Japan from the inside out

Peace-loving peoples

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, February 18, 2012

We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human relationships and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world.
– From the Preamble to the Japanese Constitution

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, 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.
2) 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.
– Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

The United States has some 70 bases — in Japan. This (state of affairs) is not that of an independent country. I want to eliminate this abnormal state of affairs, and have Japan capable of defending Japan. Absent that concept, how can we conduct discussions with other countries?
– Yamada Hiroshi, former chief municipal officer of Tokyo’s Suginami Ward

(A)n editorial cartoon published during the war years in London’s Daily Mail…shows a neat little man in a bowler hat unhappily shaking hands with a dishevelled colossus. The caption reads: “Ah, Mr. Policy, young Side Effect here has been anxious to meet you …”
– George Jonas

ONE use to which the late author, student of psychology, and man of the world Idries Shah put his many books was to convey certain perspectives on form, function, and how they are frequently misapprehended. Shah held that forms have limitations, and that among those limitations are time, place, culture, and language. If they are neither changed nor discarded, they become fossilized, becoming both museums and exhibits. Some choose to become attached to a form rather than its content. They are unable to make the distinction between the container and its function, and assume the fossil still functions as it did in the past.

The creation of the Japanese Constitution as a way to bend the nation’s behavior is an excellent illustration of the perspectives on form and function Shah wished to convey.

Consider the language of the preamble shown above, which some Japanese find more objectionable than Article 9, the “peace clause”. The nation is supposed to rely on the “justice and faith” of the “peace-loving peoples of the world” for its security and existence. Pluralizing the word people, assuming that peoples are peace-loving, and proclaiming that national survival can be entrusted to their goodwill identifies the sort of people who wrote it, their worldview, and the general time period in which it was written. It belongs in a vitrine in a corner of the museum near the quill pens and dialed telephones, rather than as the first statement of principle atop a document that would express the national consensus for the survival of the state.

In retrospect, it’s curious that people expected a Constitutional requirement in that form to function at all. The authors knew well that the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact also prohibited the use of war as an “instrument of national policy”, so only an ideologue would have thought the Japanese Constitution in isolation would succeed. By 1945, technology had enabled the Europeans to realize the objective inherent in centuries of behavior and turn the continent into a smoldering ruin of a charnel house. Justice and faith in the love of peace were not the motivation for the Western world’s colonization of East Asia. Nor were they the motivation that impelled them to eliminate the East Asian nation that would usurp their position. Such were the high ideals controlling the human relations of the age.

Further, there is no real consensus on what Article 9 even means. Some people claim it was to make Japan a pacifist nation, but that’s difficult to see when the commonly accepted meaning of pacifism is applied. Here’s a brief description of how the Constitution was put together:

Although an American directive allowed him to order reforms “only as a last resort,” with the first postwar general election just two months away and with an 11-nation commission due to take over the issue of a constitution, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander, intervened.

He ordered his own 24-member Government Section staff to draft a constitution, and on Feb. 4, his aide, Brig. Gen. Courtney Whitney, convened a meeting and declared: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a historic occasion. I now proclaim you a constitutional assembly.”

Lieut. Col. Charles Kades, who had been in Japan since a week before Japan’s formal surrender the previous summer after taking part in the invasion of France in 1944 and serving on the War Department’s General Staff, was put in charge of the steering committee and told to produce a constitution by Feb. 12.

But Kades denied that it was strictly pacifist in intent when Japanese journalist Komori Yoshihisa visited him at his Wall Street office in New York in April 1981 and spoke with him for three hours:

“I myself wrote Article 9, including the section about the renunciation of war. I was given a page from a yellow legal pad by Whitney with instructions on three or four main points. I think they were notes he took from a conversation with MacArthur. But every nation has the right to its own self-defense. That’s why I thought (the part prohibiting self-defense) was illogical, and I took the liberty to remove it.”

The references to military forces, war potential and the “right of belligerency” were as written on the paper he was given. Kades admitted, however, that he didn’t understand the meaning of the “right of belligerency”. He said that if Japan had objected to that phrase, he intended to remove it.

“The intent of this Constitution was at first to keep Japan disarmed forever, but that had the effect of tying America’s hands in bilateral relations with Japan, and for the United States, that created a situation that was ill advised.”

Now there’s the unanswerable question: how is a nation disarmed forever supposed to defend itself? By some interpretations, Japan is ranked ninth worldwide in military strength, yet to take the language of the Constitution at face value would mean that it has the world’s largest and most potent police force.

The Constitution also enables the United States to use Japanese territory for its own ends. Here it is from the horse’s mouth. In this case, the pony is Kevin Maher, the former director of the Office of Japan Affairs at the US State Department:

“I don’t think Article Nine of the Japanese constitution should change. If the Japanese constitution was changed the United States would not be able to use Japanese land to advance US interests. The high host nation support the Japanese government currently pays is beneficial to the US. We’ve got a very good deal in Japan.”

Regardless of what one thinks of the Japanese left, their caricature of their own country as an American aircraft carrier has some justification.

Another function of the Constitution has been to contribute to the neutering of the Japanese political class. With domestic policy largely in the hands of the bureaucracy and foreign policy outsourced to the Americans, the Japanese political class has devolved into a group of parasites engaged primarily in emitting gusts of hot air, concocting Byzantine power struggles, and consuming the nation’s time and money.

