Japan-Philippine Relations: Economic and Cultural Determinants of Mutual Images in an Unequal Cooperative Dyad

First published 1986/03

by David Wurfel, Department of Political Science, University of Windsor. Paper presented at AAS, Chicago, March 21-23, 1986

Why study images? An image, in Deutsch’s sense of the term, “Serves as a screen for the selective perception and interpretation of messages” being received by the individual from the environment.1 It is our filter for reality, and is the effective basis for decision making. Thus to understand images is to have a better insight into the policy process, and the context for all interactions. Kenneth Boulding has said, “What I believe to be true — my image of the world — largely governs my behavior”.2

The images — a mixture of values, attitudes and cognitions — which any community holds are the legacy of past experience and the framework for interpreting the future. Thus interactions between two communities will be greatly affected by the images they have of each other. But as interaction patterns change, so also will the images, especially when the relationship is essentially cooperative, and each party is open to feedback. Our emphasis in this paper will be on trying to understand the determinants of both stability and change in the composition of mutual images of two national communities. We will note cultural as well as socio-economic factors in the process.

The Philippine-Japan relationship, though regarded as insignificant by many until recently, is fast becoming preeminent for the Philippines and has received vastly increased attention in Japan in the last few years, especially since the Aquino assassination. For example, in Asahi Shimbun up until August 21, 1983, coverage of the Philippines averaged 12 column centimeters per day. The remainder of the year this coverage averaged 67.5 column centimeters — and the increased interest has been sustained in many fields. In some respects the Philippine-Japan relationship is unique, but it is typical of Japan’s links with ASEAN countries in being an unequal cooperative dyad.3


The inequality of this dyad is easy to demonstrate, primarily in economic terms. For instance, in trade in 1981 22% of Philippine exports and 19% of imports either went to or came from Japan. For Japan, on the other hand, Philippine trade amounted to little more than 1% of its world wide total. If one looks at particular commodities, the inequality is even greater. Almost all copper concentrate exports go to Japan, but the Japanese have several suppliers. The same was true of bananas, until the Philippine found new markets in Singapore, Hong-Kong and the Middle East. Or, if one examines investment, Japan had $786 million invested in the Philippines in 1983, while the reverse flow is negligible.4

Though the relationship has not, of course, always been cooperative, the above evidence already implied considerable economic cooperation. In addition, economic aid (including both grants and interest bearing loans) from Japan was reported by JICA as having reached ¥ 70,136 million in 1983, making Japan the primary source of bilateral economic assistance in the Philippines.5

The asymmetery can also be found in the internal characteristics of the two societies, both economic and cultural. For instance, the hourly wage in manufacturing in 1975 was only $0.24 in the Philippines compared to $3.28 in Japan, and the per capita GNP was comparably skewed. Yet a 13 nation Gallup survey in 1979 reported that Filipinos were both more satisfied and more hopeful than Japanese. Only 49.5% of Japanese said they were “satisfied with life” compared to 76.8% of Filipinos. Nearly 85% of Filipinos described themselves as “hopeful”, compared to only 58% of Japanese.6

In fact, the two cultures are about as different as any two in Asia: Japanese tend almost to be workaholics, while Filipinos value their leisure very highly. Filipino women enjoy freedom and high status within the framework of bilateral kinship, while Japan is still a very much male dominated patrilineal society. Loyalties tend to be long lasting in Japan, while they are much more instrumental in the Philippines. The style of work is very different, in both business and politics. Japanese are rather bureaucratized, while Filipinos are more ad hoc. Because Filipinos derive considerable enjoyment from street demonstrations even on urgent questions, Japanese, who take such activities very seriously, cannot understand that Filipinos are, in their seemingly light-hearted manner, also engaged in serious political enterprise.7 (This is a real obstacle to Japanese understanding of Philippine politics).


Perhaps the most fascinating cultural inversion, with profound consequences for Japan-Philippine relations, is in the meaning of apology, sumimasen. Filipinos regard apology as an admission of guilt, with the guilty party having a responsibility to compensate the aggrieved. Thus the more you say, “I’m sorry”, the more you admit guilt and the more you must pay in compensation. But the Japanese feel that if you are ready to say sumimasen, you show penitence, a commendable attitude which deserves sympathy even from the aggrieved. Thus the aggrieved should not require full compensation for the wrong done—the more sumimasen, the less compensation.8

The impact of the inequality between the two societies is pervasive. Attention to and formation of images are affected by differences in both motivation and capability.

A. Japan, like any great power dealing with a weak one, needs to cultivate attitudes that are receptive of investment, and conducive to expanding markets, as well as tolerant of persistent negative trade balances. Thus Japanese government and business are very interested in understanding ASEAN images of Japan in general, and Filipino images in particular. For instance, when the Philippine Senate in January, 1972 rejected the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation with Japan (after twelve years of deliberation), Japan’s trade attache, after voicing a protest, asked in exasperation, “What we want to know is whether a rejection is caused by deep-rooted ill-feelings against Japan or simply because of political whims?9 The Japanese need to know was acute.

Considerable amounts have been spent to research SE Asian images. Gaimusho (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has funded two large surveys in ASEAN, the first in 1979 and the second in 1983. Mombusho (Ministry of Education) is funding a hugh study of images of Japan in a few ASEAN and several other countries. The Toyota Foundation has recently entered the field as well. And other Japanese organizations have held conferences on the subject and invited ASEAN scholars to give papers. The promotion of Japanese language and culture and of science and technology thru student and faculty exchanges, and in other ways, are all designed to bolster the Japanese image.

Japan is assisted in this effort by the fact that Filipino sources of information on Japan are almost exclusively Japanese. Japanese institutions have the resources to gather, process and store large quantities of data.

Most Filipino businessmen, for instance, would never bother to approach the Philippine government or Filipino academics when looking for Japanese data or its interpretation. The language barrier is, of course, formidable. And for every Filipino fully literate in Japanese there are thousands of Japanese who have mastered English.10 Thus the ability to mold the Filipino image of Japan is maximal.

Japanese images of Filipinos are also greatly affected by the inequality of the relationship. Filipino poverty and acceptance of exploitation, both in the sordid business of “sex tours” and the simple willingness to work at very low wages are an important part of the Japanese image of Filipinos.

B. Filipinos do not have the same economic interest in knowing the Japanese images of them, but it is a matter of concern, although the Philippines is unable to fund research on the matter. There is a widespread assumption that Japanese images are quite negative; it is often a matter of shame. As Sen. Oiokno has said, Japanese tourists deal with riff-raff and businessmen with corrupt officials, so what can you expect? One former cabinet member tells of an incident that is quite revealing. The Japanese construction company, for which he was an advisor, made a kanji ‘chop’ for him meaning “a duck who remained clean while swimming in dirty water”. He added, “It was a personal, but not a national, compliment. Japanese think that most Filipinos are crooks”.11

Because of a lack of Philippine resources, and a preference for Japanese interpretations, Japanese tend to rely almost entirely on their own research institutions for materials on the Philippines.

The perceived need by Filipinos for aid and investment from Japan leads to adjustments of their public stance which may appear as ambivalence to Japanese. On the one hand, they layout the proverbial Filipino hospitality for Japanese visitors; on the other, they provide sufficient reminders of their wartime suffering to keep alive a Japanese sense of obligation to compensate. Said one Filipino prominent in his country’s dealings with Japan, “The Japanese government and people made efforts to win back the friendship of countries it occupied. They stated their sorrow, paid reparations and started cultural exchange; Japan benefitted as much or more than the Philippines from reparations. Japan needs to do more to win back Filipino friendship.

Filipinos may already have forgiven Japan for wartime atrocities, but they have not forgotten”.12


The non-economic dimension of the dyad, the historical legacy, has already crept into our discussion. It may be even more important than the economic structure in determining mutual images.

