‘Pacifism’ via foreign protection

It seems Timothy Bedwell (Dec. 16, “American protection not needed“) and I agree that the U.S. military needs to leave Japan, but there are a few points I would like to clarify.

First, I never said that a guarantee of U.S. protection was necessary in order for Japan to remain a pacifist country. I simply pointed out that it is hypocritical for a country to claim itself to be “pacifist” while relying on a foreign military for protection.

Contrary to Bedwell’s assertion, the official mission of U.S. forces in Japan is to protect Japan. The text of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan makes that plainly clear.

Second, non-Japanese soldiers have been placed in harm’s way in order to protect Japanese citizens. When Self-Defense forces were deployed to Iraq in 2004, they were protected (in part) by Australian soldiers.

To be fair, my original statement should have been worded more carefully: Most Japanese citizens are satisfied with the arrangement in which American soldiers would fight and die for Japanese citizens in the event of an attack on Japan.

Third, the fact that the U.S. is underwriting Japan’s security means that Japan does not bear the full cost of its own foreign policy. In the absence of a U.S. security guarantee, would Japan have nationalized the Senkaku islands? Bedwell should not take personal offense to an analogy that is apt not only for Japan but also for South Korea and Western Europe.

Self-Defense Forces or regular military, Article 9 (of the Constitution) or not — it is the Japanese who should decide on the military they want. The presence of U.S. troops makes debate on these topics impossible by skewing the relative costs and benefits.

joseph jaworski
taragi, kumamoto

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.