COLLAGE OF COMMENT
Japan and America: Marriage After 50 Years
HERBERT P. BIX, JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, PAUL WOLFOWITZ, SHINTARO ISHIHARA
Japanese Reform Is Not Possible Unless It
Herbert P. Bix is author of the controversial, best-selling
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (HarperCollins, 2000).
Soon after Koizumi Junichiro came to power in April 2001,
in an overwhelming victory for presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party,
he vowed to promote reform and fight corruption from within his party.
His chances to do so were enhanced when he and his party emerged victorious
in an upperhouse election. On both occasions the Japanese press hailed
the "Koizumi revolution" and lauded the new prime minister's
pledge to carry out "structural reforms" that would reverse
Japan's decade-long economic slump and take it into the 21st century.
But Koizumi undercut his opportunity by promising publicly that on the
anniversary of World War II's end he would visit the Yasukuni Shrine,
where the spirits of Japan's war dead, including some major and minor
war criminals, have been enshrined and designated as national deities
and "heroic spirits" (eirei). The governments of Korea and China
protested. Koizumi's foreign minister and some members of his own party
pleaded with him not to make the visit, just as some Germans in 1985 had
pleaded with Chancellor Helmut Kohl not to visit Bitburg cemetery where
49 Nazi SS killers were buried. They suggested a visit to Chidorigafuchi,
the government cemetery established in 1954 to memorialize Japan's unknown
soldiers, would be more suitable. Chidorigafuchi is officially unconnected
Koizumi said he didn't understand the criticism coming at him from home
and abroad because "Japan's prosperity was based on the sacrifice"
of its war dead. Visiting the shrine, he said, was a "natural"
thing for a Japanese to do. Immediately after winning the July 30 election,
however, he reconsidered. Two days before the official Aug. 15 ceremonies
marking Japan's surrender, he paid a rushed, early visit to the Shinto
shrine, angering all sides.
Leftists and liberals charged his act of mourning the dead was not genuine.
They accused him of violating the constitution's separation of politics
and religion and impairing friendship with Asian countries. Hawks within
his own party criticized him for bowing to Chinese and Korean pressure.
Many questioned not only Koizumi's impoverished sense of diplomacy but
also his ability to implement fundamental reforms. Unless Japan on every
important war-related anniversary acts to improve relations with neighboring
Korea and China there can be no real "structural reform," because
Japan's ability to change at home relies on its economic relations with
its immediate neighbors. Significantly, on the day of his Yasukuni visit,
blue-chip companies on the Tokyo stock market registered their lowest
average values since Japan's economic bubble first burst in the early
What makes Yasukuni so controversial is its connection
to militarism, emperor worship and an emperor-centered view of history.
Established in Tokyo in 1869 and later given its name by Hirohito's grandfather
Meiji, Yasukuni enshrines and mourns those who died for the emperor. It
effaces the distinction between those responsible for the war and its
victims, treating all equally in terms of the sacrifice of life offered
to the emperor and the state. US Gen. MacArthur abolished state Shinto
religion and disestablished Yasukuni right after World War II. His constitution
drafters then inserted a clause stipulating the separation of politics
and religion, a separation widely accepted by the Japanese public at the
This did not stop Hirohito, who had participated actively in leading the
war fought in his name, from resuming his own visits to Yasukuni and continuing
them until the mid-1970s. In 1978 14 Class A war criminals were secretly
enshrined there with the tacit cooperation of Welfare Ministry officials.
Ever since, visits to the shrine by high government officials have become
Yet the disputed legacy of the lost war only partly explains why this
relic of a discredited political order continues to roil the political
waters. Prime Minister Koizumi's visit at Yasukuni nurtures a new current
of nationalism increasingly popular among some of the younger generation
who have lived with 10 years of decreasing economic prosperity.
Throughout the occupation period (1945-52) and most of
the Cold War (down to 1991) Japanese politics rested on the notion that
Emperor Hirohito had always been a pacifist, anti-militarist and Western-style
constitutional monarch. It was said that he had been coerced by "militarists"
into supporting the war but at the last acted single-handedly and heroically
to end it. These myths of the emperor's blamelessness were designed to
maintain national unity and contain the psychological damage wrought by
defeat and American occupation.
