It was two years ago that I first learned of the existence of this speech.
Reading over it, I began thinking as to whether any of the politicians in Japan today would be capable of making such a speech. Needless to say I have my doubts.
It is often thought that the Japanese government ran full speed, completely devoted to the precepts of militarism following the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. However, there were people who stood up and sought to stem the tide. Takao Saitou was one of these individuals. He was gravely concerned about whether the national policy pursued by the government was really in the best interests of the people, and decided to literally confront the Cabinet and the rest of the government with these doubts at a session of the Imperial Diet held on February 2, 1940. The speech he gave came to be known as Takao Saitou’s Anti-Militarism Speech.
Takao Saitou’s Anti-Militarism Speech (Excerpt from the end of the speech)
They (the leaders of this country) turn a blind eye to reality, merely hiding vainly behind the façade of what they dress up as a holy war.
They ignore the sacrifices made by the people of this country,
claiming that it’s all in the name of global justice or virtuous diplomacy,
insisting upon mutually shared prosperity and world peace.
They spout off these empty concepts that are as fleeting as the clouds,
and have thrown away a golden opportunity (to bring the conflict to an end).
If mistakes have been made to completely unravel the 100 year grand design of the nation, they would be tantamount to grave sins for which not even the deaths of this nation’s leaders could atone.
The people of this nation have been incredibly obedient since the onset of this so-called incident (the Sino-Japanese War).
They freedom of speech suppressed, they cannot even lay bare their own volition or feelings.
Then what is it that makes them subservient to this form of governmental control?
It is because they expect this government to bring the Incident (Sino-Japanese War) to an appropriate close. This is why they obey.
But what would happen if one day something occurred that betrayed this sense of trust in the government?
The people of this nation would be cast down into the depths of utter despair.
The Prime Minister has completely failed to answer the questions I have raised.
I demand that you take this opportunity to seek the understanding of every single citizen of this country. This hereby concludes my questions regarding the Incident (Sino-Japanese War).
Saito spoke for nearly an hour and a half. However, his words cost him dearly, and he was forced to step down as a member of the House of Representatives a month later on March 7.