In his Aug. 4 article, “Why Japan should amend its war-renouncing Article 9,” Craig Martin tries to make a case for giving in to the demands of Japan’s rightwing by ending 65 years of pacifism. Not only do I think that this is a foolhardy idea but also that it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Disputes over land have been heating up in Asia; China, growing ever stronger, is flexing its muscles a bit. This does not, however, mean war is imminent.
China is Japan’s largest trading partner and has been for years. It would suit neither country to throw away growing economies over bits of land in the ocean, even if the islands come with substantial natural resources.
Martin lists North Korea as a reason why the Constitution should be amended, even though North Korea is showing signs of coming reform under new leader Kim Jong Un, with the sacking of the military chief.
Kim has also stated that the North Korean government’s focus will be shifting to building the economy. Indications point toward a new, more open age in North Korea, and possibly even economic partnership with China.
What would abolishing Article 9 accomplish?
It would show Japan’s neighbors that Japan has given up on pacifism, and is preparing for war. It would show that Japan has gone back on its word, and against the wishes of many Japanese who never wish to suffer the scourge of war again. Instead of building trust and cooperation in the Pacific region, it would cause distrust and animosity.
In writing, there is a technique called “Chekov’s Gun.” It refers to the idea of foreshadowing or of not introducing something in a story if it won’t have meaning later. Basically if you put a gun in a story, it is to be fired.
Japan can stake an independent and nonaligned course that will improve the lives of its people and relations with its neighbors, or it can escalate the situation by abolishing Article 9 and building a military. At this fork in the road, it would behoove the Japanese government to choose wisely.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.