Most obvious, of course, is that in the living memory of the Filipino elite Japan was a conqueror, and a very brutal one at that. Other SE Asian nations also experienced Japanese conquest, but (with the exception, perhaps, of Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia) did not suffer as much. Certainly many Filipinos believe their ordeal was unique. In the account of a leading Filipino historian and journalist the emotion was intense: “In the midst of this hideous chaos and suffering [during the liberation of Manila] beyond words to describe, the Japs began to commit horrors the like of which had never been heard of or seen before”.13

The Americans too had conquered the Philippines, at the turn of the century, and with considerable brutality against the Ihsurgents—but not against the elite. The U.S., however, had five decades of predominant influence over the educational system to reshape Filipino perceptions,14 not to mention the fact that American behavior sharply improved after 1901. Thus a very positive emotional attachment to Americans, American values and American-style political institutions by Filipinos was the historical legacy in 1941. This legacy produced a resistance which in turn helped trigger a very particular brutality. As David Steinberg has reminded us, “Filipinos continued the fight as staunchly after the formal surrender as before This will of the people was virtually an insurmountable obstacle to Japanese planners “.15 And the Japanese had a consistent explanation for this; said Gen. Honma in 1942, there are those “who cannot rid themselves of their pro-American sympathies and who continue to resist in vain without understanding” Japanese intentions.16 The Americanization of the Filipino sometimes produced such outbursts as that of Shozo Murata, chief wartime political advisor to the Japanese army in the Philippines: “Filipinos have no culture of their own; [they are] a people culturally bankrupt…17

Even today the mutual image is bedeviled by these two dimensions of the historical legacy: the Japanese disdain for Filipinos as lacking “culture” (i.e., a strong Asian tradition) and the Filipino recollection of Japanese brutality. A Japanese journalist with considerable experience in the Philippines reminds us that Japanese academics, and thus journalists and officials influenced by them, still have less respect for Filipinos than for other SE Asian peoples because of their lack of Ajia dento; Filipinos are not considered “real Asians”. In contrast, Japanese political style is very appealing to Japanese. Japanese attitudes are revealed in the lack of strength in Philippine studies in Japanese universities, with Tagalog taught in a university setting only for the last two. years. Said one Filipino businessman with considerable Japanese contacts, “Japanese regard Filipinos as imitators of U.S. culture, as U.S. puppets. Thus the Japanese sense of cultural superiority toward Filipinos is much greater than toward other ASEAN countries”.18 This was confirmed in a recent survey of Japanese attitudes towards 15 countries – including four from ASEAN – in which the Philippines had the lowest percentage for positive interest in its culture.19

The recollection of wartime brutality by Filipinos is perhaps even more salient. “Forgiven, but not forgotten” is probably an accurate assessment of Filipinos attitudes among those over 50. Though most members of the Filipino elite interviewed in 1985 specifically said that the “war experience is behind us now”, most also could recite cases of family members tortured or killed or property damaged by the Japanese. A leading Japanese businessman relates that over the last five years not one of his Filipino colleagues has ever alluded in conversation to wartime suffering at Japan’s hand.

But since the memory is not too far beneath the surface, a nasty incident can bring it up all too quickly. For instance, about a year ago, Toshio Yamamoto, a physical education teacher from the Japanese School in Manila was on the golf links; exasperated with his caddies, two Filipinas, he “knocked them lightly” on the head with the handle of his club, according to his version. A member of Parliament charged they had been “slapped and hit” and demanded Yamamoto’s deportation. In the Times Journal they were “beaten up”. But it was Jess Bigornia of the Bulletin Today who wrote what many others must have been thinking: he likened Yamamoto to the hated kempeitai.

In order to avoid a legal imbroglio, the Japanese Embassy agreed to have Yamamoto leave “voluntarily”.20

On the Japanese side the war experience prompts various responses. A longtime Japanese resident of Manila laments, “War destroyed all trust in Japan. It will take more than 100 years to restore the trust that existed in the 1930s”.21 One prominent Filipino, now a cabinet member, said that in his experience older Japanese businessmen on first meeting almost always began their conversation with an apology for the war.

Many Japanese would, on the other hand, appear to want to forget the unfortunate aspects of the war entirely, as the textbook revision incident revealed. Textbook revision, softening the account of Japanese brutalities, came at a time when the Philipines, seeking additional economic aid, could hardly afford to be critical of Japan. But the Chinese and Koreans were not so reticient. Some officials rejected their criticism, however, labelling the question within Japanese “domestic jurisdiction”. One Japanese writer interpreted the incident very sensitively. Said he, the indignation shown by the Chinese and South Koreans “is directed at the fact that the Japanese people do not appear to have seriously reflected on the criminal acts Japan has committed against China and Korea It is undeniable that once having repented their sins, the Japanese have conveniently forgotten about their wartime crimes and have tended to believe complacently that all is forgiven”.22 The comment could, of course, be generalized beyond China and South Korea.

The popularity of the book and TV film Ennetsu Shonin revealed in 1984, however, that many Japanese have not forgotten wartime crimes, and are still struggling with the consequences. The film, produced by NHK and broadcast at least three times, was based on a book written by a former JAL employee, a prize winning novelist. His plot incorporated a true incident, the shooting of a Sumitomo manager in Manila by an aggrieved Filipino logger. This was the first movie or novel about postwar Philippine-Japanese relations; and there has been no comparable Japanese treatment of relations with any other ASEAN country. Even though kempeitai atrocities were portrayed, as well as the consequent survival of Filipino hostility, this was softened by a hero who was attempting to meet the needs of Filipinos, even over the criticism of his Japanese corporate colleagues. He was conscious of trying to redeem Japan’s image in the Philippines, of trying to be a “beautiful Japanese” in the midst of the corporate jungle. The book and film raised wartime memories and dealt with contemporary exploitation, but extolled a hero who tried to do good within the system. The fact that the Japanese Embassy in Manila originally planned to show the film widely to Filipino audiences (with English subtitles), but subsequently decided against it, is a good indication that the ambivalence of the film produced a mixed reaction in official circles.

The reaction of a few Filipino intellectuals in Japan to its TV broadcast probably indicates that the Embassy’s caution was wise. A treatment of such a delicate subject in a way to make it acceptable to Japanese audiences was not designed to make it credible to their Filipino counterparts. The gap between nations in perceptions of the war years is still too great.


Trends in the content of mutual images have been deeply affected by the intensification of an increasingly unequal relationship. Not only has trade and investment grown, so has the movement of people and messages.

Imports from Japan in the decade starting Jan. 1972 grew by more than 4 times. Since exports to Japan grew more slowly, the trade surplus of the early 1970s had turned to a trade deficit by 1976.23 Japanese investment grew more than 8 times in the same period, rising from less than 5% of total foreign investment, to over 25% in the mid-1970s, and then back to 18% in 1981.24 Since Japan in the mid-1980s has become the world’s largest exporter of capital, the chances of Japan overtaking the U.S. as the major foreign investor are rather good. In the field of government economic aid, Japan extended grants and loans in 1983 which were nearly twice those just five years earlier. Quite clearly the Japanese economic presence in the Philippines was growing rapidly.

The intensification of the relationship can also be seen in the movement of people and messages. The number of Japanese entering thePhilippines annually grew from 8,086 in 1969 to 143,934 fifteen years later, or 927% in the second five year period over the first, and 30% in the third period over the second. That was a more rapid rate of growth of Japanese entry than in any ASEAN country except Singapore.25 The most rapid growth category was tourism, which in some years accounted for more than 90% of entrants, but actually declined after 1979. Business entries were rather stable at a bit over 12,000 for the last several years, growing less rapidly than in the rest of ASEAN. At the same time telegrams between Japan and the Philippines (from 1969 to 1982) increased by nearly threefold and telephone calls nearly 16 times. In 1969 the Philippines had the largest number of such messages in ASEAN, but by 1982 had been displaced by Singapore with more than twice as many in each category than the Philippines.26 Interactions between Japanese and Filipinos, both business and personal, remote and face to face, had multiplied spectacularly.

Two eminent Japanese scholars, K. Kojima and S. Matsumoto, have suggested that when increased interaction is based on a rapid growth in Japanese investment and trade, and when Japan’s share of both is also rising, that “over-presence” becomes a problem, leading to friction and resentment. Their views find wide support in Japan.27 Matsumoto gave Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as examples during the period 1969-76.

Kojima concentrated on investment. Said he, “When Japanese investments in a certain host country increase to more than critically substantial importance, or, in other words, a peril point, condemnation begins to arise If Japanese investments share more than half of the total foreign investments in the host country, a fear of Japanese domination may appear.

Behavior of the foreign firms and their staff are condemned from various points of view: too many Japanese expatriaties, local staff are not promoted; low wages; transfer pricing and tax evasion; bribing local officials, etc. Though less theoretical in analysis, the comment of a Filipino businessman intimately involved in contacts with Japan agrees that “friction grows from expanded commerce”.

