Regarding Timothy Bedwell’s Aug. 9 letter: “A sign of giving up on pacifism“: I would like to add three points.
First, Japan’s upholding of its pacifist Constitution, while admirable, is possible only under the U.S. military umbrella. Japan can keep the Constitution, as is, only if it agrees to host, in perpetuity, the U.S. military bases, thus reducing the need to build up its Self-Defense Forces. If the bases were removed, then Article 9 would have to be altered. Okinawans, who host the bulk of the U.S. military bases in Japan, seem fed up with it all and want the bases off their island. Tokyo, on the other hand, fears upsetting America if it gives the Okinawans what they want.
Second, Japan has whitewashed its history and glossed over wartime atrocities while refusing to pay compensation to the “comfort women.” If Japan were to openly admit what it did, changes to Article 9 likely would not incense China and South Korea as much. Intimidation by rightwing elements prevent this.
Third, the pressure to change the Constitution is coming from the United States, the very country that encouraged Article 9 in 1947 then insisted on limited Japanese rearmament three years later. The amendment being proposed now is for “collective self-defense” so that Japan can come to the aid of an ally under attack — an ally whose bases it has hosted for decades.
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.