Defense Minister Tanaka Naoki

Typifying the problem is that the Noda Cabinet has already had two Defense Ministers since its inception five months ago. The criterion for their selection was to balance intraparty factions rather than their ability to oversee the national defense. The first, Ichikawa Yasuo, was known to be aligned with the Agriculture Ministry and had little expertise about defense matters. Mr. Ichikawa insisted this inexperience was the ideal demonstration of civilian control of the military. He was replaced four months and a half-dozen verbal pratfalls later, though he blamed it on bureaucratic backstabbing.

His successor is Tanaka Naoki, another AgMin zokugiin. He is distinguished only as the husband of former Foreign Minister Tanaka Makiko, who knew as much about diplomacy as her husband knows about national defense. Mr. Tanaka stepped in it even more quickly than Mr. Ichikawa. During a live interview on NHK the first weekend after his selection, he confused a question about relaxing the standards for the use of weapons by self-defense forces overseas with the reexamination of weapons export prohibitions. Asked specifically about the first by the NHK moderator, he talked about leaving behind construction equipment after participating in peacekeeping operations overseas. Struggling to rescue Mr. Tanaka, the interviewer asked him whether he had a positive attitude about the use of weapons by self-defense forces. The Defense Minister answered that it was neither positive nor negative.

The one function the Japanese Constitution has not performed, however, is the one it was created for: to prevent the “peace-loving peoples” in the neighborhood from piecemeal attacks on the country to seize or attempt to seize Japanese territory outright. Meanwhile, the Americans either declare it isn’t their business and look the other way, or have been actively complicit in that seizure.

Who indeed are the peace-loving peoples in Northeast Asia?

* The peace-loving people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Persons of sound mind can stipulate that the North Korean government neither qualifies as a member of the region’s peace-loving peoples nor can be trusted to behave as if they were. Persons of sound mind also know there are some who will disagree with that characterization, but taking them seriously isn’t worth the time or trouble.

While North Korea has no apparent designs on Japanese territory, they have, for reasons that make sense only to them, threatened to turn the country into a sea of fire. They also occasionally fire missiles in a direction where only Japan exists. (To be sure, Pyeongyang actually attacks only South Korea, but in an erratic manner that gives the Americans an excuse to bug out on their promise to defend South Korea as well.)

* The peace-loving people of the People’s Republic of China

It would be possible to agree with the Chinese assertion they are peace-loving people if we overlook their post-WWII invasions of the Korean Peninsula, India, and Vietnam, and their current buccaneering from southern Japan to the South China Sea.

The Chinese boosted their defense budget by 12.7% in FY 2011 to roughly 601.1 billion yuan. That was a resumption of 22 consecutive years of double-digit defense budget increases, a string that ended briefly in 2010, when defense expenditures were limited to a single-digit rise. In contrast, the Japanese Finance Ministry wants to cut the 155,000 members of the Land Self-Defense Force to 141,000. Japan is the only major country whose defense budget has continually declined since reaching a peak in 2002.

The Chinese cited as their reason increases in equipment and military training, personnel training/education, and salaries and benefits for the military.

When asked by reporters whether the increase was to apply pressure to neighboring countries, a government spokesman replied it was still less than 2% of GDP and lower than that of many countries. He also said that China was pursuing defensive policies and would not threaten any country.

Shortly thereafter, the Chinese had their first trial flight of a new stealth fighter. Here’s a look at some more of their new defensive infrastructure.

They didn’t behave as a peace-loving people in the fall of 2010, when they were the belligerents in the Senkaku islets , which they and the Taiwanese recognized as Japanese territory until seabed resources were discovered circa 1970.

This behavior should not have been unexpected. Noted Shimizu Yoshikazu in the monthly Chuokoron:

President Hu Jintao said at the Communist Party Conference in March 2009 that the country will staunchly defend its sovereignty, security, and territory. He also said the country would be more assertive in defending its maritime interests. Mr. Hu modified the dictum of Deng Hsiao Ping, who said, “Hide our abilities, build our strength, and move forward little by little.” The new policy is “Maintain hiding our abilities and building our strength, but be more aggressive diplomatically.”

Mr. Shimizu said that few people noticed because the full text of his address was not published. A senior official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it meant the country would perform a more aggressive role in international affairs.

Here’s what the Chinese mean by their “maritime interests”:

“Japanese government officials are weighing China’s intent after the People’s Daily, the newspaper of the Communist Party, called the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea part of Beijing’s “core interests.”

“…The People’s Daily article said Japan’s plan to name uninhabited islands near the Senkakus, known in China as the Diaoyu Islands, “is a blatant move to damage China’s core interests.””

The Chinese also refer to Tibet and Taiwan as part of their core interests.

Chinese newspaper editorials reflect a similar peace-loving attitude. For example, Hu Feiyue was one of four “experts” who presented views in a one-page special on the Senkakus dispute in the China Daily:

“Since Japan has been continually strengthening its control over the Diaoyu Islands (Senkakus), it is not enough for China to only send patrol boats to the islands. Instead, China should continue to modernize its navy. Considering Japan’s actions and the effect of China’s countermeasures, Beijing should think of employing another strategy,”

He also referred to the Japanese arrest of the Chinese fishing boat captain after ramming two Japanese Coast Guard vessels as “Tokyo’s affront”.