But, it would be hard to prove the “over presence” theory from available evidence on the Philippines. In the first place, the problem there was less important. Only the Philippines within ASEAN had the prime source of exports and imports and well as foreign investment from a country other than Japan, namely the U.S. Yet by 1983 on two out of three major economic issues, i.e. Japanese aid and investment, it was the Philippines which shared, with Thailand, the most negative response pattern in a Gaimusho survey.28 (For Indonesia and Thailand in the early 1980s, on the other hand, Japan was pre-eminent in all three roles. The theory seemed to fit in those two countries at the time of the “Tanaka riots” of 1976, when the Japanese prime minister received such a “warm” reception from students.)

Furthermore, the most rapid growth of Japanese investment and imports was in the first two years after the ratification by Pres. Marcos of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation on December 27, 1973. But this did not produce anti-Japanese outbursts for the visit of Premier Tanaka, or for any other occasion. In part this is to be explained by Marcos’ tight control, but since Suharto was not exactly a liberal democrat, there were obviously other explanations. (On this there will be further thoughts below).

An increasingly unequal relationship was, of course, the consequence of unparallelled Japanese prosperity. According to UNCTAD statistics, whereas the per capita GDP in 1967 was four times in Japan what it was in the Philippines, by 1977 the ratio was 16 to 1, despite considerable growth in the Philippine economy. This had its attitudinal spinoffs on the Japanese side. The most widely noted was the rise of Japanese self-confidence, which, for one who had listened to the orgies of self-deprecation in the early post-war years, seemed a healthy change. In a very careful research which analyzed quantitatively the speeches of the Japanese foreign minister in the Diet from 1955 to 1967, Kiyoko Nitz concluded that already by the late 1960s there was evidence that the earlier official “lack of self-confidence” had disappeared.29

Self-confidence also produced arrogance. For instance, in the mid-1970s the chairman of Sumitomo Chemicals, trying to fend off criticism from Japanese environmentalists, assured a TV audience that they need not worry, since “any business with harmful chemical pollution can be sent to the Philippines”. Japanese themselves began to comment on the phenomenon. For instance, in the midst of the textbook revision controversy in 1982 Shinkichi Eto “expressed anxiety over a new arrogance surfacing in Japan Recently many younger politicians and civil servants have been indulging in proud arguments”.30 From a scholar who disagreed with Eto on the issue at hand there was nevertheless consensus on the deeper concern: “What is the psychological basis of the arrogance of Japanese people in neighboring countries [a qualification not placed by Eto] today?…It must be due to the economic success of their country If such behavior invites secret antipathy and contempt from…neighbors, the textbook issue may be the harbinger of very unhappy events in the future”.[3l] Another Japanese scholar himself displayed some boldness in publishing in the Philippines an article which concluded that, despite the brutality that actually occurred under its aegis, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was designed “to construct a new moral order…in which each nation would take its proper place”.32

A Filipino business man with links to Japan contends that Japanese arrogance grew most noticeably when Americans began praising Japanese management techniques.33 But another Filipino business leader insists the Japanese are no more arrogant than other foreign investors or traders.34 In the response to the Gaimusho survey in 1983 Filipinos used the word “arrogant” to describe Japanese five times mqre frequently than any other ASEAN nationality, and the frequency jumped sharply from 1979 to 1983.35

A great increase in the flow of people, as well as goods, between the Philippines and Japan, if in the context of increasing inequality, leads to new types of exploitation which serve to increase negative images on both sides. A conservative Japanese politician stated the view from Tokyo most baldly. Said he, “The chief Philippine exports to Japan these days are dope, prostitution and illegal hand guns”.36 In the Filipino elite the problems of yakuza and “sex tours” were most frequently mentioned, though they were painfully aware of the large number of Filipina “entertainers” in Japan and the bad name that this gave the whole country. The root of these problems was the desperate unemployment and low wage of the employed Filipino workers, and, secondly, the corruption in the Philippine government which invited the operation of Japanese gangsters. But neither would the problems have existed without the willingness of some Japanese to gratify their sexual appetites at whatever human cost—the monetary cost, by Japanese standards, was a special bargain.

As we have already mentioned, there was a phenomenal increase in Japanese tourism in the Philippines in the 1970s. It grew, encouraged by the government, from 1972 to 1979 by more than 25 times — 6,803 in 1972 and 175,691 in 1979. Philippine crime helped cause some decline in the inflow after that. Tourism fosters social problems in many countries, but its magnitude in the Philippines can only be understood by looking more closely at the figures. In 1980 there were more than 151,000 Japanese adult males entering the Philippines, with less than 14,000 on business, government or research assignments. Since less than 31,000 adult Japanese females went to the Philippines in the same year, that meant more than 105,000 unaccompanied adult males entering with the status of “tourist”, though some may actually have been on brief business trips. In the same year there were only about 72,000 unaccompanied adult male tourists from Japan entering all other ASEAN countries combined. The implication clearly is that though “sex tourism” was not a problem limited to the Philippines (it was rather flagrant also in Thailand), it was concentrated there.

But the tour operators who made so much money out of this tawdry business did not reckon on aroused feminists and church organizations in both the Philippines and Japan. The protest in the Philippines embarrassed the Japanese government and business leaders, while the protests in Japan were often quite embarrassing to the individual involved. Thus with the help of pressures from the Japanese government, such enterprises were discouraged, though not, of course, stopped. From 1980 to 1983 the annual entrance of adult Japanese males into the Philippines dropped by over 43,000, while the female ingress only fell by 1,554. Negative images helped produce action.

There are some hints that the Japanese yakuza, who have had a role to play in prostitution in Manila, switched the major venue for their activites in the late 1970s when the heat was on against “sex tours”. In any case, the entrance of Filipinas into Japan grew nearly five-fold from 1977 to 1983, so that in the last year there were 30,530 Filipino women entering, as against 17,357 men, making the Philippines the only ASEAN country with more female than male entrants. In the same period the overall increase in the entrance of “ASEAN aliens” into Japan was 2.6 times. (The entry of Thai women grew 3.2 times in the same period).37 Many of these women were brought in as domestics, skirting government regulations and being paid much below Japanese rates, but living a decent life. Many others, however, were brought in by the yakuza as virtual slaves, told in advance that jobs as waitresses or nightclub entertainers had been secured for them. A man arrested in Osaka for operating a “date club” with Thai and Filipino women was reported to have “earned” Y42 million in the previous year.38 Yet the practice continues.

In 1980 the problem was sufficiently widespread that the Japan Christian Women’s Temperance Union began raising money for an Asian women’s refuge center. The construction began in 1985 and the center is to open in April 1986. Ironically the first efforts of the WCTU in this area had been in 1894, on behalf of the karayuki-san (women sold by impoverished peasant families into overseas prostitution, including in the Philippines) to help them to return home with dignity.39 Economic circumstances between the Philippines and Japan had since been reversed, as was the nature of the prostitution problem. Catholic groups also organized counselling and refuge centers for Filipino girls caught in this trap, and their plight was sometimes portrayed on Japanese television.

The Japanese police seemed to be more concerned , however , about one of the other dimensions of yakuza activity in the Philippines, the smuggling of handguns. It was a more direct threat. In April of 1984 the police seized an illegal shipment of 301 guns aboard a container ship, and identified Hitoshi Kaneda, living in Manila, as the head of the smuggling ring. At first the Philippine government was unwilling to extradite Kaneda, who had apparently made some generous gifts to certain high officials. But in May 1985 he was handed over to Japanese police at the Manila airport.40 While the trafficking may now be brought under control, the negative image which many Japanese and Filipinos acquired of each other as a result of this interlude will take some time, and a lot of good news, to counteract.


Whatever negative images of Japan which may flow from the increased inequality and intensity of economic and human interaction, they would be more salient were it not for the overwhelming American presence in the Philippines. The “over presence” theory quite properly accounts for American investment and trade as a factor reducing anti-Japanese sentiment. But it has no place for the political, military or cultural presence, which are at least as significant. While there is a strong Filipino tendency to share American cultural values, it is also true that Filipino nationalism for nearly 90 years has struggled with what was called at different stages American imperialism, colonialism, or more recently neo-colonialism. The steady political, economic and military support for the Marcos regime earned it the sobriquet from many of its opponents “the U.S.-Marcos dictatorship”. In 1970 among 200 Filipino students, obviously caught up in the nationalist mood of that time, 72% identified the U.S. as a threat to their country, the highest percentage naming the U.S. among students in an ASEAN country.41 Only 58% identified Japan as a threat, less than among Singapore students, but higher than among Thai. The respondents were already in the postwar generation and thus had no memory of Japanese military might. But in 1970 the older generation were still quite wary of a militarist revival in Japan.

