Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
HAVE YOUR DONATION DOUBLED!

If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Japan Should Devote Itself to Peace, Not Remilitarization

by

Over the objections of the majority of Japanese citizens, and despite bitter protests and strong resistance from opposition parties, Japan’s legislature passed new security laws which will permit Japan’s military to participate in conflicts overseas. A victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the legislation flies in the face of Japan’s pacifist constitution and will bind the country to a dangerous and unnecessary path toward remilitarization.

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, adopted in 1947 during the Allied occupation, states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes” and that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Abe and proponents of the legislation argue that the new laws have sufficient safeguards to limit Japanese military engagements, such as only allowing military action to defend allies, only when all peaceful options have been attempted, and only if not undertaking military action would threaten “the lives and survival of the Japanese nation.”

However, these new laws clearly contradict Article 9, which explicitly bans “the threat or use of force.” There are no exceptions granted in Article 9. Indeed, multiple surveys have found that more than 90 percent of constitutional experts believe Abe’s new laws violate morrisliesJapan’s constitution. Furthermore, the restrictions are meaningless if Japanese leaders simply choose to interpret any military action as a last resort and as necessary to protect Japan. Such instances are common in world affairs: George W. Bush frequently claimed invading Iraq in 2003 was his “last option” and necessary for world security.

Abe claims the laws are necessary to attend to potential threats from China and North Korea. If anything, the new laws will only alienate Japan’s neighbors and increase the potential for conflict. There is still widespread resentment for Japan’s actions during World War II in countries such as China, North Korea, and South Korea. Abe in particular has incensed Japan’s neighbors by refusing to offer his own apology for World War II on the 70th anniversary of end of that war, as well as for visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese war criminals are honored. Clearly, antagonizing one’s neighbors with a greater military role is not a wise move when they are still angry.

While the “rise of China” certainly presents challenges for the region, there is no evidence China wants to attack Japan. In fact, both China and Japan benefit more from mutual peaceful relations through trade and investment than they would from conflict. China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies by nominal GDP, respectively, and both are significant trading partners with each other. The territorial dispute between the two countries over a group of islands in the East China Sea, referred to as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, carries the potential for conflict. However, precisely what is not needed in this instance is increased militarization from either side. Japan’s new security laws create a more hostile environment in which both China and Japan will now have to navigate, heightening distrust and creating a more dangerous climate. The territorial dispute between the countries could now become more volatile as a result.

Potential threats to Japan from North Korea are even less of a problem. First, North Korea is primarily concerned about its adversarial relationships with South Korea and the United States. Japan is a secondary concern for North Korea. Second, North Korea poses no realistic threat to Japan. Despite bellicose rhetoric from North Korean leaders, North Korea knows it could not win a war with South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Its nuclear program is cause for concern, but there is little chance North Korea would use them to strike Japan, as North Korea would be instantly obliterated by the United States.

Abe’s legislation has been welcomed by the United States, which would like to see its Asian allies increase their military role in the face of U.S. budget constraints. In addition, there is the seeming contradiction between Japan’s pacifist constitution and the reality on the ground today: despite Article 9’s prohibition on maintaining “land, sea, and air forces,” Japan has its own military, the Self-Defense Forces, and Japan is subject to several U.S. military bases and more than 40,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there.

However, the fact that there are contradictions between the Article 9 ideals and Japanese policies today does not mean that the ideals should be changed, but rather the policies. Rather than choosing between continued U.S. military “protection” and independent remilitarization, Japan can make a third choice: become a model for the world to emulate by fully committing itself to peace. Japan should vigorously defend Article 9 by scaling back its military, follow the lead of protestors in Okinawa by shutting down U.S. military bases and ending the U.S.-Japan “alliance,” and reallocate its increasing military budget towards social needs. These moves would not only inspire the world, but make the region much safer by fostering better relations with Japan’s neighbors. They would also remove any pretext for provocative actions by China or North Korea.