More specific was this from the Dongfang Ribao (Oriental Daily) in Hong Kong on 5 April last year:

There will not be peace between China and Japan unless China shows the resolve to use nuclear weapons. Japan is the only country in the world to have been attacked with nuclear (weapons) in the past century twice. The first was when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb, and the second was during the Fukushima nuclear accident. The Japanese are extremely sensitive to nuclear issues, and China is not without the means to employ this means…For most Japanese, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a nightmare that can not be forgotten, and it has wounded their spirit. The uneasiness and dread due to the nuclear accident has paralyzed Japanese officials and the public, and politicians continually spout nonsense.

Japan can say no to China, but it cannot say no to nuclear weapons. For China to gain Japan’s respect it must refer to these weapons and present an attitude of not renouncing their use…Japan is a country with a high degree of self-regard, and it bows only to those who defeat it. Even though it lost to the U.S. in World War II, it does not think it lost to China, and pressures China with this strong approach….Now it challenges China through its textbooks on the Senkakus issue. Why should China promise a country such as this that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons?

China is thought to have deployed 300 nuclear warheads, by the way.

This rhetoric has been backed by the Chinese military harassment of Japan, which began in the Senkakus long before the 2010 incident.

In September 2005, the Chinese sent five naval vessels, including a guided missile destroyer, to the vicinity of the Chunxiao gas field. That’s four kilometers into the Chinese EEZ, but the Chinese have been using it as a platform to siphon off gas from the Japanese side. One of the ships aimed a gun at a Japanese P3-C surveillance aircraft.

A day before the resumption of Japanese-Sino talks on the status of the gas fields, China revealed it had established a “reserve vessel squadron” in the East China Sea capable of “fighting during wars” and equipped to “eliminate obstacles at sea.”

They’ve been engaging in similar activities near or in Japanese air space, particularly in the past five years. From April to December 2010 alone, Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces scrambled 48 times against Chinese aircraft. That was the highest total of the past five fiscal years (starting in April), and did not include the January to March figures. More recent incidents have involved a refusal to provide identification after entering the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The Chinese military aircraft used to stay outside the ADIZ, but that changed in October 2010.

Last March, a Chinese State Oceanic Administration helicopter flew to within 70 meters of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer Samidare. Then-Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi said, “It was an extremely dangerous act.” That was countered by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, who replied that China’s right to claim the islands was “indisputable” and that its actions were in accord with international law.

On 30 December 2010, the Asahi Shimbun reported on People’s Liberation Army planning to land on and seize the outlying islands of other countries. The envisioned operations would include the use of bombers and amphibious vehicles.

On 2 January 2011, a commenter in the Communist Party-run Global Times claimed that the Japanese were just trying to worsen relations and suggested the Asahi ran the article at the government’s request.

More troubling still is the Chinese interest in Okinawa. Some in China are now calling for the establishment of a Ryukyus Autonomous District. In other words, they think it’s Chinese manifest destiny to swipe the islands from Japan. Here is a public announcement of an apparently well-funded group to work toward that objective:

Former National Police Agency investigator Bando Tadanobu translated into Japanese an essay that appeared in the Chinese media calling for such a scheme as part of the PRC’s launch of a national strategy — the so-called Ryukyus Millennium.

“The Ryukyu islands must be recovered and a Ryukyu Autonomous District of the People’s Republic of China established for the millennium development of China. The law guarantees China sovereignty of the Ryukyus under the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration. It must be turned into a forward base facing the Pacific Ocean….China will build the Ryukyus, the Japanese and American military shall depart from the East Sea (i.e., what everyone else calls the East China Sea) and the Ryukyus will be a breakwater for Chinese security.”

The essay also asserts that the time to seize Okinawa is now, and the Ryukyu Islanders, who are part of the Chinese people, also seek this. Mr. Bando reminds his Japanese readers that the Chinese government insists the Senkakus are Chinese territory and that senior PLA members openly discuss planning for an invasion of Japan.

This is not an isolated phenomenon. The same argument has also appeared in other Chinese media sources, including three times in the Apple Daily and once on the Boxun News website.

Tang Chungfeng, a specialist in Japan research at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce who also served in the Chinese embassy in Japan, has championed the cause in the aforementioned Global Times, as well as the news site (for Phoenix TV). Mr. Tang claims that the real Japanese objective is not to maintain control of Daioyutai (Senkakus), but to legalize its “illegal control” of the Ryukyus.

He lists four reasons for this.

1. The Ryukyus become the starting point for Japanese territorial waters.
2. It is a strategic move to obtain maritime resources and to keep northern Taiwan in check.
3. It draws their territorial line in the East China Sea.
4. It wipes away the shame of having been defeated in World War 2 by an “inferior race”, the Chinese. The Japanese still say they were beaten by the Americans and the Russians, not us.

Mr. Tang says this is the signal flare for the resurgence of Japanese militarism, in which Japanese bushido will again rule the world. It is a psychological demand of the Japanese right wing, which is more important than natural resources.