By the time Hirohito died in 1989 and the Cold War had ended, Japanese
historians were making considerable progress in uncovering and documenting
crimes committed by the imperial armed forces, from the Nanjing massacre
to the system of "sex slavery." A few were also probing the
emperor's role in the "holy war." School textbooks screened
and approved by the Ministry of Education had begun to reflect the fruits
of this new scholarship on the war, though not yet critical analysis of
the emperor's role. Soon, however, protests from rightists and conservatives
alarmed by Japan's increasing international openness could be heard. By
the mid-1990s a backlash against "self-flagellating history"
had begun to set in.
Today, a more inward-looking current of nationalist sentiment, whipped
up by ideologues who have acquired a base among the younger generation,
underlies Koizumi's botched visit to Yasukuni Shrine. It also helps explain
why Japan has slowed its progress on textbook reform. Despite criticism
from China and South Korea, though not the US, the Ministry of Education
and Science recently approved a deeply flawed "new history"
textbook (with 137 mandated corrections) written by right-wing historians.
The swift, overwhelming rejection of the text by Japanese educators has
not impeded its sales in the bookstores, however, which suggests how complex
and contentious the current moment is.
When signed by Prime Minister Yoshida
Shigeru at the height of the Cold War on Sept. 8, 1951, the San Francisco
Peace Treaty required the Allies to abandon their quest for reparations
and war damages from the Japanese government. The Peace Treaty, craftily
drawn up by John Foster Dulles, obliged Japan to acknowledge only minimal
war responsibility by accepting the judgments of the Tokyo and other Allied
war crimes tribunals, and to pay the states that were victims of its aggression
merely token reparations. The Soviet Union and India refused to sign;
China and the two Koreas were not even invited to attend the peace conference.
These American arrangements helped lodge Japan in a permanent Cold War
position vis-à-vis its potential friends in Asia. That same day,
in return for securing the end of foreign occupation and the opportunity
to re-enter the world community, Yoshida signed a Security Treaty that
allowed the US to continue to deploy its air, land and sea forces in and
about the home islands and on strategic Okinawa.
The results have been mixed. The military alliance helped Japan to prosper
and to reestablish economic ties with Southeast Asia, but it undermined
the "peace constitution" and contributed to Japan's diplomatic
neglect of East Asia. The US used the alliance to expand and strengthen
its military hegemony throughout the Pacific, while the Pentagon continues
to hold a disproportionate voice in the making of America's Asian policy.
Japan's political leaders must confront and end their double standard
on the past. They are already stalling on paying reparations to the surviving
victims of their war. Now if they continue to focus on Yasukuni, sanitize
their history and avoid the truth about the emperor's war, they risk forfeiting
for decades the trust of their closest Asian neighbors, Korea and China.
For A Normal Military
From a conversation between Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi and Alvin Toffler from the current issue of Churo Koron,
the monthly Japanese intellectual journal.
TOKYO-If our neighbors, Korea and China, look
at the Japanese defense budget, they can see it is still very restrained
to within 1 percent of GNP. And we steadfastly maintain our non-nuclear
commitments. Japan believes the United States is our most important and
indispensable bilateral relationship. Despite the fact that we once were
enemies, deep down in our hearts, Japanese have a very strong sense of
trust vis-a-vis the Americans. We don't feel they have any territorial
ambitions. Rather than letting Japan work on its self-defense all by itself,
it is better to have a US presence and the Japan-US bilateral treaty so
that it would give a greater sense of reassurance to the neighboring countries....That
is how I see it, too.
About Article 9 of the Japanese constitution: Depending
on how you read it, the present self-defense forces may be constitutional
or unconstitutional. And I don't think that is the way things should be.
As an independent sovereign country, we have to have self-defense capabilities.
In case there is an incursion into our territories, we have to repel such
attacks. And I believe it is the military that embodies that spirit, that
attitude of ours. Even by going to the length of fighting militarily,
we must be able to defend the safety and everyday life of the people.
