Time for collective self-defense

Hisahiko Okazaki’s well-reasoned July 30 article “Japan could soften U.S. cuts” should stimulate discussion on the rights or wrongs of amending Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution.

Much has been written and said about the American-imposed, but Japanese-accepted, Constitution. Surely there is no doubt in the minds of victor or vanquished that adopting this Constitution was the right thing to do at the time. But the Japan of 1946 is not the Japan of 2013, despite a cacophony of assertions to the contrary by some of Japan’s rightfully aggrieved neighbors.

I am of that generation in which my parents saw Japan as their enemy, and the enemy of my parents is my enemy, too. In that light I feel I have a right, as a long-term and permanent resident of Japan, to express my views of my ex-enemy.

As a military man (Britain/NATO during the Cold War), I have no doubt whatsoever that this Japan would never blindly follow in the footsteps of that Japan and start a war, despite the foolish ramblings of the Japanese rightists (whose willingness to be the first to defend to their deaths their beloved country seems questionable).

Armed self-defense — with an adequately armed forces — is an undeniable right of any country, and Japan has one of the world’s most sophisticated and efficient “military,” call it what you will. No intelligent person or country should object to that, providing it is used for self-defense and not armed aggression.

Collective self-defense is only a logical extension of such a defense attitude. It is simply the means by which Japan can come to the aid or defense of any of her friends who is attacked, especially if that attack threatens Japan itself. If my friend was being assaulted, would I not come to his/her aid? Of course I would. If the assailant is armed, would I not also seek to be armed, the better to help?

Okazaki is perfectly correct when he says he believes that the time has come for such a collective self-defense, especially but not confined to the Japan-U.S. alliance. Japan is entitled to such a collective self-defense under the U.N. Charter, and it is indeed time to amend Article 9 to exercise that right. Collective self-defense is not a right to wage war and should be clearly understood as such by all Japanese and by all its neighbors.

A failure to understand and accept Japan’s need for and right to collective self-defense shows either culpable ignorance of the truth or a malicious will to distort it. Those who are guilty of either can clearly be identified by their words and deeds, and should be seen as the true “enemies” of Japan. I am not one of them!

paul gaysford
tokyo

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.