With two university professors, Mr. Tang wrote a similar article for the Global Times of 10 November 2010. In the same newspaper two days before that, he urged China to support the Okinawan “independence movement”.

Demonstrations were held in Chengdu in October 2010 after the Senkakus Incident of 7 September. Student leaders said they had been organized a month before with the help of the government. Some of the demonstrators carried signs saying, Recover the Ryukyus, Free Okinawa.

Occasionally the well-meaning superficialissimos of the Western mass media and thinktankeria get nosey and parade their wonderfulness by advising the countries involved it would be so much better if everyone got along and shared the wealth of the sea near the Senkakus instead of fighting about it. The Japanese have always been amenable to that. Now to get the Chinese to match their behavior with their words:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters Wednesday that Japan protested to China after a flare was seen Tuesday at a Chinese structure at an undersea gas deposit. Japan has made similar complaints several times in the past.

“We have detected a flare, a sign that it is highly likely that there is a gas development going on,” Fujimura said. “Any unilateral exploration is unacceptable.”

The deposit, known as Kashi in Japan and Tianwaitian in China, sits near a median line of the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones.

Japan and China agreed in 2008 to suspend unilateral digging in that field while continuing talks, but talks have stalled since 2010, following a diplomatic spat stemming from a maritime collision near disputed southern islands claimed by both countries, as well as Taiwan.

Two (back-translated) comments allow us to draw conclusions from all this. The first is from Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. (The emphasis is mine.)

China has of course warned that Japan is positioned as part of the American alliance, but we must recognize that is not the only point. I interviewed a general with the People’s Liberation Army, who said, “We might be able to achieve accommodation and cooperation with the U.S., but that will not happen with Japan. For China, Japan will likely remain a military threat”. There is a special historical animus towards Japan.

Meanwhile, Dan Blumenthal, current commissioner and former vice chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said:

In China, there is a memory and anger at Japan based on history, and an intense awareness of revisionism. That awareness is strengthened and inflamed by Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Now, the Chinese think this should be rectified, even with military force, by becoming superior to Japan, and having the ability to threaten Japan.

* The peace-loving people of Russia

Japan and Russia signed the Treaty of Commerce, Navigation and Delimitation on 7 February 1855. The treaty both established official relations between the countries as well as their borders. The Russians confirmed that the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, and Shikotan, and the Habomai Islets (just seven kilometers from Hokkaido), were Japanese territory, distinct from the Kurile Islands.

Article 2 of the treaty states:

“Henceforth the boundary between the two nations shall lie between the islands of Etorofu and Uruppu. The whole of Etorofu shall belong to Japan; and the Kurile Islands, lying to the north of and including Uruppu, shall belong to Russia.”

Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai Islets are to the south of Etorofu. They were not mentioned in the treaty because they were understood to be part of Japan.

They stayed part of Japan until after World War II ended. The Soviet Union renounced its neutrality treaty with Japan and declared war on 9 August 1945, three days after the Hiroshima nuclear bombing. The Japanese surrendered unconditionally on 15 August, and on 18 August the Soviets started occupying what Japan calls the Northern Territories. That process lasted until 5 September, three days after the surrender documents were signed.

For reasons impossible to explain, the English-language mass media finds it impossible to simply state these facts. Though the Soviet occupation of the islands occurred after the Japanese surrender, Reuters uses the expression “near the end of the war”. Even though the Japanese position is that the islands are not part of the Kuriles, based in part on the 1855 treaty language, the New York Times accepts the Russian formulation and calls them the South Kuriles. (Then again, the Times thought it was copacetic for the Americans to write the Japanese Constitution, as the text at the above link about Charles Kades shows.)

The Soviets occupied the islands because American President Harry Truman allowed them to. Stalin wanted the entire island of Hokkaido to create a Communist North Japan, as he did with North Korea and East Germany. Truman made a deal to prevent that by tossing Stalin the four smaller fish. This has been confirmed by historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa (an American citizen) from diplomatic cables and detailed in his book Anto. (That can be translated as Secret Strife or Hidden Battle).

Thus, the Soviets chose to exact their revenge for losing the 1905 war by kicking Japan when it was down. In the 1956 agreement between the two countries that ended the state of war between them and restored diplomatic ties, the Russians agreed to give two of the islands back as part of a future peace treaty. They show no signs of fulfilling their promise.

The Russians saw that the Democratic Party-led government of Japan flinched badly in its confrontation with China in the fall of 2010. Should it be surprising that one thug state would imitate another? Their own military testing of Japan’s territory and defensive posture began almost immediately thereafter and continues to the present.

The Russian navy sent 24 ships through La Pérouse Strait, which separates the southern part of Sakhalin from the northern part of Hokkaidō and connects the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. This was the largest group of Russian ships to make this passage in 10 years, and included cruisers, destroyers, supply ships, tank carriers, and hospital ships.

In September 2011, the Russians conducted their largest military exercise off Kamchatka after the end of the Cold War — with 50 ships and 50 aircraft — to maintain the defense of their continental shelf area. One never knows when the Japanese or the Canadians are going to attack. It is curious that Russian exercises of this sort pass with little or no comment overseas, but the Japanese dispatch of an airplane to observe Chinese provocations is the signal for Western academics to write papers calling for the joint peaceful development of resources.

In early December 2010, Russian maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft flew directly above a joint U.S.-Japanese military drill. The main sea drill continued, but the air drill was halted to prevent the exposure of any tactics.

Though it is natural to observe military drills of neighboring countries, the Russians chose to be obnoxious in their observation and their justification afterwards. Said fleet spokesman Roman Markov:

“The area is our zone of responsibility. The airplanes carried out a planned flight in an area of the Russian Pacific Fleet’s regular activity.”

That was a month after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the first visit of a Russian/Soviet head of state to the islands since they became Russian territory. Previous leaders had refrained from doing so to avoid antagonizing the Japanese, but discretion in bilateral relations is no longer a priority. A more recent visitor was Nikolai Patrushev, former director of the FSB (the new KGB) and secretary of the Security Council of Russia. This visit, also seen as out of the ordinary, was ostensibly to check on border security and economic development. These two men were followed by the first deputy premier, the regional development minister, and the defense minister.

One reason cited for Mr. Medvedev’s visit was to boost his image of strength before elections. That is standard operating procedure for the countries of East Asia — if the national government’s popularity needs a tonic, bash the Japanese. That’s been the drink of choice of Chinese and South Koreans for more than 60 years.

The timing was also right. Japanese defense policy at the time called for a shift in focus from defense of the north and a reduction of equipment and personnel in Hokkaido to upgrade security around the Nansei Islands of Okinawa and in the East China Sea.

What was then-Prime Minister Kan to do? He and his government had already been flayed for their mishandling of the Senkakus incident, and now the Russians were capitalizing on his demonstrated weakness. But Mr. Kan had to trust “in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world”. He lacked options for dealing with people who are ambivalent about peace and act with injustice and in bad faith. Having only a single dimension as a politician, he reached into his bag of trick and reverted to his origins as a street-corner loudmouth by criticizing Mr. Medvedev’s visit as “an unforgivable outrage”. (He got away with that sort of language in Nagata-cho for years because no one took his New Left grandstanding seriously.) He also said it was “an act of violence”.

The Russians, knowing all about shouting shoe-pounders in diplomatic venues, easily swatted that one away. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded that the Japanese prime minister was being “undiplomatic”. Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko noted:

“The Russian president independently selects routes of his domestic trips. Any recommendations from abroad are inappropriate and unacceptable.”

The time for using the phrase “unforgivable outrage” came that summer after Mr. Medvedev signed a law passed by the Duma making 2 September an annual holiday to celebrate the Soviet victory over Japan. In other words, it took the Russians 65 years to commemorate their week-long struggle in 1945, their postwar seizure of the Northern Territories, and their postwar use of 600-700,000 Japanese servicemen as slave labor from 1946 until 1956 (though most were released by 1949). An estimated 10% of those Japanese died in Soviet captivity.

Why now? Don’t look to Reuters or the New York Times for an explanation.

Mr. Kan might also have chosen to take a stern view when the Russians conducted Vostok 2010, their operational/strategic military exercises, from 29 June to 8 July in the Kuriles over Japanese objections. Or when the Russians established three new artillery and missile testing areas near the Kuriles and the Kamchatka Peninsula.

But it’s too late for that — especially now that there are signs of an anti-Japanese alliance among the peace-loving peoples of the region.

On 8 September 2011, Air Self-Defense Force jets scrambled to meet Russian *and* Chinese military aircraft approaching Japan. Two Russian TU-95 bombers flew around Japan accompanied by refueling aircraft. They started flirting with Japanese airspace from the Tsushima Strait off Nagasaki prefecture, passed south of Okinawa, and then swung up along the Pacific Ocean coast northward to an area near the Northern Territories. It was the first confirmed circumnavigation of Japan by Russian military aircraft, and it was obviously intentional. They passed Fukushima Prefecture in the Pacific at precisely the time Prime Minister Noda was there to view the damaged nuclear plant. The entire flight, including refueling, took 14 hours.

While the Russians were still airborne, a Chinese Y8 intelligence-gathering airplane flew across the dividing line between China and Japan in the East China Sea and came within 100 – 150 kilometers of The Senkakus.

(The Russia must have enjoyed their aerial tour of Japanese territory, as military aircraft made another circuit just outside Japanese airspace last month. Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro called his Russian counterpart to ask for self-restraint and more information; three days later it was reported that his call hadn’t been returned.)

One year before, on 27 September (shortly after the Senkakus Incident), Mr. Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao met in Beijing to sign a joint statement calling for “mutual support for each other’s core interests, including national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”

It also contained these passages:

“During the war (World War II), people in China and Russia sustained major aggressions from the fascists and militarists, and they endured the cruelest ordeals and suffered the heaviest casualties…The fascists and militarists schemed to conquer and enslave us two nations, other countries, and the whole continent. China and Russia will never forget the feat of those who checked those two forces…

Most telling of all was this sentence. It’s worth reading twice:

The glorious history, imprinted with the friendship the people of the two countries forged in the war and their mutual help, has laid a sound foundation for today’s strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia.

The Russians have even teamed up with the North Koreans. When the late Kim II visited Russia in August 2011, they finalized an agreement for joint military exercises, an unusual step for Pyeongyang. Kim suggested full-scale military maneuvers, including offensive exercises, but that was too much even for the Russians. They also did not respond to requests for aircraft and parts. Meanwhile, the North Koreans kept interaction with Russian forces at a minimum for lower-ranking soldiers. That limited the initial exercises to pilot rescue operations.

It is not clear what peace-loving purpose the Russians — whose navy obtained access to a Sea of Japan port through a 2010 agreement with the North Koreans — think this serves. Only allies conduct joint military operations, after all.

* The peace-loving people of South Korea

Birds of a feather, they say, flock together, so one might assume that South Korea, the only other nominal free market democracy in Northeast Asia, would think its best interests lie in an alliance of some sort with the Japanese. That assumption would be mistaken.

The Japanese suspect that when Chinese pushing comes to shoving, the Koreans will accommodate themselves to the Chinese, regardless of the specifics of the situation. An example is the language in an editorial from the Joongan Ilbo of South Korea. They’ve noticed that today’s Chinese are acting like the Imperial Japanese a century ago. They’re also aware that Chinese behavior could cause nearby countries to behave as Finland traditionally has toward its Soviet Union/Russian neighbor. But that was fine with them:

“(We) must act judiciously. China’s existence is a threat to our security, but essential for us economically. Therefore, for several decades at least, we must ride the wave of an economically prosperous China. That will require South Korea to stay neutral in the struggle between Japan and China.”

They seem to have overlooked that the struggle in East Asia is not between Japan and China, but between China and everyone else in the region with territory the Chinese claim.

Not that the South Koreans are immune from junior grade militarism of their own. They’ve already chosen to stick their saber in the face of the one country that won’t fight back. As detailed by two posts on the masthead here, South Korea seized the Takeshima islets by force after they failed to convince the United States to include it in the San Francisco Peace Treaty specifying what would and would not be Japanese territory. So, despite having ignored the rocks for centuries, they took the islets while the taking was good — knowing the Japanese were relying on the justice and faith of peace-loving peoples.

As this post describes, some South Koreans have their eyes on Tsushima too, and senior members of their military use the invisible Japanese military threat to Takeshima to urge the expansion of their military capabilities. Meanwhile, the North Koreans are the ones who are actually sinking their naval ships, shelling their territory, and murdering their tourists.

But Seoul is buckled up and ready to do battle with the Japanese. On 5 July 2006, their Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs sent a ship to survey ocean currents in Japan’s EEZ near Takeshima. Japan responded by sending a Coast Guard patrol boat to monitor the ship, contact it by radio, and ask them to stop. The Koreans ignored the Japanese request and dispatched their own Coast Guard vessel, which sailed between two ships. Nothing untoward happened, but the Japanese prime minister at the time, Abe Shinzo, said at a symposium in the fall of 2010 that the Japanese government was told the Korean captain had been given permission by South Korean President Roh Mu-hyon to fire on the Japanese ship. The expression used was “attack with the intent to harm”.

Mr. Abe consulted with the Foreign Ministry and the Coast Guard and decided not to stop the Korean ship by abordage. He later explained:

“With China, we would understand what they’re going to do because diplomacy to them is completely a game. One side can predict what the other will do if one does certain things…Roh, however, was strange and even other Korean officials and military men found him somewhat confusing. We didn’t know what he would do, because there seemed to be no logical thought or calculation of profit and loss, and the situation could have escalated beyond imagining.”

Of course, that’s not how the South Koreans remember it. (The emphasis is mine.):

Roh Moo-hyun instructed the military to destroy unauthorized Japanese ships heading for Dokdo while in office, a close aide to the late President said Friday.

This indicates that President Lee Myung-bak’s predecessor braced for the worst possible diplomatic relations with Japan to thwart the neighboring country’s territorial ambitions of Korea’s easternmost islets.

The revelation came amid escalating criticism of the government’s stance of dealing with the issue in a low key manner.

Kim Byung-joon, a former senior presidential secretary for policy planning, said in an article posted on the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation’s website, “In April 2006, when Seoul-Tokyo relations were chilled by Japan’s territorial claim of Dokdo, President Roh instructed his secretaries to consider destroying Japanese ships crossing into our territorial waters without permission.”

Among considered measures for destruction was using a Korean military ship to ram the targeted vessel from Japan, Kim recounted.

What to do?

Many Japanese have always known what this situation requires. When the Liberal-Democratic Party was formed in 1955, its new charter called for Japan to rewrite the Constitution. The members eventually found it easier to indulge in the more profitable political activity of pork distribution, and turned into the Japanese version of RINOs in the bargain. The LDP could have served as the role model for the American GOP to become stealth social democrats.

Somura Yasunobu, then a professor of international politics at the Tokyo University of Science, wrote an op-ed for the January edition of Keizai Orai in January 1991. It was rendered in English by the Translation Service Center Asia Foundation and run in the 23 April edition of the Japan Times that year. (That predates the Internet as we know it today, so it is not online.).

Prof. Somura said then all that needs to be said. Note how one passage echoes the statement of Charles Kades.

During the Persian Gulf War, Americans accused Japan of hiding behind the postwar Constitution to avoid involvement, while liberals here claimed the administration of Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki was ripping it up in an attempt to send troops overseas. The Americans were right and our poor, pacifist Constitution was both more controversial and ridiculous than ever.

The document was foisted upon Japan when it was still under the thumb of the US occupation (1945-1952). Common sense tells us that the policies pursued by even the most benevolent of conquerors are not designed entirely for the benefit of the conquered. By the same token, a national charter adopted when Gen. Douglas MacArthur ruled Tokyo is irrelevant today.

When Japan regained its sovereignty in 1952, all legislation imposed by the Occupation should have become null and void. Anyone who still wants to preserve this Constitution in effect favors perpetuation of American rule….

…Until recently, many people have justified retaining this made-in-USA instrument as expedient, and in terms of realpolitik, Japan’s most advantageous option. I admit that I have not been among those clamoring for revision. Patchwork reform of a document so fatally flawed makes no sense…

…The heart of the Constitutional issue is the famous war-renouncing Article 9, which says in part, “the right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” From the standpoint of international law, this makes no sense.

…In the old days, the concept of a belligerent party was used, for example, regarding rebel separatists. It provided the basis for subsequent recognition of a group as a legitimate government or the territory under its control as an independent nation. The 1947 Constitution did not even accord this minimum standing to Japan.

When Japan regained its pro forma independence in 1952, we entered into a mutual security treaty with Washington that left national defense and internal security in the hands of the U.S. military. The pact was later revised, and the Japanese government assumed the latter responsibility.

Nevertheless, the treaty made Japan, for all intents and purposes, a U.S. protectorate. Any Japanese eager to maintain this relationship after all this time is like a middle-aged man who still wants to be breast-fed by his mother.

Of course, the notion of a right to wage war has been rendered absurd by weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and conventional. The only just wars are those of self-defense; the right of belligerency simply means that a nation can protect itself.

It is contradictory to argue that Japan has the right of self-defense but not the right to wage war….This anachronistic document belongs in the national archives, not on the books as the supreme law of the land.

What to do? The Japanese should rip up the American neo-imperialist document dashed off in less than a fortnight and become a nation again.

After all, based on actions rather than words, they’re the only peace-loving peoples in Northeast Asia.


* It is easy to identify the peace-loving peoples of the world even at international sporting events.

Japan has hosted the Olympics in exemplary fashion three times. It is beyond the realm of imagination that the incidents in Seoul and Hangzou could have happened anywhere in Japan. It is inconceivable that a Japanese crowd would boo another country’s national anthem, boo a national team throughout a sporting event, throw garbage on players and fans, and behave so badly the army is required to keep them in line. International sporting events in Japan have never been cancelled due to public health concerns. And no Japanese officials have ever thrashed a judge from another country because they were unhappy with the decision.

* Here’s a report of how American soldiers in Japan keep in training.

* The drive-by academic, Walter Russell Mead, drove by again:

“Japan, Russia Build Ties As Asian Balance Shifts”

Note that he calls the islands the Kuriles and says nothing about how they were occupied. Does he know? His wishful thinking is based on a few quotes in one Kyodo report that could have been recycled by every Japanese and Russian foreign minister for the past half-century.

He missed this in the rearview mirror as he drove away:

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Saturday that a heated, decades-long territorial dispute with Russia was far from solved even as they agreed to boost security and economic cooperation.

Gemba said the territorial issue must be solved before Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, invests further in the islands and Russia’s underdeveloped Far East region.

“We would consider joint business activities if it helps solve the sovereignty issue,” Gemba said.

“But we must not violate Japan’s legal stance…In that sense, the positions (between Japan and Russia) remain far apart.”

The day the other countries in the region can produce an indie band like Kiwi and the Papaya Mangoes is the day they reach the level of Japanese internationalism.

On their previous album, KPM did a Brazilian forro tune with Indian percussion and a flute. The Korean writing seen briefly in this video spells out the name of the Japanese national anthem.

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7 Responses to “Peace-loving peoples”

  1. toadold said

    It is past time for the Japanese to stop whining about their Constitution and the meanness of their neighbors and change it. Finger pointing, blame gaming, and J’accuse gets pretty tiresome.
    If they can’t or won’t change it then they ought too stop crying about it.

  2. Marellus said


    Is there a legal way in which Article 9 can be amended, and if so, what are the obstacles ?
    Not easy: 2/3rds vote in both houses, and a majority in a subsequent national referendum. The obstacles are the political will to make the case, and overcoming the inertia to make the case. Some situations must be seen as intolerable before people will change them. There of course would be the usual problems with certain pols and the media.
    – A.

  3. Well, this is all very well and good, but you’ve completely ignored any Japanese role in the crafting of the constitution, and in particular article 9. The Japanese government committee established to consider the constitution and held in private advised its members to say what they thought despite the fact that Americans might quash their proposed amendments later (which they did not: Kades was surprised the Japanese didn’t make more amendments, showing that the Americans were open to it.). Article 9 was amended at that committee, and the stated intent at the time in the committee itself was to make the pacifist nature of the constitution stronger. There are other objections too–like it is complete and utter nonsense to believe that the Japanese people didn’t know full well that the draft presented in the Diet was written by the Americans, and yet were still enthusiastic about it, thereby showing that it wasn’t “forced” on Japan.

