Japan Returns to Militarism

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On December 11 Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported that “Japan plans to effectively upgrade its helicopter carriers to enable them to transport and launch fighter jets.” Concurrently the Indian Ministry of Defence noted that in the course of a large exercise being held in India by the US and Indian air forces, “two military pilots from Japan are also taking part in the exercise as observers.” There was also a Reuter’s account of Tokyo’s plans “to boost defence spending over the next five years to help pay for new stealth fighters and other advanced US military equipment.”

Coincidentally, these developments were reported in the same week as the anniversary of the Nanking Massacre of 1937-38, which remembrance was totally unreported by the Western media but remembered in China where “over a period of six weeks, Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people” and wreaked further death and destruction there and throughout Asia until 1945. They killed or otherwise caused the deaths of countless millions.

There was another anniversary in early December — that of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when 2,400 Americans were killed. President Roosevelt had declared that “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

The date has not lived in infamy, or indeed in any other way so far as the New York Times or the Washington Post are concerned, because neither’s front pages mentioned Pearl Harbor on either December 7 or 8. A few days later, however, the Post reported that “Japan will announce plans to buy 40 to 50 [Lockheed Martin] F-35s over the next five years but may ultimately purchase 100 planes [which cost about $100 million each]. That will have the added benefit of mollifying President Trump, who has complained about the US trade deficit with Japan as well as the cost of stationing tens of thousands of U.S. troops here.” And the NYT headlined that “Japan to Ramp Up Defense Spending to Pay for New Fighters, Radar.”

At the end of the Second World War, Japan was devastated and reeling from US operations in the Pacific that culminated in two atomic bomb attacks. It had to be rebuilt, and the generous United States helped its former deadly enemy to rise from the ashes. As officially recorded, “Between 1945 and 1952, the US occupying forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur, enacted widespread military, political, economic, and social reforms . . . In 1947, Allied advisors essentially dictated a new constitution to Japan’s leaders. Some of the most profound changes in the document included… renouncing the right to wage war, which involved eliminating all non-defensive armed forces.”

There have not as yet been any amendments to Japan’s Constitution about waging war, and most Japanese people consider conflict undesirable. The Constitution is precise in stating 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. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

It could not be clearer: given its own fundamental principles, Japan cannot maintain armed forces. Yet a recent report indicates that “According to Japan’s 2018 Defense White Paper, the total strength of the Self-Defense Forces stands at 226,789 personnel,” including 138,126 in the army, 42,289 in the navy and 46,942 in the air force — or, to use the descriptions employed to fudge the fact that these are military forces with offensive capabilities, they are the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF), the Japan Maritime SDF (18 submarines, 37 destroyers; two more on the way), and the Japan Air SDF (260 advanced combat aircraft).

That is a potent military force, and under the government of Shinzo Abe it will continue to be enlarged and developed with the warm approval of the United States with which Japan has a Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

When Abe was re-elected head of his party in September he declared that “It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” and everyone knows what “revision” he wants to make. As reported by Asahi Shimbun “He is proposing to add a clause to Article 9, which bans the use of force in settling international disputes, to explicitly permit the existence of Japan’s military, now called the Self-Defense Force.” And if he succeeds in having that amendment approved, it will be downhill all the way from there.

Japan has territorial disputes with China and Russia, the former about sovereignty over some islands in the South China Sea, and that with Russia concerning the Kuril Island chain, which is inhabited by Russians, having been handed over to the Soviet Union a short time before the end of World War Two. The US Navy and Air Force, in Washington’s self-assumed role as Führer of the world’s oceans, continue to challenge China in the South China Sea in its confrontational “Freedom of Navigation” operations, and as recently as December 6 was involved in a similar naval fandango when, as the CNN headline had it: “US warship challenges Russia claims in Sea of Japan.”

Full article: Japan Returns to Militarism (Strategic Culture Foundation)

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