FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Japan is Threatening Peace

The twenty-three minute ceremony aboard the deck of the Battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, on September 2, 1945, was the most significant event in Japan’s recent history, and the most painful. The ceremony established the surrender of the Empire of Japan and marked the end of World War II.

After the horrific experience of the war, and to create the legal basis for the country’s future peaceful development, a new Constitution was enacted, which was called the “Postwar Constitution” or also the “Peace Constitution”. It became the fundamental law of Japan. The Constitution’s most characteristic component was the renunciation of the right to wage war contained in Article 9, and a provision for de jure popular sovereignty in conjunction with the monarchy.

Article 9 states that the “Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes”. To achieve this, the article provides that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” The extent of Article 9 has been debated in Japan since its enactment, particularly after the establishment of Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF), a de facto military force in 1954.

It is possible that originally the SDF were intended as something similar to what Mahatma Gandhi called the Shanti Sena, or soldiers of peace, or as a collective security police (peacekeeping) force, operating under the United Nations.

However, in July 2014, Japan introduced a reinterpretation of this role, giving more power to its SDF, and allowing them to defend its allies in case of war against them.
This action, which potentially ends Japan’s long-standing pacifist policies, was supported by the U.S. but was heavily criticized by China and North Korea.

More recently, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a new interpretation of those policies, asking that they allow for “collective self-defense” and for Japan to pursue a more active deterrence policy. Because of what many perceive as a decline in American hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan may want to fill the power vacuum left by the US and play a more assertive role in regional security.

To that effect, it has reached some military agreements with countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam that are engaged in territorial disputes with China. At the same time, Abe wants to revitalize Japan’s economy and meet increasing social security demands resulting from a worsening demographic situation. According to the Financial Times, in January 2015 Japan had reached a Debt/GDP ratio of 245, placing Japan as the most indebted nation.

It is possible that a redefined military force would make Japan more assertive in the international arena while at the same time, through increased military sales, it would receive additional income to help balance its economy. On 2014, the Abe government lifted the ban on arms exports and hosted a trade show on military defense systems.

On July 16, Japan’s lower house passed Abe’s security legislation, which potentially allows the use of troops in conflicts outside Japan, and sent it to the upper house.

Not everybody agrees with Prime Minister Abe’s new push to militarization. Last June, Seiichiro Murakami, a veteran lawmaker from Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, wept during a press conference while denouncing Abe’s policies. “As a person who was educated under the postwar education system, I believe in the principle of pacifism, the sovereignty of people and respect of basic human rights should be something absolutely cannot be changed,” he said.

Rearming Japan carries also the risk of igniting a regional arms race of unpredictable but certainly not good consequences for peace in the region. Given the extreme volatility in the region, Japan would do well to follow the precepts established in Article 9 of its Constitution.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail