Today's date:
FALL 2001



Japan and America: Marriage After 50 Years


Japanese Reform Is Not Possible Unless It Confronts Past

Herbert P. Bix is author of the controversial, best-selling book,
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 with religion.

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 1990s.

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 time.

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 charged events.

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 is important.

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 Pacific Peace

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. 5.

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 accordingly.

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 listens.

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 Balkans.

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 should be.

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 forces.

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 defense.

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 next month?

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 about it.

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 21st century.

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 notice.

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 faith.

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 citizens?

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 US.

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