And if the military embodies that sort of spirit, then I believe the self-defense
forces should be seen as a military. It should be taken for granted that
any independent country should maintain a minimum level of self-defense
capability. So, my view is that the constitution should be very clear
in that respect, very easy to understand for anybody.
Article 9 does actually give up fighting forces. So there was a rather
strong argument, in Japan as well as abroad, that the self-defense forces
themselves were unconstitutional. Yet, as I have said...there can be nothing
unconstitutional about self-defense. An amendment to the Japanese constitution
ought to make that point clear.
Having said this, we also have to make clear that Japan will not resort
to force in order to resolve international disputes. That stipulation
For example, there are many countries that support Japan's becoming a
member of the United Nations Security Council. In fact, Japan's contributions
to the UN are the largest in the world alongside the US. So there is good
reason for Japan to play this international role.
At the same time, though, we shouldn't let people think that we can do
exactly the same things as the other five permanent members. If Japan
wants to become a member of the Security Council, we should raise our
hand in a way that will not mislead the Japanese or others. We have to
make it explicit that Japan must abide by Article 9 of its constitution
in any international role that it plays.
I say this because the five permanent members of the Security Council
take it for granted that the use of force is often the way to resolve
international conflicts, that resorting to threats of use of force or
use of force can be tolerated as a means of resolving international conflicts
in certain cases.
Japan is different. Should there be an international dispute, Japan could
not support the threat of or use of force if it were a member of the Security
Council. Japan can only make its contributions non-military areas.
It is with that clear understanding that I believe Japan should raise
its hand and say it wants to become a member of the Security Council.
After 50 Years, US-Japan Pact Remains Pillar of
Paul Wolfowitz, the No. 2 man in the Pentagon, is
US deputy secretary of defense and was assistant secretary of State for
East Asia during the Reagan administration. He spoke with NPQ on Sept.
NPQ | How has the strategic security situation
changed in Asia in the 50 years since the US-Japan peace treaty was signed?
PAUL WOLFOWITZ | Overall, the situation is very positive. Thanks
in part to the end of the Cold War, but also to the economic success of
the non-Communist countries in the region, we have achieved a degree of
stability there not seen in centuries.
Even North Korea, which remains a danger, is anachronistically weak. We
should not take the danger lightly, but there can be no doubt in anyone's
mind that they are not on the right side of history. That is something
that could not be taken for granted only 20 years ago.
We haven't arrived at this Pacific tranquility by leaving things alone.
The US-Japan security alliance has been crucial to achieving this result.
It is the most important relationship, bar none, that the US has. That
was true 50 years ago, it is true today, and it will likely be true 50
years from now. It is the keystone in the arch of stability.
NPQ | Though immeasurably more tranquil now than for centuries,
reportedly US threat assessments call for more focus on Asia in the future
and less on Europe. Is that so?
WOLFOWITZ | Let me emphatically reject the idea that we are moving
our focus from Europe to Asia. Like it or not, the US is a global power
with global responsibilities. We have to assess our commitments and capabilities
according to the conditions in particular regions and deploy resources
It is obvious that the environment in Europe, with the exception of the
Balkans, is even more benign than in Asia. Indeed, the fact we can still
meet all our commitments even though the US defense budget is down to
a level of US GDP not seen since before Pearl Harbor is a statement of
just how benign the global environment is today.
Having said that, the review we have undertaken since the outset of the
Bush administration confirms that the uncertainties in Asia are much larger
than in Europe.
Though there is every reason to believe we can manage the situation and
the truce will hold there, the regime in North Korea is committed to astonishing
levels of military armament. Again, I think we can manage the situation
in the Taiwan Strait peacefully, but that peace has been challenged more
than once in the last 10 years.
Then there is the emergence of China as an increasingly powerful nation.
That doesn't mean China is the new enemy. The goal is to bring a more
powerful China into a prospering Pacific community. Nothing is more important
to accomplishing that than close cooperation between the US and Japan.
The US-Japan link not only creates a security balance in the region but
also a framework in which others have positive incentives to cooperate.