The crux of the matter is that the Filipino nationalist movement, both Marxist and non-Marxist has been so busy analyzing, criticizing and organizing around the American threat that there has been little time left for Japan. When Jose Ma. Sison (under the pen name Amado Guerrero) wrote Philippine Society and Revolution in 1970 Japanese investment was still only 10% of U.S. holdings in the Philippines, and it received no mention. Four years later when he wrote Specific Characteristics of our People’s War considerably more mention was made of Japan, but not as a threat or an exploiter. The first major Filipino treatment of the Japanese role was by Raul Manglapus, Japan in SE Asia: Collision Course. In it he did raise the spectre of a Japanese threat, but he was writing at the request of the Carnegie Endowment shortly after the Tanaka riots, and was expected to represent views of all SE Asians, not just Filipinos.

Not until the end of the 1970s did there begin to be a Manila-based nationalist literature criticising the growing Japnese role in the Philippines. Ever since the declaration of martial law the government-dominated Manila-centered press had been full of laudatory accounts of the benefits of Japanese investment. But new outlets for expression were found. Renato Constantino’s The Second Invasion in 1979 was the most comprehensive treatment at the time, and remains so. He has helped to spawn similar treatments by Sta. Romana, Randolf David, and Eduardo Tadem, all of the University of the Philippines. Tadem’s “The Japanese Presence in the Philippines: A Critical Reassessment”, prepared for an international symposium at Sophia University in Tokyo, is the most recent major analysis.

As early as 1974 ex-Sen. Jovito Salonga—who with Senate colleagues Lorenzo Tanada and Lorenzo Sumulong had stopped ratification of the Japanese treaty in 1972—mentioned the Japanese threat in a lecture on “The Role of the MNCs in Development”, and later helped stimulate the concern of Protestant colleagues in that direction. They together protested the signing of the revised Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation. In 1979 another prominent opposition leader and banker also criticized the Treaty and condemned Japanese economic policy: “Japan clearly intends to make of us sustained suppliers of cheap raw materials and buyers of her own finished products at dictated prices Is Japan to dominate us again? Is this the second invasion?42

One saw here a pattern not uncommon of attempting to link current criticism of the economic role with dark memories of war.

In 1983 there was formed under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines a Committee on Philippines-Japan Concerns, which later reconstituted itself as a Foundation. Its projects included the submission of a brief to the Minister of Labor in support of Philippine unions in Japanese corporations. The brief condemned the “neo-colonial pattern” of increasing Japanese investment and credit, and also warned that the government “must not lose sight of the growing resurgence of Japan as a military power in Asia”.43

This warning about the Japanese military build-up found parallels in comments by Tadem and Constantino, but it was a tiny voice indeed compared to the chorus of protest about U.S. bases. In the meantime, in addition to an escalating military budget Japan was taking ever so cautious steps for a measured reassertion of a military role in the Philippines. Japanese naval vessels visited Manila, while Filipino officers were invited to Japan for consultation; about 1979 a Japanese naval officer was attached as military attache to the Japanese Embassy.44 Marcos was reputed to have sought military aid from Japan during his state visit in 1977; but Prime Minister Fukuda gave him no encouragement.45 Japan has also adhered to a strict policy of no weapons exports. “On the other hand, there have been exports of para-military equipment to [ASEAN] nations on a small scale…such as the sale of trucks and jeeps to be used for troop transport, telecommunications equipment to be used by the military, the contracting of private firms to construct…naval ports, etc.”.46

Not until 1984, because of the increased Japanese economic assistance that was so crucial for the survival of the Marcos regime, did the Filipino nationalist movement mount protest action. When Prime Minister Nakasone made his first visit to Manila in May, eight progressive organizations signed and circulated a report entitled: “Japan’s Second Philippine Invasion”. Backers included Kilusang Mayo Uno, the labor federation, League of Filipino Students, Cavite-Laguna-Rizal Fishermen’s Association, and other sectoral groups. Fisherman and workers from Navotas, Rizal picketed Nakasone’s hotel,protesting Japanese employers who withhold wages and Japanese fishing trawlers which reduce the catch of small fishermen.47 After the announcement of a new $247 million loan to the Philippines, former Senator Lorenzo Tanada, chairman of the Nationalist Alliance, and Butz Aquino of ATOM and CORD led a demonstration outside the Japanese Embassy, while Reagan, Nakasone and Marcos were burned in effigy.

Two months previously Sen. Tanada had made an unprecedented trip to Tokyo. He had gone with the hope of influencing the Japanese Diet’s deliberations on additional aid for the Philippines. Never before had an opposition Filipino politician attempted to make an impact on the Japanese policy process. Perhaps he did not realize it at the time, but the decision was fraught with controversy, even within the cabinet.48 In any case all that Tanada could do was meet with Diet oppositionists, led by Upper House Councillor Hideo Den and his informal Philippine Study Group. Diet members were impressed by his forceful message, but could not buck Liberal Democratic Party discipline. Tanada stressed that if the loan was given, Japan should at least carefully monitor its use.49

It appears that the trip was not at Tanada’s initiative; he was invited by a small non-Communist left wing party called Minshu Heiwa Undo, or MPD (Movement for Peace and Democracy). Its arrangements were, of course, essential for a fruitful visit. This party has continued to maintain close contact with the Philippine nationalist movement, as well as with the opposition in South Korea.

While this intervention was unique in Japan, it has been a familiar pattern for opposition politicians from Manila to visit Washington and meet Congressmen. This reemphasizes the point that Philippine preoccupation with the American presence and the pressure inherent therein has had the effect of relieving Japan of a lot of criticism. Thus if U.S. influence in the Philippines should be reduced, Japan would quickly feel the effects. The Tanada visit also calls attention to the function of new kinds of Philippine-Japan linkages, which we will treat in the next section.


So far we have talked of trends which have or could increase the negative content of mutual images. But fortunately there are more positive trends as well. Improved images are likely to be the result of generational change and of increased “people to people” contact.

A. Generational change on the Philippine side means, of course, the increasing ability to forget the war. The 1983 Gaimusho survey of ASEAN countries provided evidence of such a sharp shift on this question that one is almost inclined to be a bit skeptical, especially since the survey sample included 40% over 34 years of age. Those reporting that they could not forget the bad experiences during the war dropped from 45% in 1979 to 20% in 1983, while those saying that “Japan’s wartime role never disturbed me” rose from 14% to 36%. Responses to both questions put Filipinos in the most positive position towards Japan of any ASEAN country, an unlikely result.

But there are many other indicators of a shift. The publication of a book in 1978, Philippine-Nippon Tales, would not have been possible earlier. It was written by a retired professor of English at the University of Philippines, Alfonso Santos, who travelled throughout the country to gather accounts of incidents in which Japanese military were gentle and kind, including those in which they saved Filipino lives. Alfonso recounts 87 stories, of one to four pages in length, with titles such as “The Japanese Family Friend”, “Music Has Charms”, “They Spared My Grandfather”, or “Not All of Them Were Bad”. It is probably well to remember, however, that there are probably many more stories, not recorded, that tell of cruelty and death.

Family socialization often allows even the younger generation to remember the horrors of the war. The schools contribute too. A former JOCV volunteer tells of the Filipino family with whom he was living where an elementary school girl blurted out at the supper table one evening, “I don’t like Japanese!” Her father asked why, and she answered, “Because they did bad things to Filipinos during the war.” On further questioning, the girl said she had learned this at school.50 Thus a precipitate change in image is improbable.

A 1985 survey of students at Ateneo de Manila High School by the author found 57.7% of them classifying Japan as “a peace loving country”. Thus a 60% support for that proposition by a generationally representative sample in the Gaimusho survey may have been a bit high. But there is no question that moods are changing.

Generation change on the Japanese side may in some cases create a youthful arrogance without historical perspective, since so little about the war is taught in public schools. But a massive study of 3829 students in 44 high schools across Japan in 1984 revealed an image pattern that should have favorable implications for the Philippines.51 One question revealed the heavily Western orientation of Japanese youth. When asked, “For which part of the world do you have close feelings?”, 46.9% answered Europe and North America and only 28.8%, Asia, out of which 24% said they felt close to China. Only 1.6% chose SE Asia. While this last figure must be especially disappointing for people from ASEAN countries, at least the overall response would reduce the tendency to feel, as in the older generation, that a society’s worth was measured by its Ajia den to. One cause of Japanese disdain for Filipinos is thus being removed by generation change.