After Japan’s defeat in World War II, it became one of the world’s most peaceful countries, and remains so today. It would be a tragedy for Japan to reverse course and undo all the progress that has been made.

More articles by:

Brett S. Morris is a freelance writer and journalist who specializes in the intersection of US foreign policy and East and Southeast Asian affairs. He is the author of 21 Lies They Tell You About American Foreign Policy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

October 18, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
Seizing Kirkuk
John Wight
Weinstein as Symptom: Notes From Hollywood
Matthew Hoh
Bowe Bergdahl: Traitor to American Exceptionalism and White Supremacy
Chris Ernesto
Funding for War vs. Natural Disasters
Aidan O'Brien
Where’s Duterte From and Where’s He Going To?
Jon Bailes
Mental Health and Neoliberalism: an Interview with William Davies
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Reason Behind Trump’s Angry Diplomacy in North Korea
Paul Craig Roberts
Washington, Not China, is the Biggest Threat to American Power
Mike Davis
El Diablo in Wine Country
Binoy Kampmark
Trump’s Iran Deal
Lara Merling
Remember Puerto Rico Needs Fair Medicaid Funding Too
Phil Rockstroh
2 or 3 Things I Know About Capitalism
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain
Rambo Wept: Our Commandos Good, Your Terrorists Bad
Dimitris Bellantis
On Catalonia: Debates in the Greek Left
Robert Koehler
The Calm Before the Storm
Mike Hastie
Napalm Sticks to Kids
October 17, 2017
Suzanne Gordon – Ian Hoffmann
Trumpcare for Veterans? VA Outsourcing Will Create Healthcare Industry Bonanza
Patrick Cockburn
The Real Destabilizer in the Middle East is Not Iran But Trump
Jonathan Cook
The Real Reasons Trump is Quitting UNESCO
Murtaza Shibli
My Friend From ISIS in Raqqa
Kathy Kelly
Wrongful Rhetoric and Trump’s Strategy on Iran
David Bonner
Beyond Taking a Knee: Duane Thomas, Where are You When We Need You?
Tom Gill
Austerity, Macron-Style
Liaquat Ali Khan
Pakistan Faces a Life-Threatening Military Coup
Jeff Mackler
Is Trump a ‘Moron?’
Amena Elashkar
If You Work for Justice in Palestine, Why Won’t You Let Palestinians Speak?
John Feffer
Trump’s Unprecedented Right-Turn on Foreign Policy
Ariel Dorfman
Trump’s War on the Mind
Dean Baker
The Republican Tax Plan to Slow Growth
Gerry Brown
The Return of One-Man Rule in China?
Binoy Kampmark
Climate Change Insurgent: Tony Abbott’s Crusade
Kent Paterson
Assassination in Guerrero: the Murder of Ranferi Hernandez Acevedo
Rob Okun
Men and Sexual Assault in the Age of Trump
October 16, 2017
Vijay Prashad
A Tale of Two Islands
Ben Dangl
Profiting from America’s Longest War: Trump Seeks to Exploit Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan
Jan Oberg
Trump is Moving Toward War With Iran
Thomas S. Harrington
The Baseless Myth of the Poor, Propagandized Catalans
Steve Brown
When a Radio Host Interviews a War Criminal, Is It Churlish to Ask About His War Crimes?
Howard Lisnoff
Capturing the Flag
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS is Facing Near Total Defeat, But It Has Been Beaten and Come Back Before
Julian Vigo
The Fall of Harvey Weinstein and the Sexual Blindspot of Misogyny
James Munson
The Rich Can’t Achieve Plurality, But the Poor Can
Amitai Ben-Abba
The NIMPE Critique of Antifa
Robert Fisk
We Will Soon See What the Word “Unity” Means for the Palestinian People
Alice Donovan
Civil War in Venezuela: a US Joint Operation with Colombia?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail