Sunday, June 17, 2007

How do Japanese think about the Pacific War?

I think most Japanese people think the Pacific War was a folly, which the military was out of control and must not be repeated . Elder people tell us how hard life was under the war. Shortage of many things, military controlled education, hunger, fear of death. Ex-soldiers experienced pain beyond description. Their story makes us (generations after the war) believe the war is the most horrible act a human-being can participate in or condone.

Let's see the Japanese words we use now whose origins are from the old Japanese military. These words are considered to have a negative image. "Doing something like the old Japanese Army" means a reckless act without scientific and logical thinking. Due to the fact, that the old Japanese Army soldiers were educated by a self-sacrificing mind but with poor weapons and a thoughtless war plan, many of them (about two million) became victims who were killed by not only enemies but also starvation and disease. "Announcement from the old Japanese Army Headquarters" means a censored and untrue official announcement. In the Pacific War era, the Japanese Army Headquarters kept reporting war plan success to citizens. In fact, the Japanese army lost most of the area. These examples show that Japanese people think that the Pacific War was stupid.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Pearl Harbor
Japanese people have special feelings that Japan is the only nation attacked by Atomic bombs. They think A and H-bombs are absolutely evil because they are an indiscriminate use of force and an utterly inhuman killing machine. Japanese people feel a mission to educate the evils of the A & H bombs all over the world. If you don't want to break a friendly relationship with Japanese people, you may not want to talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs as peacemakers. Japanese people cannot accept such thought, without memory of the victims. Personally, I understand that US people have such intellectual thoughts, but I have been shocked to see a scene at the Smithsonian National Air Force Museum. The boy made a V-sign with a smile in front of the plane, Enola Gay. I saw the scene as an innocent boy who made a smile in front of 250,000 victims.

On the other hand, Japanese people feel little pangs of conscience about the Pearl Harbor attack. All Japanese know the attack was a sudden offensive and the US was very angry with that. Contrary for the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think it was an unfair attack intellectually, but I feel that the Japanese don't talk about the unfairness of Pearl Harbor or admit its atrocity.

After the 90s
Maybe you find points in the above sentences. Yes, people tend to talk about their own damage, but not making damage to others. the Japanese Army created tremendous damage to Asian countries. For three decades, some Asian countries made comments that the war (invasion to Asia) part of the Japanese history textbook were inappropriate and insufficient. Like so, it is a controversial subject on how the Japanese government educates students to understand the Asian-attacker-side of Japan.

After the 90s, a movement broke out. It is "The society of making the New History Textbook". They said: The current Japanese history textbooks are over emphasizing Japan's masochistic Asian-attacker side. Therefore, we make a new textbook, which describes Japan's good side as Asian-modernizer and releaser from western countries colonization. The Pacific War was inevitable under US pressure. To know these cases makes students feel proud of Japan.

I think such a movement has relationship to Japan's huge recession through the 90s and some Japanese feel losing their pride. Under such conditions, people tend to want "national pride". In 1999, when a member of this society released a book of Japanese history, the book became a bestseller. But The New Textbook was selected by under 1% of all schools. This case means many people want "national pride" after the 90s but most schools recognize the New Textbook as inappropriate for history education.

My Opinion
I think the Pacific War and Asian-invasion by Japan were an utterly stupid act with a view from a now standard of values.
What way should Japan have gone? I can't reply a proper answer for that question. When I can answer that, I will have evaluated the war appropriately. I need to study the true history.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Constitution of Japan and the Self-Defense Forces

The Constitution of Japan, the 9th Article:
1) 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.

Japan Self-Defense Forces
Japan has the Self-Defense Forces. It consists of 240,000 soldiers.

Ground forces of other nations:
No.1 China 2.2million
No.2 North Korea 1.15million
No.3 India 1,1million,
No.7 the US 495,000
No.24 Japan 153,000

As for appropriation for defense:
No.1 US $262billion
No.2 Japan $43billion
No.3 France $37billion

From the year the Forces were established until 2001, Japanese government would always announced that the Forces have not been against the 9th article of the Constitution because it maintained exclusively defense-oriented policy: the Force can't attack enemies unless they attack Japan. In fact, the Force has never attacked enemies (but done warning shots), their main acts except defense and patrol are disaster relief and applying to Peace Keeping Operations, (PKO), etc.

The controversial topic
This relationship - the Constitution and the Forces is one of the most controversial political topics in Japan. Many people have their own opinions. In 2001, the Prime Minister Koizumi vowed that the Forces are forces therefore the Constitution must be revised for fitting reality. Some people say that the Forces are needed, but the 9th article of the Constitution is solemn and very important, so the Japanese government has to keep it. Other people argue that the Forces are obviously against the Constitution, therefore the Forces have to change themselves into troops for the UN.
I would like to refrain from making comments on this topic now. Instead, I will explain why on earth the Forces were set up and grown up even though the Constitution says "war potential will never be maintained." Because, in my opinion, this fact may be the basis and the hint for thinking on the topic of the Constitution and the Forces.

The birth and growth of Japan Self-Defense Forces under the US control
On Aug. 15 1945, Japan surrendered herself to the Allies. After that, the US occupied and controlled Japan. Due to the US's apprehensiveness for the Japanese Army, the US virtually made the draft of the Japanese Constitution which has the articles of renunciation of war. It was February of 1946. The next month of that, Churchill gave the address about "the iron curtain" It was the beginning of the cold war era. Since that time, the US changed her political lines to rule Japan and other lost nations under her control. If the draft of the Constitution was written after that time, the US may have not admit such a democratic one. In that regard, the article of renunciation of war was a production dependant on good timing.

As the cold war era proceeded, the US clarified the policy for Japan from "disarmament" to "raising to be an alliance partner of anti-communism". The Japanese government accepted (virtually, having no choice) the policy. In 1947, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs made a document wishing that the US army stay in Japan. In June of 1950, the Korean War, which meant an intensity in the cold war, broke out. As early as the next month, The National Police Reserve was established in Japan. The reserve was on a paper the group of "police", but it even had tanks. It became the Defense Agency, which was the controller of the Self Defense Force. In short, both the Constitution which has the articles of renunciation of war and the Forces were fruits of international policy of the US.

Points of controversy
As I mentioned above, the points of controversy about the relationship between the Constitution and the Forces are as follows: Japan has stronger military capability than many other nations, yet on the other hand, the Constitution has the articles about war renunciation. Both the Constitution and the Forces were established by the US.

My opinion
Then, should we Japanese revise the Constitution for fitting reality - turning the Self-Defense Forces into actual forces? In my opinion, this revision has a big demerit, therefore, we had better not change the articles of war renunciation. The demerit I think: If the Constitution admits the Self-Defense Forces as forces, the US will ask the Forces to cooperate with wars of the US, and the Japanese economic burden will increase. In 1952, the Japanese government made a secret promise that the Forces of Japan is controlled under the US military in case of emergency. Now the Constitution works as a certain brake against the US's military request.

Some people say that the articles of war renunciation should be revised because it doesn't fit the reality (Japan has strong military power). I think many other articles don't fit the reality. For example: the 15th Article All public officials are servants of the whole community and not of any group thereof. Fundamentally, the Constitution, laws and so on, should not be revised for fitting the reality.

Then, should the Self-Defense forces be maintained? I think they should be reduced. This is the reason why: After the end of the cold war, many other countries reduced their forces, however the Self-Defense Forces only reduced slightly. As most members in the Forces wanted to continue living off the Forces salary, they didn't quit as other official servants did. Of course, even though after the cold war, there is an imaginary enemy near Japan (North Korea). She has only old weapons, so a military expert said that the Self-Defense Forces could guard Japan from North Korea by 1/10 of the Forces power.

The birth, growth and relationship between the Constitution of Japan and the Self-Defense Forces isn't normal, however I think the articles of war renunciation shouldn't be revised. It should maintain its position as a brake for the US.