Furthermore, the ahistorical arrogance that one might have feared did not appear to be present. When asked, “Do you think that Japanese are regarded kindly by other Asians?”, only 12.8% said “yes”, while 56.4% said “no”, and 27.2%, “don’t know”. The “no’s” were asked to explain their answer and the two most frequently chosen explanations were, “because Japanese have strong superior feelings toward Asian people”, and “because Japan invaded Asia in the past”. The awareness of a gap was also found in response to the question, “Do you think Japan is really an Asian country?” Nearly 62% said “no” and only 28%, “yes”. Confidence was not lacking, but it did not seem to spawn blind arrogance. While 72% thought that Japan was the leader in Asia in the fields of economics, science and technology, and another 20% saw Japan as leader in all fields, 2/3 admitted that Japan took advantage of Asians in the course of her relationships with the region. And when asked to choose a statement that best expressed their views on the textbook revision controversy, nearly half remarked, “Because the historical facts seemed to be distorted by the authorized textbooks, it is only natural to have criticisms from foreign countries which actually experienced damage during the war”. Less than 12% chose defensively nationalistic comments.

Despite the initial disinterest in Asia, especially beyond China, an overwhelming 72% agreed when asked if they thought it was important to increase friendship and mutual understanding with Asia. Explanations for this answer were mostly sentimental or ideological, but a large minority were quite pragmatic, e.g. “in order to recognize accurately the Japanese position in Asia”.

If this is an accurate cross section of Japanese youth’s images of Asia, then generational change will indeed improve the relationship. In fact, the attitudinal shift both facilitates and is fueled by the new phenomena of “people to people” relations, the second major factor to contribute to more positive mutual images.

B. Some types of “people to people” exchanges are newer than others. The first, and older, type was more likely to receive government assistance or at least be encouraged by government officials, for it complemented government policy.

The “people to people” approach was first launched by the Japanese government itself in 1965 with the establishment of the Japan OVerseas Cooperation Volunteers . In fact, when it began, there were several provinces in the Philippines where it was still regarded as unsafe for Japanese visitors. Idealistic, well-trained youth were an appropriate “advance column” for the Japanese return to the Philippines.

Over the years the Philippine contingent of JOCV has become the largest in the world, with 98 volunteers resident in 1984.52 (Thailand and Malaysia are the only other ASEAN countries where JOCV is active). The size of the program was probably determined by Japanese priorities, by the initial ease of contact in English (though all volunteers are now trained in a Philippine language), and the proverbial Filipino hospitality to foreigners.

Some volunteers go primarily intent on achieving a particular goal of assistance—usually those with highly technical training—while others are looking for an “intercultural experience” or simply “to make friends”.53

The success of the program is measured in part by the fact that after nearly 700 volunteers have come and gone, Filipinos do not remember any particularly unpleasant incident. More positively, nearly 10% of the Japanese volunteers have married Filipinos.

Within a few years after JOCV began operating in the Philippines, a private organization with government assistance also began to bring in young Japanese agriculturists to provide technical assistance, and to train young Filipinos in Japan. The groups’ name was “Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement”, OISCA, founded in 1961 by Rev. Yonosuke Nakano, leader of a post-war religious sect, Ananai-kyo. By 1983 336 agricultural experts had been sent to the Philippines by OISCA and 245 Filipinos had been trained at OISCA centers in Japan. (Nearly twice that number of Malaysians had attended OISCA training). The tone of OISCA activities is set by its present president, Dr. Yoshiko Nakano, who warns that “materialistic approaches to the solution of the [North-South] problem will only result in growing differences and animosities rather than harmonious relations”, and thus stresses the spiritual dimension.54

Miss Nakano has assured continued Japanese government funding for her projects by organizing a parliamentary support group, which in 1983 numbered 230, all LOP. In 1978 this group had included seven members of the Fukuda cabinet. In the Philippines OISCA organized a national chapter, which now has 19 branches with seven rural development and youth training projects in Mindanao, Negros, Palawan, Mindoro and Luzon. In 1982 Prime Minister Virata inducted the new chapter officers; Gov. Arsenio Villaroza of Mindoro Occidental was president. Many OISCA projects were associated with the KKK; in fact, in October 1983 certificates of appreciation for OISCA were presented by the First Lady in MalacaƱang.55 Obviously this is a type of “people to people” exchange which is hardly disruptive of official relations.

Japanese Rotary clubs began projects in the Philippines from the early 1970s. By 1984 there were 60 World Community Service Projects funded by Japanese and implemented by Philippine clubs. Fire engines, used clothes, medical instrument and supplies, “sanitary facilities”, scholarships and sponsorship of needy children through the Christian Children’s Welfare Fund were among the projects.56 Japanese Rotarians frequently went to the Philippines to inspect the projects and to get acquainted, often on the golf course, with their Filipino brethern. In addition to the WCS Projects there were many more arranged on an ad hoc basis between Japanese and Philippine clubs, of which there is no central record. Some projects were rather strategically located, such as the one providing sanitation for a school in Navotas, Rizal, where fisherman had frequently protested Japanese encroachment. The entire program was clearly useful in strengthening ties between upper middle class men in the two societies, contributing to more positive mutual images at that level.

A somewhat similar effort was launched in the late 1970s by Prime Minister Fukuda to carry out his proposal for more “heart to heart contact” with ASEAN countries. Recognizing that 26,000 students from the ASEAN region had at one time or another studied in Japanese schools (with another 54,000 having undergone “training”), Fukuda invited ASEAN alumni to a reunion in 1974, and it became an annual affair. In 1977 this group was organized into the ASEAN Council of Japan (ASCOJA), spurred in part by the urging of some ASEAN alumni. And after Fukuda’s ASEAN tour of that year, during which some ASEAN a1umni organized welcome parties for him, a Japanese support group was also formed, the Japan Solidarity Committee for Asian Alumni. Fukuda is the honorary chairman, and for many years the chairman was Shigeo Nagana, president of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 1984 JAASCA launched a scholarship fund with an endowment of Y400 million, designed to bring “junior leaders” to Japan from ASEAN for a few months—patterned after Eisenhower Fellowships, it was said.

The current head of ASCOJA is Leocadio de Asis, a wartime ryugakusei from the Philippines. De Asis, a lawyer and businessman, also heads the Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni, an ASCOJA affiliate. (It is not, however, the only association of Japanese university alumni in the Philippines).57 Former Ambassador Jose Laurel III has also been active in ASCOJA,and will, in fact, be in charge of the selection of JAASCA fellows from the Philippines.

The whole range of ASCOJA and JAASCA activity has, in fact, relied very heavily on the leadership of the wartime ryugakusei, partly, of course, because they include senior people in the political and economic circles of their respective countries. One JAASCA publication about ryugakusei caught in Hiroshima in August 194558 is quite nostalgic and helps describe the context in which these old ties are being revived: “Did the government achieve its objective with the SE Asian Ryugakusei? In fact, it can be said the Ryugakusei have made a strong bond of friendship between their mother countries and Japan. The most distinguishing characteristic of all Ryugakusei is that they support Japan strongly in their respective countries’ trade relationship with Japan. It may have been in the Philippines that the Ryugakusei received the worst treatment after their return home but they hold feelings of affection and respect toward Japan and her people. Perhaps a little unexpectedly their experiences in Japan proved very beneficial in their careers”. Several are, in fact, engaged in joint ventures with Japanese business.

These, and a number of other organizational exchange programs, e.g. Lions, former Manila residents, and others, promote camaraderie within the framework of existing political-economic ties between Japan and the Philippines. Given the ages of most Japanese involved, there is still considerable paternalism in their approach to most Filipinos.

The second type of “people to people” relations is of a very different character, with the possibility of a much more profound impact on mutual images, since it involves both Japanese and Filipinos breaking stereotypes that each have held of the other. This type of relationship frequently includes as well rather direct criticism of the policies of both governments. These activities are initiated by those Bishop Julio Lebayan calls “humanists”.