    But it doesn’t matter. I think article 9 should be amended too, though my take on the way in which it should be amended (to explicitly allow for limited self defense and PKOs and the like explicitly sanctioned under international law). However, the whole argument about force is a red herring that Japanese right wingers raise thinking that it will help their cause, but it simply distracts from the real issues.
    CS: Thanks for the comment.

    I note with interest your suggestion that the Japanese, after years of warfare, uninterrupted bombing of their country, the firebombing of Tokyo and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the loss of faith in their leaders and 5% of the national population, and being occupied for the first time in their history by a conquering army (after fighting the war, in part, to prevent Western colonization), would strenuously object to what the Americans told them to do.

    I also note with interest your suggestion that another nation’s diktat is a “right wing” red herring that distracts from “the real issues”.

    The fact remains that Kades wrote it, and it should never have been written to begin with. National constitutions are the means to establish domestic governance. International law, such as it is, (the people who clamor about it the loudest want to enforce it only when it benefits them politically) is a different question altogether.


    – A.

  4. “I note with interest your suggestion that the Japanese, after years of warfare, uninterrupted bombing of their country, the firebombing of Tokyo and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the loss of faith in their leaders and 5% of the national population, and being occupied for the first time in their history by a conquering army (after fighting the war, in part, to prevent Western colonization), would strenuously object to what the Americans told them to do.”

    Which Japanese are you talking about? There were a few who strenuously objected. Matsumoto Joji, for one. In any case, doesn’t the kenpo oshitsuke ron crowd tend to stress the fact that censorship meant precisely that “the Japanese” didn’t know that the Americans were pulling the strings. In which case, they would reject a constitution presented to them by leaders who they had “lost faith in” unless they liked the content of the document.

    I suppose I’ve already said I find the notion that “the Japanese” (that is “those Japanese outside the cabinet”) didn’t know what was going on a bit fishy, so you can have your crab cake and eat it too, if you want to agree with me in this particular instance. But strange, isn’t it, that the communist party, who in 1946 were still supporting the occupation, and therefore had every reason to give their New Deal saviors in GHQ their moral support, actually voted against acceptance of the document?

    In any case, as I said, there were a number of significant amendments made to the constitution by the Japanese government. We wouldn’t have a bicameral Diet these days if it weren’t for the intervention of conservatives who feared a leftist capture of the single house that the occupation forces proposed. And of course there were the rather significant changes to Article 9 itself, already mentioned. The US and others thought (correctly, as it turned out) that the wording of that amendment would allow for the maintenance of a “military” force, but did bugger all about it. It wasn’t all a one sided game. And, of course, I don’t need to go on about how the several Japanese constitutional amendment proposals that GHQ based its draft upon did allow for some local liberal flavor to seep in.

    “I also note with interest your suggestion that another nation’s diktat is a “right wing” red herring that distracts from “the real issues”.”

    The point is that it was not a “diktat.” It was a draft given to a cabinet, only some of which were reluctant to entertain it, with the proviso that if they did not consider it, GHQ would take it to the people in a plebiscite. Hardly forcing it down the throats of “the Japanese” in my opinion, no matter what their disposition towards their conquerors at the time.

    In any case, if your point is that it was a document inconsistent with the current law (although this is debatable given that the emperor promulgated it as per the Meiji constitution), which usurped the power of the hitherto legitimate government and curtailed the powers of future elites, then you are not completely wrong. But that’s what good constitutions do.
    My point is that the Americans had no business writing it to begin with.

    Lost among all these references is the fact that MacArthur ordered his staff to write the Constitution after the Japanese had already written a new one that he didn’t like.

    But strange, isn’t it, that the communist party, who in 1946 were still supporting the occupation, and therefore had every reason to give their New Deal saviors in GHQ their moral support, actually voted against acceptance of the document?

    Not strange at all. The occupation achieved the Communists’ objective of overthrowing the government, and by staying prevented its return. That doesn’t mean the Communists would want them to write the country’s laws.

    That they were the “New Deal saviors” also wouldn’t necessarily mean they would receive Communist support. In point of fact, the Roosevelt administration was more classically fascist than communist. FDR, Tugwell, and others had plenty of nice things to say about Mussolini, for example.

    — A.

  5. “after the Japanese had already written a new one that he didn’t like.”

    No. Not the Japanese. Matsumoto Joji and a few of his supporters wrote that draft. Records show that was not embraced enthusiastically by others in the cabinet, and it was actually denounced by the government as a “private plan” (Matsumoto shi-an) after it was released to the public (those “Japanese” who didn’t like it either).

    Even if you are correct here, the terms of surrender were that Japan would embrace a democratic order consistent with the will of its people. The government did not seem to be willing to make this happen (the Meiji constitution was hardly democratic, and the Matsumoto draft was basically a carbon copy of that). It seems obvious that it was incumbent on the occupying force to see that the terms of surrender were carried out in a way that was acceptable to most.

  6. >No. Not the Japanese.

    Just to be clear, I am not trying to imply here that Matsumoto Joji is not (a) Japanese (person). I am emphasizing that your phrase suggests a unified Japanese subjectivity towards the draft where none existed.

  7. […] posts about why The Bangles were better in 1983 than in 1987!). Here’s a taste from a recent commentary on the tensions between Japan and China over some small […]

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