Here is a scene from the second Patlabor film, where the Japanese Self-Defence Forces are mobilised in Tokyo.

I re-watched the film last week, and this scene shows the ambiguous progress of a coup which may or may not be underway. There’s no single moment where the seat of government is stormed by armed men, only an ongoing situation of uncertainty, which gives way to an appearance of tense stability. The following morning we see children going to school, the subway runs as usual, soldiers stand around looking bored.

Later in the film, there’s an emergency meeting of the security bureau. Inspector Nagumo directly addresses the existence of a conflict within the state, referring to the detention of a base commander ‘in a manner that was for all intents and purposes a preventative arrest’. Her superiors explain that this is a political matter, and she is relieved of her duties.

They ask Gotoh if he has anything to say, he quotes a passage from a book by James Dunnigan.

Reality is often nonexistent at the highest decision-making levels. This is especially true when you are losing a war.

This war has been going on for a long time. We just didn’t see it until too late.

As the both of them are dismissed, an assistant bursts into the room with news that the Trans-Tokyo Bay Bridge had just been bombed by an attack helicopter.

Is there a self-coup going on in the USA at the moment? No. There is no confrontation, but amidst the confusion there are signs of preparation. You wouldn’t see the danger until it was too late.

Solidarity with the progressive and democratic forces out in the streets today!