The small Christian church in Japan, in both its Catholic and Protestant manifestations, has had a disproportionately large role in these activities. In fact, the Japanese Committee for Philippine Concerns (JCPC), which fulfills a very weak coordinating function for many of these groups, is church supported. Under the JCPC umbrella are Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist organizations, as well as labor unions, consumer, human rights and environmental groups, and some small but quite creative publications and dramatic groups. It will only be possible to describe a few in any detail. The perspective of this account will be primarily from the Japanese end because in Japan such groups have been better funded and thus better able to take initiatives than their Philippine counterparts, even though without a positive Philippine response the linkages established would not survive. In any case, the asymmetric language barrier, which we have already described, favors Japanese leadership. These activities have been initiated not just in Tokyo, but in several Japanese cities: Nagoya and Osaka are particularly active.

Fr. Noel Keizo Yamada, S.J., a professor at Jochi Daigaku (Sophia Univ.), went to the Philippines for the fist time in 1975 for a Church conference. Afterwards he was taken by a Filipino Jesuit to Mindanao and was shown the site of the Kawasaki Steel sintering plant, soon after construction began. He found that this Y62 billion Japanese investment was to displace some 2,000 people from their land and was to spew forth extremely toxic pollution. In fact, about the same time in Chiba—just across Tokyo Bay from Japan’s megalopolis—while citizens’ groups were fighting Kawasaki pollution there which had killed scores of patients, the steel company attempted to reassure them: “Don’t worry, because we are moving those dirty plants to Mindanao”.59

The Chiba Citizen’s Anti-Pollution Movement, then under Communist Party influence was suing Kawasaki, but was not aware of the Philippine scene. Fr. Yamada, after further investigation in Mindanao, and the assistance of PARC and some Tokyo University researchers, brought the plight of Filipinos before the Chiba citizens, and persuaded them to adopt the slogan “Don’t Make Mindanao a Second Chiba~” (The concern with the Philippine situation was so great, in fact, that since the Communists in the movement seemed uninterested in that dimension, the Anti-Pollution Movement chose new leadership). Kawasaki tried to pretend that they were actually being welcomed by Filipinos in Mindanao, while the opposition there was actually being crushed, with two leaders apparently kidnapped. The corporation’s initial response to Filipinos was, in essence, “since we are helping you to develop, why complain to us about pollution”. One company official asked, “Isn’t going barefoot worse than pollution of the environment?” But Fr. Yamada was sufficiently successful in getting the Philippine facts before the Japanese public, through Asahi and Mainichi, and to Filipinos in Manila that eventually Kawasaki was forced to increase its expenditures on pollution control devices. The Filipinos in Mindanao were amazed at the committed action of Japanese in Chiba; and as a result both reached a new level of mutual understanding.60

In this issue the Catholic Council for Justice and Peace was quite active. Other Catholic initiatives were also multiplying. In 1981 the Association of Major Religious Superiors in Japan began to send groups of 25-30 sisters to the Philippines for two weeks of exposure to the realities of the Third World. They have thus begun to see Japan from a Third World perspective, and since many are high school teachers, the exposure tours have had some impact on Catholic high schools.61

At the local level a parish in Ohnomichi, Hiroshima-ken, has established an exchange with Gen. Nakar parish in Infanta; over five years there were four trips to the Philippines, and one visit to Japan, at Japanese expense. But Ohnomichi has no “aid program” for Gen. Nakar. The parish priest in Gen. Nakar was obviously very progressive, having been the previous director of the Luzon Secretariat for Social Action. Since many Catholic people in Gen. Nakar were protesting a port, dam, airport and other Japanese-aided construction projects because of the way in which the land had been acquired, some in the small Ohnomichi parish had strong reservations about the exchange. They feared that it would appear that the Japanese Catholics were “anti-government”. But this was an exchange that seemed to avoid the paternalism that often characterized older projects.

On the Protestant side there were also a variety of exhanges and cooperative action. In Tokyo in 1983 a joint consultation between the National Council of Churches of the Philippine and its Japanese counterpart, discussed prostitution, pollution, Japanese investment, and “the challenge of mission”. The chaplain at Rikkyo University, Rev. Christopher Ohgo, has taken about 50 students every summer for the last several years to a work camp in Sagada, Mt. Province, with exposure tours as well to the slums of Tondo and the factories of Navotas. The Philippine Episcopal Church has sent trainees for some time to the Asian Rural Institute in Japan. But while some inter-church contacts wtih Japan have been going on for years, Filipinos are impressed with the proliferation of Japanese Philippine support groups since 1983. Their gauge of increased activity is the frequency of invitations to Filipinos to speak in Tokyo and elsewhere.62

There were also exchanges in the labor field. The major federations, from left to right, were not active, though Domei had formal links with the government-sponsored Trade Union Congress of the Philippines. Despite the progressive rhetoric even Sohyo has shown almost no concern for the Philippines. Thus contact with Kilusang Mayo Uno, the largest Philippine federation, which was anti-Marcos, was primarily through smaller unions, such as the National Union of General Workers, based on small and medium firms.

Over the past few years there have been from 10 to 20 visits by KMU representatives to Japan, usually invited by Christian groups.63 In July 1984 a group of Japanese labor movement and Philippine support group representatives visited the head office of Mitsubishi Corporation to protest against the illegal dismissal of union leaders at Interasia, a Mltsubishi subsidiary in the Bataan Export Processing Zone, which triggered a strike during which the Zone police assaulted workers. The Mitsubishi official who met the protesters claimed that the dispute had “already been settled”, and offered the additional comment that “Filipinos are poor because they are lazy”, according to a protest spokesperson.64 This was a type of labor action relatively new to Japan which earned deep gratitude when reported to Filipino workers.

Certainly the most innovative way in which young Japanese have attempted to relate to the Philippines in recent years is expressed in the Ajia Idobata-kai, or Asian Well Society. In 1980 a Waseda University anthropology student, Miss Mikiko Wada, went to the Philippines, guided to Agusan Province by a staff member in the Ecumenical Rural Health Project. She was particularly impressed with the importance of clean water as a key to health, and talked to Japanese friends about her concern on return. She soon learned that in nearby Chiba Prefecture there was a traditional method of well drilling still used that might be “appropriate technology” for Filipino peasants, who could not afford the most modern methods. (She had not read Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful)65 Through mutual friends she was introduced to Mr. Harutsugu Kondo, one of the few remaining practitioners of this ancient skill, which utilizes bamboo poles and very little metal machinery. Mr. Kondo had retired from his trade in 1955, and then from farming altogether in 1970 and was working as a security guard. But after an appropriate amount of sake,66 Miss Wada persuaded him that he should teach his skill to Filipino farmers. In 1981 she returned to Agusan to tell the farmers what she discoverd, and they expressed great interest in kazusa-bori, the traditional techology.

Meanwhile an independent film maker had become interested in kazusa-bori, because of the display at the Chiba Prefectural Museum, where Mr. Kondo worked, and produced a film about the process. When shown to classes at Sophia University, a number of students became quite interested. There was such enthusiasm, in fact, that funds were raised to send Mr. Kondo, the film maker and the film to Agusan. The Filipino audiences were fascinated, and Mr. Kondo, in a preliminary feasibility study, found that the sandy soils in the area he visited were suitable for kazusa-bori. Hearing this report on his return, optimism fueled the establishment of the Asian Well Society at Sophia University. In 1982 Mr. Kondo again went to Agusan, to do more carefulresearch and to begin to train local farmers. Returning to Mindanao a third time in July 1983, along with several student members of the Society, Mr. Kondo began the drilling; the first well was completed in late August, and soon the Filipino farmers were able to complete new wells on their own.67

Just at this peak of activity, however, when more young Japanese were being trained by Mr. Kondo, a split occurred in the Society. It was to a
The transfer of technology proceeded, however, without the Asian Well Society. Mr. Kondo went to Thailand with OISCA for a brief tour, and a student he trained went to Malaysia with JOCV to teach kazusa-bori. In 1986 he returned to the Philippines to begin a project under Rotary sponsorship in Bago, Negros. His technology had practically died in Chiba, but will live on in the Philippines. Mr. Kondo claims that one of his wells will last for 50 years. Though he still speaks no English, the message he has given to many Filipinos is certainly a positive one. Miss Wada does not regret what she started.