For all of Japan's troubles, it is still the second largest economy in
the world behind the US. If the two of us speak together, everyone else
NPQ | One of the ways to strengthen the force structure in Asia
without more US troops is by Japan "reinterpreting" its peace
constitution to allow its "self-defense forces" to become a
normal military. This is what Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi wants.
Does the US support that? After all, Germany has deployed troops in the
WOLFOWITZ | The Germans made that decision on their own. And it
is up to the Japanese to make their own decision on this issue.
We've been able to work with Japan over 50 years within the current interpretation
of the Japanese constitution. The reason we have been so successful is
not only because there is room for skillful interpretation of the constitution,
but because our common purpose is to create stability in the Pacific and
not allow any country to impose its will on other nations.
If the Japanese feel the need to change this, it is up to them.
NPQ | But is this something that will not raise hackles in the
Pentagon, though it might in the rest of Asia?
WOLFOWITZ | One of the reasons the Japanese are so careful on this
is because they are concerned how other nations will react. And the Japanese
You mentioned the German example. They, too, have had to be careful about
the reaction of others. There is a tendency, because of the history of
Japan, for some nations to overreact. People in the Pentagon, you are
right, do not overreact to this idea, though we fully understand the need
to tread carefully.
Obviously, one of the attractions of the US-Japan mutual security treaty
is that it allows Japan to meet its security needs with forces and defense
budgets that are not a threat to its neighbors.
I'm sure the Japanese government will tread very carefully and deliberately
on this issue. And I think that is a good idea.
NPQ | The other aspect of security in the region is how a rising
China, which opposes the US missile shield as undermining its small nuclear
deterrent, views the strategic aims of the US.
Reportedly, the Bush administration has told the Chinese it will ''acquiesce''
in their nuclear modernization as a means of demonstrating the shield
is not aimed against them.
Is that true?
WOLFOWITZ | That is categorically untrue. We have concerns about
a whole range of missile issues with the Chinese-from proliferation of
missile technology to countries hostile to the US to their buildup of
short- and medium-range missiles that threaten their neighbors, potentially
Japan, to the possibility of an increase in their long-range offensive
They have been engaged in modernization of their missile forces as well
as active proliferation long before the US developed any plans for a missile
What is striking, and not sufficiently noted, is that the Chinese are
as opposed to theater nuclear defense as they are to US national missile
defense. I can only interpret that as a concern that-let me put it this
way: Our missile defense plans are not a threat to anybody. They have
the potential of taking away the ability of some countries to threaten
others. I hope China is not in that category. But it is up to them to
decide. Some of their behavior at least raises the question.
NPQ | China holds the opposite view. Recently, Chinese Foreign
Minister Tang Jiaxuan said: "People cannot but ask what on earth
is the real intention behind a US missile defense system. Is it really
to defend against the threat from a few so-called 'problem states' or
for greater military advantages over other big countries?"
How will President Bush respond to that argument when he arrives in China
WOLFOWITZ | The real question is why countries like North Korea
or Iran, with significant help from China and their good friend Pakistan,
are investing in short-, medium- and even long-range missiles that threaten
our allies, our deployed forces and ultimately the territorial US.
If they weren't engaged in those programs, we would be looking very differently
at investing billions of dollars in missile defense.
The US can probably arrive at a system that can ward off limited attacks
by fairly rudimentary countries. Both China and Russia understand perfectly
well that this is a capability that poses no threat to them-even if there
is diplomatic, political and perhaps strategic leverage in complaining
Chinese Threat Is Axis Around Which US-Japan
Relation Will Turn in the Future
Shintaro Ishihara is the governor of Tokyo.
Tokyo - The issue of how to deal with a
rising China will determine the basis of the US-Japan alliance in the
future; it is the axis around which the relationship must turn in the
The Japanese-United States relationship must be restructured to reflect
this new reality. As a sovereign nation, we must develop an autonomous
defense capacity of our own. Clearly, the time has come to review the
terms of the US-Japan security alliance set in place 50 years ago to maintain
peace and stability in Asia.
During the Clinton administration, the Japan-US Security Treaty Guideline
was amended with the containment of China's growing military might and
expansionist ambitions in mind. Yet, Clinton maintained a double standard
because he excessively lusted after the huge Chinese market. So far, the
Bush administration has emphasized the key importance of US ties with
Japan and correctly looks upon China as a military competitor, a stance
far more desirable to the Asian countries.
Can we count on all future US administrations to be as realistic as this
one? Indeed, will President Bush keep to his tough line when he visits
Beijing later this year?
Japan ought to harbor deep apprehensions about the Chinese economy. The
production system of the state companies controlled in each region by
the Communist Party utilizes a labor system unheard of in any other country.
The extensive cheap labor at its core is like a black hole into which
the economies of the other developing Asian countries are sinking. In
China's production system, labor disputes are not allowed and there is
no bargaining right over labor conditions. For other Asian nations, this
amounts to unjust competitiveness.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, China remains the "Last Empire"
that forcibly unites ethnic groups, cultures and religions while projecting
formidable military power and economic strength. Mao succeeded in uniting
ethnic groups by massacring a large number of his compatriots during the
long civil war. Deng Xiaoping earned his authority by liberating the economy
and launching the idea of one country, two systems.
Adopting a nationalist posture through territorial expansion and by flaunting
military power has been Jiang Zemin's way of consolidating dictatorial
control and maintaining legitimacy of the Communist Party.
To date, about 2 million people have been killed in Tibet and the national
culture of the people has been trampled and suppressed. If this had occurred
in Europe, NATO troops would have surely been dispatched. As it is, few
Americans other than the Hollywood actor Richard Gere seem to take much
China has also stockpiled nuclear missiles for use against India, making
their fears of Beijing's nuclear buildup and modernization well justified.
China has also begun to assert claims over territories across the region-from
the Spratly Islands in the Phillipines to the Xisha Islands in Vietnam.
Recently, China has even begun making noises over Okinawa, which was returned
to Japan by the US 30 years ago. According to one high-ranking Chinese
official, Okinawa was originally Chinese territory.
In line with this pronouncement, China has invaded the territorial waters
of the remote Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, conducting sea-bottom
oil mine tests there. Protests by the Japanese government have been feeble.
Meanwhile, China has protested the private construction of a lighthouse
at my instigation to warn of the dangerous sunken rocks on Senkaku Island.
China regards this as an "invasion" of its territory while the
present Japanese government remains hesitant about marking the lighthouse
on official sea maps.
The US does not seem to take this violation of Japanese sovereignty seriously.
In one past incident, some Hong Kong Chinese landed illegally on the Senkaku
Islands and ships from the Maritime Safety Agency (Japan's coast guard)
were dispatched to monitor the incursion. During a news conference at
about the same time concerning the rape of a female elementary school
student by several US Marines, then American ambassador Walter Mondale
was asked: "In the event of a bigger dispute on Senkaku Islands,
will the Americans take appropriate military action based on the US-Japan
Security Treaty?" He answered a flat "No."
The conjunction of these two events-the failure of our US protector to
defend our sovereignty while a group of its soldiers raped a Japanese
school girl-spoke volumes about the lack of American sensitivity and good
There are other issues, such as the Japanese citizens kidnapped by North
Koreans who entered our territory over the years. How would the American
government react if Japan were to ask them to cooperate in freeing our
That there is even a question mark about what the US would do to defend
Japan prompts me to propose that Japan should carry out its own defense
activities in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea-even though the
US has in the past reacted with extreme reluctance to Japan's desire for
the autonomous defense of our own country.
Japan should have the ability to carry out unfailing retaliation against
those who try to invade Japan's territorial waters or lands. We should
possess small, high-speed ships with missiles capable of hitting other
ships as well as planes as long as they are limited to the reaches of
Japan's territorial waters.
China has repeatedly ignored Japanese protests and dispatched warships
to circle the Japanese archipelago to carry out radar tests. We should
do the same. Or else, Japan, the US and Australia should conduct joint
maneuvers out in the Pacific or in the East China Sea.
If these legitimate efforts breed further tensions with China and grow
into a dispute, then the Japan-US Security Treaty-which calls on the US
to defend Japan's sovereignty-will have to come into play. If not, Japan
will have no choice but to reconsider our security relationship with the
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