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Activist sees Japan as war addict, like U.S. in comic

The Japanese people should learn from their World War II defeat and put pressure on the government to stop the country from sliding back into militarism, the author of an American antimilitarist comic book says.

In the 77-page “Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism,” sociologist and peace activist Joel Andreas talks about the U.S. military actions overseas and how they have benefited the defense, oil and banking industries at the financial and human expense of ordinary people.

Now an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, Andreas has just updated his comic, which was first published in 1992 after the Persian Gulf War, to include the war on Iraq and the following U.S.-led occupation in the country. He is in Japan this week to promote the Japanese version of his comic, which came out in October 2002.

In an interview with The Japan Times, Andreas, 47, claimed Japan is the only major political power other than Britain that has supported the war on Iraq.

“Why (does Japan) risk (its) economic and political relations with the world by cooperating in this very, very unpopular war?” he asked.

He said he suspects there is a social force in Japan that would like to see the country have a more aggressive military stance. That is exemplified in recent political moves to revise the Constitution, which, he reckons, prohibits Japan from being “militarily involved” overseas.

“I think people in Japan know better than any other people in the world how dangerous and harmful (militarism) can be, even to themselves,” he said, because of the catastrophic defeat in World War II.

“So why (do) they repeat it now?” he asked.

“Addicted to War” has been translated into Japanese and Korean after the English version was revised in 2002 to include the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the following U.S.-led war on terrorism. A Spanish version will come out shortly, according to the publisher.

Published under the translated title “Senso Chudoku” by Godo Shuppan, the Japanese edition has sold more than 60,000 copies. The English version, published by AK Press, has sold 110,000.

Andreas said he was surprised how well the comic has sold in Japan, and figured the popularity is partly because of the people’s reliance on the mainstream U.S. media.

Japanese people’s “main understanding of the U.S. comes from the corporate media that (were) very supportive of U.S. militarist policy during the war and the buildup to the war.” he said.

“I think (my comic) in some ways presents an inside perspective about the U.S. relationship with foreign wars. It shows how it hurts American people and how their resistance was waged. I think my book gave a more hopeful perspective for the Japanese people to read.”

Andreas claimed Japan and the U.S. have a historic addiction to war. Japan’s addiction was broken when the country was defeated, but it is “going in the direction of rebuilding militarism,” he said.

He said the sorry state of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq will force the U.S. to rethink its military policy just like after the Vietnam War, but this will not fundamentally change its traditional militaristic policy.

To kick its war habit, the U.S. needs a major defeat that would trigger a “powerful conscience” of the people, as happened in Japan, he reckoned.

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