Though less constructive, in any concrete sense, the story of Rutsuki Fujisaki is more poignant, and will certainly have a lasting impact on the images of many Filipinos about Japan. The daughter of a Japanese pastor and graduate in social welfare from the Japan Lutheran Theological Seminary, Rutsuki went to the Philippines in 1982 to enroll in the community development program at the University of the Philippines. (She had attended a work camp in Botolan, Zambales a few years before, and had long considered returning). During Holy Week in April 1983 she returned to Botolan with UP classmates to revisit the Botolan Social Action Center under the direction of Sister Fe Villanueva. On Saturday afternoon they went swimming. Very quickly an undertow pulled out to sea one of the Filipinas and Rutsuki, who was a strong swimmer, tried to rescue her. But Rutsuki too was pulled under, and before some of the strong fishermen nearby were able to launch their small boat, she had drowned; resuscitation efforts failed. For someone who had been so kind and so helpful, it was a very special loss. Said the Dean of St. Andrew’s Seminary, where she boarded, “As a Filipino I would like to point out that Rutsuki has presented a different image of the Japanese to the Filipino.

“Older Filipinos know of the image of a Japanese soldier or kamikaze [sic]. Most Filipinos now know of the Japanese tourists. But these images of the Japanese are not the same as the image that Rutsuki has projected. For Rutsuki has come to extend service;…to love the Philippines and to make many friends… [She was] a Japanese who gave her life for Filipinos”.68

A visitor to Botolan several weeks later was told a remarkable story by the villagers. “One day after her death, more than 1000 fish were caught in the fishing nets of the village, though around a dozen fish was a usual haul. It was the biggest catch that the villagers had ever experienced—and they believed that it was a miracle due to Rutsuki”.69 A new image of Japan had become incorporated into Filipino folk religion.


In conclusion, we must reemphasize the necessity of looking at the cultural implications of the historical legacy as well as at socio-economic factors determining national images. The “over presence” thesis of Japanese economists trying to explain anti-Japanese sentiment in SE Asia, even without incorporating the cultural dimension, would have to be expanded to include the movement of persons as well as of yen and trade goods. Tourists certainly may contribute to “over presence”. Though this theory has only been applied to an effort to understand attitudes toward Japan, it is also true that the overpresence of Filipino “entertainers” in Japan produces negative images of the Philippines. In any case the likelihood that Japanese presence in the Philippines will continue to displace the American could produce attitudes that would validate that thesis. But in the next generation such a displacemnt may still not be sufficient to remove the U.S. from the role of main target of Philippine nationalism.

We have noted that increased inequality facilitates the growth of negative images, even as generational change helps to erase harsh memories and thus contribute to improved images. But it would be very difficult to say which trend is stronger. And even as Filipino wartime images recede, their revival is capable of being triggered by relatively minor incidents. There’ is no evidence that since 1972 domestic political controversy has motivated Filipino attacks on Japan, such as the “Tanaka riots” in Indonesia, though this may well have been a factor in the non-ratification of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation before ma~l law. But this could become a factor in the future. The opposition in Japan made a feeble effort to criticize Nakasone for his late-in-the-day increase of aid to Marcos in 1984, but inspite of the great growth in interest in the last few years, the Philippines has not yet become an issue in Japan salient enough to allow any group to make significant capital out of support or opposition to Japanese-Philippine policy, another dimension of inequality.

The impact of the new type of “people to people” linkages, which challenges the status quo, is also practically impossible to quantify. But it is likely that their power to shape mutual images will be much greater than the number of people or the strength of the organizations involved would indicate. These exchanges involve highly participant segments of each society, with a strong moral framework for their action, and with relatively good access to communication media. The nature of these linkages, with primarily Japanese initiatives, also illustrates the pervasive impact of inequality.

The second type of “people to people” exchange is likely to be an especially potent force for improved images because neither war guilt nor a desire for more trade or investment seem to be the primary motivation, as with so much earlier activity. A sincere pursuit of peace, human rights and social justice or the application of appropriate technology jointly by Filipinos and Japanese will surely improve the mutual images of the two people more, just as side effect, than an endeavor which consciously sets out to do just that. If these exchanges continue to grow, and acquire an increasing mutuality of spirit, that is the most hopeful dimension of Philippine-Japanese relations now apparent.


1 Karl Oeutsch, The Nerves of Government (N.Y. Free Press, 1963).

2 The Image (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959).

3 There is a considerable literature on Japan-SE Asian relations some of which helps to provide background for this paper: Bernard Gordon, “Japan, the US & SE Asia”, Foreign Affairs, (April 1978), 579-600; Donald Hellman, “Japan and SE Asia: Continuity Amidst Change”, Asian Survey, XIX: 12 (Dec. 1979), 1189-1198; S. Ichimura, “Japan and SE Asia”, Asian Survey, XX (July 1980), 754-62; Frank Langdon, “Japanese Policy toward SE Asia”, in M. Zacher and R. S. Milne, eds., Conflict and Stability in SE Asia, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974), 327-354; Raul Manglapus, Japan in SE Asia: Collision Course (NY: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1976); Lawrence Olson, Japan in Postwar Asia (NY: Praeger, 1970); Josefa Saniel, “Japan’s Thrust in SE Asia in the Sixties”, paper read at Seminar on ‘SE Asia in the Modern World’, Institute fur Asienkunde, Hamburg, Germany, April 1970, 44 pp; M. Shinohara, The Japanese Economy and SE Asia (Tokyo: IDE, 1977); Toru Yano, “The New Era of ASEAN & Japan”, SOlidarity, X:4 (July-Aug. 1976), 3-5; L. Yoshihara, Japanese Investment in SE Asia (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1978). On the question of images in the relationship the literature, more limited, includes: Renato Constantino, “Third World View of Japan”, Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX:3 (1979), 362-9; Willard Elsbree, “Japan and ASEAN in the 1980s”, SE Asian Affairs 1981, 49-61; T. Ikehata, “ASEAN Reluctant to Accept Japanese Imposition”, Business Japan, XXII: 10 (Oct. 1977), 36-38; Sumiko Iwao and Shigeki Hagiwara, Zai-Nichi Ryugakusei no Tai-Nichi Imeji [Images of Japan of resident foreign students] (Tokyo: Shimbun Kenkyjo Nenpo, Keio University, 1978, 1979); Yasumasa Tanaka, “A Cross-CUltural Study of National Stereotypes Held by American and Japanese College Graduate Subjects”, Japanese Psychological Research, IV: 2(1962), 65-78; K. Toba, “Toward Genuine Exchanges with SE Asia”, Asian Pacific Community, 11 (Fall 1978)” 69-77; Toru Yano, “SE Asia: A Kaleidoscope of Japanese Images”, Kyoto Lhiversity Center for SE Asian Studies, Sept. 1975, Discussion Paper no. 80; and Hiros~li Wagatsuma, “Some Cultural Assumptions among the Japanese”, Japan Quarterly. (1984) 371-9. The specific literature on Japan-Philippine relations is also limited; included are: E. R. Sta. Romana, “Dependency and Philippine-Japanese Economic Relations”, Japan Interpreter, XII: 2 (Spring 1978), 234-47; Renato Constantino, The Second Invasion: Japan in the Philippines (Manila: 1979); Akira Takahashi, “Firipin to Nihon”, Kokusai Keizai, 152 (1976); Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Firipin to Nihon (1958); Yoshiyuki Tsurumi, Ajia 0 Shiru Tameni [In order to know Asia], (Tokyo: Chikama Books, 1981); Yoshiyuki Tsurumi, Banana to Nihonjin (Tokyo: Iwanami, 1982); Tsuneo Ayabe and Akira Nagazumi, eds., Motto Shiritai Firi in [I want to know more about the Philippines], (Tokyo: Kobundo, 1982 ; Julio Lebayan, “Firipin”, Sekai, 457 (Dec. 1983), 169-173; Unda Guilatco, “Japan in the Philippines: 1947-1977”, AMPO, IX:2 (July-Nov. 1977), 72-81.

4 Trade: Takeo Tsuchiya, “The Japanese Sphere of Influence: Multinational Investment in Asia”, AMPO, XVI: 1-2 (1984), 58. Investment: Japan, Ministry of Finance, reported at 11th Conference of Japan-Philippine Economic Cooperation Committees, Manila, November 8-9, 1984.

5 Japan International Cooperation Agency, Annual Reports, 1984, p. 410 [in Japanese].

6 International Conference on Human Values, Survey in 13 Countries of Human Values, p. 27 (Tokyo 1980).

7 Interview with Takushi Ohno, Tokyo, April 4, 1985.

8 Ibid.

9 Quoted in Elpidio Sta. Romana, “Dependency and the Philippine-Japan Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation: Focus on Trade and Investment”, MA Thesis, University of the Philippines, 1976, p. 10.

