a Japanese male.  Seen dressed up in traditional garb with a long sword in hand, suggests he’s a kind of self-styled Mishima, with a gift for comic illustration but without the writing ability.

Manga artist Kobayashi Yoshinori has carved out a name for himself as a maverick who is as quick to offend as he is easily offended. It offends him to see Japanese women with foreign men, it offends him to see politicians making allowances for devious neighboring countries like Korea and Japan, it offends him that the US still has bases on Japanese soil.

The angry manga artist has written enough books on political topics to earn an entire shelf of his own, in the book section, where Kobayashi has scored a trifecta of taboo-toppling by writing antagonistically about the Nanking Massacre, the Senkaku Islands and the question of US bases on Okinawa  (not to mention a controversial book about the Japanese emperor)

His voluminous earlier works include ruminations of Japanese superiority, Yasukuni Shrine, Taiwan, and the issue of comfort women. It’s totally in character with his hard-line nationalist posing that he should turn to the Senkaku Islands in one of his most recent works. What is more surprising is his latest topic, nuclear power, and his take on it. Breaking from the right-wing plank in a way that ensures his new book will stir controversy, he has become a vocal opponent of nuclear power. This points him at odds with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and other nationalists of the “Japan-beautiful-country” school who are ardent supporters of nuclear power as well as armaments.  

A sample of China-related books on sale in the gift shop of Yasukuni Shrine's Yushukan Museum, which includes works by Kobayashi Yoshinori,  revisionist books about the euphemistically-named "Nanking Incident" and a book featuring former Taiwan leader  Li Teng-hui whose brother is among the war dead interred as Yasukuni, with catch copy proclaiming the Senkaku Islands belong to Japan.

In the same section of the bookstore where political tracts and tomes on China are to be found, there is extensive literature about Japan's political condition, ranging from neo-nationalist diatribes about weakness in the face of strength and the need for strength to combat weakness, to more nuanced reflections on history and geo-politics. Although China is not overtly the topic of such work, it is the elephant in the room, as any discussion of Japan's history, geopolitical stance, or military matters has some bearing on China, and often a great deal of connection to the topic. The US is also a key player in Japanese history and politics, and some of the writers here, such as former Coast Guard chief Tamogami Toshio, that it is high time for Japan to free itself of ties that bind it to the US to allow it a free hand in East Asia.

"Japan can slip the knot of the Post War"
by Tamogami Toshio and Sekioka Hideyuki

"Japan's Resolve"
by Abe Shinzo

"This Fatherland of Ours"
by Aoyama Shigeharu

"Why Japanese will continue to be admired around the world"
-Japan is Awesome!"
by Kou Bunyu

"The Territory of Japan is in Danger"
Yano Yoshiaki

"Japan Invaded"
-Our territory and territorial waters must be preserved-
-China wants more than just the Senkakus, they have designs on Okinawa too-
by Yamada Yoshihiko

Sakurai Yoshiko, former NTV newscaster, is a prolific author and tireless rightwing commentator whose ideology-driven tracts have graced the bookstore bookshelves for decades. Her latest diatribe in print is a call to resist compromise with China and North Korea which she pairs as communist evil twins. Another Sakurai book on the shelves posits China as an alien country that is alien to Japanese comprehension. A tireless Japan roving speaker and vigilant Japan-firster, she uses her refined media skills, credibility and broad recognition from her television news anchors days to reach a wide audience.“Nihon no kankaku”-Buranai, kobinai, kushinai- (Don’t give an inch, don’t budge, don’t compromise)

"Japan be vigilant"
-Don't be weak with China and North Korea-
by Sakurai Yoshiko

"China: the Alien Country"
-We just can't get used to it-
by Sakurai Yoshiko

"Japan is Back!"
-Abe Shinzo wants to take us back-
by An fu Bu

"Light and Shadow -The Imperial Army and Navy"
by Ohara kangnan

"Japan's Constitution"
(on sale in convenience stores)

That's a survey of one bookstore during a random sweep in 2014. But the story is repeated with small variations over time and place throughout Japan.

Several smaller bookshops were also examined, where the domination of urgent tomes and tabloid fare was repeated on a smaller scale.  Large chains such as Tsutaya and Kinokuniya have their own marketing systems, but it's the rare bookstore that won't carry a book that sells well, and for the moment at least, China sells.

While editorial selection at the big book stores is usually a mix of what is known to sell, what is currently selling and what is expected to sell, there are smaller ideologically-driven bookstores that march to their own unique tune. Nowhere is this more palpable than at the gift shop at Yushukan Museum inside Yasukuni Shrine. Visitors to the bookstore at Yasukuni are presented with works that are almost exclusively screeds on revisionist history, especially work by Japanese rightwing writers eager to tell the "real" story about controversial topics such as the fate of the "comfort women" and the "so-called" Nanjing Massacre. At Yushukan, cartoon books and noisy rightist screeds by the gifted cartoonist Kobayashi Yoshinori sell side by side with books about Taiwan's former Prime Minister Lee Tenghui, a self-professed Japanophile whose brother fought in Japan's Imperial Army and is interred at Yasukuni Shrine.