What do you think the Aikikai is intending by developing close relations with the SDF and various right-wing groups/people? Is this what is thought to be the true nature of Aikido in Japan? Or perhaps some kind of tangible benefit is sought?
Thank you for the mail. I intend to discuss this in more detail in later columns of TIE. However, I think the reference to Karel van Wolferen in the latest column is quite important. It is reasonable that an organization like the Aikikai would have links with many segments in Japanese society, rather than just one.
However, rather than any idea of specific intentions, I think the links that the Aikikai has with various groups in Japan are an outgrowth of wartime conditions and also of the need to restart the art, virtually from nothing, so to speak. The book by Max Hastings that I am reading paints a very clear picture of a totally demoralized nation in 1945, and makes much more vivid the rather casual remarks made by Kisshomaru Ueshiba in his own autobiography. Kisshomaru's preservation of the Hombu Dojo, for example, is a much more staggering achievement than he has been given credit for. The fire-bombing of Tokyo on March 9 1945 and afterwards caused more damage to life and property than the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima, but it is the latter event that has set the framework of postwar thinking in Japan on peace issues. In addition, the books of Takemae and Dower, cited in TIE 6 make clear just how much, and how little, changed after Japan's surrender.
I think the efforts of Kisshomaru to restart the art after the war deserve much closer study than they have been given. The study will also involve many issues that are being debated, such as the nature of aikido and of core waza and principles.