10 The teaching of the Japanese language began at the University of the Philippines in 1960, and in the next two decades course enrollment in the first semester rose to more than 100. By 1983 six other university campuses also enrolled more than 100 students in Japanese language courses. Even at the University of the Philippines, with a major graduate program in Asian Studies, enrollment dropped off sharply however, in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th semesters. Not until 1975 was “intensive Japanese” offered. From 1968 the Japan Information and CUltural Center, attached to the Embassy, also offered language classes. By 1983 more than 300 were enrolled for the first quarter. But their enrollment also dropped sharply in the more advanced classes. (See Josefa Saniel, “Japan Studies in the Philippines: Developments and Prospects”, [Asian Center, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, 1984, Occasional Papers, Series 11, No. 1]). It appeared that the incentive was not strong enough to lead Filipino students to mastery of Japanese on the basis of study in Manila, and very few went to Japan for the requisite 1-2 years of full-time language study.

11 Interview, Feb. 13, 1985, Manila.

12 Interview, Feb. 13, 1985, Manila.

13 Eliseo Quirino, A Day to Remember (Manila, 1961), 251.

14 Renato Constantino, The Second Invasion: Japan in the Philippines (Manila, 1979), 26.

15 Philipine Collaboration in World War II, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967 , p. 56.

16 Ibid., p. 57.

17 Theodore Friend, Between Two Empires: The ordeal of the Philippines 1929-1946” (New Haven: Yale Un1vers1ty Press, 1965 , p. 232.

18 Interview, Manila, Feb. 13, 1985.

19 Bottom spot was shared, somewhat surprisingly, by Malaysia, perhaps because of primary Japanese contact with an Anglicized elite. See Nippon Reserach Center, Ltd., “A Summary Report on the Syndicated Study on Japanese Perceptions of and Attitudes Toward Foreign Countries”, Feb. 1984.

20 Japan Times, May 2, 1985.

21 Interview, Feb. 18, 1985, Manila.

22 Hiroo Suzuki , “Uberalizing Textbook Screening”, Keizai orai, Oct. 1982, translated in Japan Echo, IX:4 (1982), p. 23.

23 Calculated from Japan Customs Statistics, in Eduardo Tadem, “The Japanese Presence in the Philippines: A Critical Re-Assessment”, Third World Studies Center, Univ. of the Philippines, Jan. 1983, 16.

24 Central Bank of the Philippines, in Ibid., 19.

25 Japan, Minister of Justice, Annual Report of Immigration Statistics.

26 KDD International Telephone and Telegraph, Annual Report of Overseas Telegraph and Telephone.

27 See Kiyoshi Kojima, Ja anese Direct Forei n Investment: A Model of Multinational Business Operations, Tokyo: Charles Tuttle, 1978 , ch. 8; and Shigekazu Matsumoto, “Nihon no Tonan Ajia keizai enjo to seiji rikigaku” [Japan’s economic assistance to SE Asia and its poltical dynamics], in Nihon Kokusai Seiji Gakkai, ed., Kokusai Keizai no Seijigaku (Tokyo: 1978).

28 Gaimusho, Joho bunka kyoku, Kaigai kohoka, ASEAN goka koku tai nichi yoron chosa [Foreign Ministry CUltural Information Office, OVerseas Publication Section, “ASEAN Five Country Opinion Survey on Japan”] (Nov. 1983) .

29 K. Nitz, “National Power and SE Asia in Japanese International Image: An Exploration”, Asian Profile, X:4 (August 1982), 365-386.

30 S. Eto, “The Need for Magnanimity”, Seiron, (Nov. 1982), translated in Japan Echo, IX: 4 (1982), p. 41.

31 Keiichiro Kobori, “The Pitfalls of Easy Compromise”, Shokun (Oct. 1982), translated in Japan Echo, IX:4 (1982), 50.

32 Kimitada Miwa, “Not Another Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere”, Solidarity (1983), No. 1, 17.

33 Interview, Feb. 13, 1985.

34 Interview, Nov. 16, 1984, Mnai1a.

35ASEAN Five Country Opinion Survey on Japan,” Question 10.

36 Interview, April 10, 1985, Tokyo.

37 Japan, Ministry of Justice, Annual Report of Dnmigration Statistics.

38 Japan Times, Oct. 19, 1984.

39 Betty Swain, “Kyodan Woman Works for Asian Women’s Refuge Cent er”, Kyodan Newsletter, No. 191 (Jan. 20, 1985), 6.

40 Japan Times, Jan. 11, 1985; May 26, 1985.

41 Yasumasa Tanaka, “Pacific Basin Nations: A Cross-National Value-Attitude Study”, paper presented at the Canadian Society for Asian Studies, Fredericton, N.B., May 1977, table 7.

42 Tito Guingona, “Land of Bondage”, speech delivered at the lhiversity of Santo Tomas, July 27, 1979.

43 Letter to Minister Op1e from Rev. Toribio Cajiuat, Spokesman, Committee on Philippine-Japan Concrns, August 26, 1983.

44 Tadem, “The Japanese Presence in the Philippines”, p. 12.

45 New York Times, April 28, 1977.

46 Research Institute for Peace and Security, Asian Security 1981 (Tokyo 1918), 119. The Institute is partially government funded.

47 Amadis Ma. Guerrero, “The Japanese Threat”, Sunday Malaya, January 20, 1985, 14.

48 Interview, Shintaro Ishihara, MP, Tokyo, April 10, 1985.

49 Business Day, April 9, 1984, 3.

50 Interview with Yosuke Hasegawa, Tokyo, April 9, 1985.

51 Kazuo Shiroto, Masahiko Kurata, Aya Etsuda, Yoshitaka Murai, and Jun Yoshioka “Survey of High School Students Awareness of Asia, 1984” [in Japanese]

52 Japan International Cooperation Agency, Annual Report, 1984.

53 Interviews, May 24, 1985.

54 OISCA Bulletin Board, No. 8, July 1978.

55 OISCA Bulletin Board, No. 37, October 1983.

56 Rotary no Tomo, No. 22 (Spring 1985), 20ff.

57 For a full listing see Wilfrido Villacorta, “Japanese Presence in the Philippines: Filipino Reactions”, paper presented to the Confernece on Japan-ASEAN Relations, Japan Centre for International Exchange, Oiso, Japan, June 29-July 1, 1984.

58 JAASCA The Day A Sun Fell to the Earth: Foreign Students from SE Asia and the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima (Tokyo [ca.1984], 51.

59 Noel Yamada, S.J., “Japanese Responsibility in our Times: Facing the Invasion of Big Business into the Third World”, Sophia Economic Review (1979), 170. See also his “The Japanese TNCs and the Transfer of Technology to Asian Developing Countries”, paper presented to an international conference sponsored by International Federation of Catholic Universities, Lisbon, Portugal, Oct. 13, 1983.

60 Kawasaki’s pressure on Sophia, however, halting gifts and refusing to hire graduates, nearly cost Yamada his teaching position. He was saved by the intervention of the Jesuit Superior in Rome. (Interview, April 10, 1985, Tokyo).

61 Interview with Sister Filo Hirota, April 3, 1985; Tokyo. Sister Hirota spent some time as an assistant to Bishop Julio Lebayen in the Office of Human Development in Manila, which is under the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference. In that position she was an important link between Japan and the Philippines on human rights, social justice and pollution issues.

62 Interview with Danny Ocampo, chairman, Japan-Philippine Foundation, Feb. 12, 1985, Manila.

63 Interview with Ben Watanabe, NUGW, April 11, 1985, Tokyo.

64 Rodo Joho, No. 12 (1984), 6.

65 Interview with Miss Wada, March 20, 1985, Tokyo.

66 Interview with Harutsugu Kondo, Yokota, Chiba, May 18, 1985.

67 Asian Well Society, Asian Well Society : Its Activity and Development [in Japanese] (no date); Idobata News, in Japanese No. 13, Oct. 1984.

68 Rutsuki, Her Departure (Tokyo, 1985), 154-5.

69 Ibid., 206.

This research was made possible by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, from the University of Windsor and from the Joint Centre for Modern East Asia, University of Toronto York University. The invaluable assistance of Mr. Sueo Sudo, Mr. Satoshi Tanahashi, Mrs. Yoko Marushima, Miss Chieko Nabetani and Mr. Brad Zubyk is gratefully appreciated. The cooperation of numerous Filipinos and Japanese who granted interviews and provided materials was also essential for the endeavor, but for the most part they prefer to remain anonymous.