Tamogami Update

Last week on November 4 I wrote a long post detailing the results of my brief investigation into the various political connections surrounding the (now) infamously ultra-right-wing (now) former General Tamogami Toshio. This article was referenced by several English language bloggers such as Jun Okumura, Tobias Harris, and the anonymous Shisaku, (as well as a very nice plug from Curzon) who all add their own instructive commentary. Best of all though, was a prominent citation by Herbert Bix, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, who gave his perspective on the controversy in an essay in the Japan Focus online journal. Bix’s key piece of analysis regarding Tamogami is that “His aim is to forge a body of activist officers who will participate in political combat, promoting the “true” perspective on history, even if it is not factually true for the particular historical period he cares about.” Based on further evidence that has come out since my initial article, some of which Bix cites (even more has come out since), this certainly seems to be the case.

I wish I had time right now to do another in-depth piece, but I don’t, so I’ll just run down the various interesting facts that I’ve noted in more of a summary list form. There’s a lot more than this around, both in ordinary newspaper articles found online, blogs, and in print-only magazine articles, so I will try and do a few more updates soon. I had started to collate everything into one big post, but after letting it sit for a week I thought I should just hit post on this one and continue adding details in future posts.

  • Tamogami had published a similar article in May of last year, in a magazine for “officers to publish their personal research.” In this article, he described the fact that Japan invaded Korea and China and committed brutalities there a lie, and said of the Nanjing Massacre that “some civilians may have gotten mixed-up in the midst of the chaos, However, there was absolutely no systematic massacre of Chinese civilians by the Japanese army.” (After writing the post I found the article at this excellent blog.) In 2004, when he was dean of the JSDF Joint Staff College, he wrote another article for the same magazine, in which he called on JSDF members to submit articles to ordinary magazines. Neither of these articles made any political or media fuss at the time. (Asahi, Nov. 3)
  • I found a review of the book written by Ochiai Michio (落合道夫), second prize winner of the APA Group contest. The book, “Looking at the Japanese and the Great East-Asian War from the Perspective of Stalin’s International Invasion” endorses the same minority theory of Comintern responsibility for the Xian Incident. Based on the review, it seems to be an expanded version of the thesis proposed in “Mao: The Unkown Story”, which was itself heavily cited in Tamogami’s APA essay. In general, the book sounds as if it reflects a version of history identital that of both Tamogami Toshio and Motoya Toshio. The author seems to have no university affiliation, and in fact his name has no online presence aside from a couple of mentions of this book, or his connection with the current contest. The book is not available in ordinary bookstores, and can be ordered from its publisher, “The Tokyo Institute for the Study of Modern History” only by telephone or fax, as they have no website. They may be some sort of right-wing group, or they may simply be Mr. Ochiai’s living room with a fancy sign on the wall.
  • Hatoyama Yukio, who was photographed at the “Wine no Kai’ with APA Group leader Motoya Toshio and Tamogami claims that, “did appear at the meeting with my wife, thinking that it was not a place for political discussions. The overall mood was and conversation was peculiar, and I took a graceful early exit without having spoken much.” (Sankei Nov. 6)
  • As Curzon helpfuly pointed out, APA Group actually is not a publically traded company, which means that my speculation over possible misuse of corporate funds etc. turned out to be likely unfounded. While there are a variety of banks and other creditors/investors, the company is largely controlled by the Motoya family. For example, this page shows four different members of the Motoya family serving on the board of the Apa Community Co.
  • The only company in the APA Group not to have APA in the name is the “Japan Finance Development Finance Corporation”, based in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Pref. near the Komatsu base, and near to where APA was founded, and the hometown of Motoya Toshio, who is listed as the representative of this sub-company. (Search here, cannot link directly due to CGI script.)
  • Of the 235 essay submissions, a lage proportion were found to be JASDF members. I believe the latest count is 94. As pointed out by Tobias Harris, when there were still only 78 identified ASDF personnel, the Asahi discovered “hat of those seventy-eight, none except General Tamogami were flag officers, ten were field officers, sixty-four were company-level officers, and four were cadets. Asahi also found that sixty-two had served under General Tamogami when he served as commander of Komatsu base.”
  • The Japan Times did a pretty thorough profile of Motoya Fumiko, wife of Toshio, back in 2005. Fumiko is actually CEO not of APA Group, but of APA Hotels, while her husband is head of the overall corporation. Motoya Fumiko became a celebrity CEO after splashing her en-hatted photo all over advertising, and writing a book about her management style, but interestingly her husband does not even have an article on Japanese Wikipedia-despite his many and not very secretive right wing-activist political activities.
  • One detail I had noticed while doing the research, but then forgot to insert into my original post. One of the honorable mentions in the essay contest is the head of the Risk Management Office of APA. While I see no reason to think there is any particular significance to his selection, corporate contests in general ban all employees and immediate families of employees from participating in a contest, to avoid conflict of interest. Having an employee be a contest winner (an honorable mention includes a small cash prize and APA hotel voucher) is simply another piece of evidence to suggest the generally irregular and suspicious nature of the contest.

14 thoughts on “Tamogami Update”

  1. “APA Group actually is not a publically traded company, which means that my speculation over possible misuse of corporate funds etc. turned out to be likely unfounded.”

    Uh, no. Same general corprate law applies, although the TSE listing rules do not. But that it is privately held makes it less unlikely that a shareholder would make some sort of claim.

  2. Being more articulate:

    Uh, no. TSE listing rules would not apply, but the same general corprate law provisions would (ultra vires, director liability, etc.). That being said, that it is not publicly traded makes it less likely that a shareholder — the party with the valid cause of action — would make some sort of claim.

  3. The issue of the ethical problems surrounding this contest have nothing to do with whether the company is publicly traded or not.

    APA has a publishing concern, which no doubt is receiving considerable PR from this essay contest, ending any question of the basic relevance of an essay contest to APA’s business. If the top manager decides to hold a contest, that’s up to him if he believes it is in the best interests of the company. Even if it were public or held privately by several shareholders, usually the shareholders wouldn’t even have a say about the management of the company. At most the company would need to get board approval for significant promotional costs or actions that could impact the company’s image.

    But if this contest was a sham set up with the results decided ahead of time, or if employees or family members are entering the contest, the company could open itself to fraud charges. At least in the US, you aren’t allowed to misrepresent the purpose of a contest. If you have an essay contest you are expected to post clear standards and grant the awards fairly based on those standards. And close family members/employees are usually not allowed to enter because of they are more likely to have an undue influence on the judges. But in that case you would have to examine the details of how the contest was administered. I wonder if there are any jilted revisionists out there who were able to more convincingly blame the Comintern for luring Japan into the war.

    Ignoring the fraud issue for a moment, as a shareholder, I might worry that Motoya is letting his political activities get in the way of his business sense, but as far as I can tell snuggling up to right-wing circles is probably a decent way to sell books, and at any rate it is a sideline to the hotel and real estate businesses. Some publishers earn their keep by printing works by famous people or politicians who can then pressure their supporters or business associates to buy copies in bulk. And as I mentioned earlier, these right-wing tracts have a built-in Internet audience, so maybe Motoya is doing the right thing by positioning himself as a patron of rightist thinkers.

    As much as we would like to believe the worst about Motoya, the simple fact that an APA employee won an honorable mention does not by itself imply anything too sinister except perhaps sloppiness. The real stinker is that his political ally won the contest.

    Also, while I have not seen any evidence that any fraud has taken place, it would be nice to see what the entry form looked like, and where they actually promoted the contest.

  4. “And as I mentioned earlier, these right-wing tracts have a built-in Internet audience,”

    I’m pretty skeptic about that.An average SEI-RON reader is 70 somethings.And the only internet related right-wing bese seller is Ken-Kanryu,even that probably be best seller if only Asahi Shimbun actually printed the title in their ceoverage of “best selling books in Shinjyuku Kinokuniya”pr what ever.

    There’s a huge generational gap between the reading public and internet trolls. I think.

  5. I don’t know the laws regarding running a competition in Japan but I doubt they look much like US legislation. Another line of inquiry might be tax. If it could be determined that the competition was rigged then the monetary awards would no longer constitute prize money. That would affect how APA could book the expenses and perhaps also how Tamogami presented them on his personal tax returns.

  6. Curz.You wouldn’t “meet” with any of these NEETs in your life.You belong to the better class.Besides,I even doubt they ever leave their room.

    Anyway,my fear was that this dual citizenry issue came from nobody but half assed liberal like Kono,which only adds more fuel to the issue.
    That’s why I keep telling,no constitutional revision,no open immigrant….

  7. Ooops.It looks like Kono didn’t write the original draft.My bad,I’m now with the rest of these bigots….

  8. Big Asahi scoop with the details of how the contest was run:


    Apparently, several of the contest judges were really miffed at how Motoya ran things… Of over 400 entries, the company only sent the four-member panel 25 for the first round of anonymous scoring. Motoya himself was apparently on the panel (though APA did not list him as a judge), and he gave the top score to Tamogami’s (anonymous) essay while giving low scores to all the others. In the second round of judging, the names and profiles of the contestants were revealed and the judges met to discuss the winner. Three essays, including Tamogami’s, had the same number of points. Motoya apparently proposed that they just give the prize to Tamogami and award a kind of tied-for-second prize to the others. None objected.

    Apart from Motoya, the judges named in the report:

    Shuichi Yamamoto, a former Diet member’s secretary and current legal scrivener and guest lecturer in Okayama Prefecture.
    Nobuaki Hanaoka, conservative commentator
    Kazuo Komatsuzaki, President of (Yomiuri affiliated) Hochi Shimbun

    Apparently the fourth judge was Motoya, but I can’t tell for sure by the way the report is written.

  9. OK,I was regretting for not sending any of my own essay for the contest and win the prize.But now we know the contest was a bogus.

    Kinda funny while Hanaoka(former head of politics department of Sankei,and currently a “guest”editor)openly supports APA and Tamogami,the other Fuji-Sankei branch,FUJI TV’s late night NEWS JAPAN was making criticism on Tamogami as “unsuitable for the man of such high ranking”.

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