National / Politics

Oliver Stone likens Japan to U.S. vassal

Relationship said corrupt, coming at the expense of sovereignty

by Marcie Kagawa

Kyodo

Japan has an unhealthy relationship with the U.S. and should reclaim its “political sovereignty,” American film director Oliver Stone said in a recent interview.

A staunch anti-war critic who has directed a number of war and political films, the 66-year-old Stone called the U.S. relationship with Japan “corrupt” and “disgusting,” arguing that the current dynamics of the relationship leave the nation at the mercy of American whims.

“You (Japan) are really in bed with us (the United States) and you are in bed in a very strange way because you have economic power, but you don’t seem to have political sovereignty,” Stone said. “I believe that if the Japanese can free themselves from the U.S. interests, they would be a regional force for good in the world.”

Since the end of World War II, the United States has used Japan as a satellite country to take care of its business in Asia, Stone argued, for instance by setting up military bases in Japan to launch U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.

“From the beginning, (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur, it seems to me, set up a satellite country that would serve American interests in containing communism in the Far East. Japan was a satellite nation bought and paid for, and the Constitution was always violated,” the filmmaker said.

Stone added that the United States continues to misuse Japan to promote its interests in containing China via Washington’s strategic pivot from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region.

One part of the Constitution that has and continues to be violated, according to Stone, is Article 9, which he called an “idealistic, beautiful concept.”

Article 9 stipulates that the Japanese people renounce war and will maintain no military forces. But Japan maintains the Self-Defense Forces for protective purposes and also allows the presence of U.S. forces on its territory.

“I don’t know what a self-defense force means,” Stone said. “All militaries are for self-defense, so essentially you’ve subverted the Constitution, the Article 9, whatever that means, because you’ve called it whatever you want.”

Stone, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, said he continues to see strong militarism in Japan through the rhetoric and actions of its leaders.

“It’s clear from Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and Prime Minister (Eisaku) Sato (1964-1972) that there’s a lot of militaristic feeling in Japan — the old empire still breathes,” he said.

“Abe has said some very stupid things and it’s dangerous for them, for Japan, to start talking about shrines and going to worship at World War II shrines and not apologize to the Koreans or Chinese. It’s not good.

“The Germans have apologized and moved on. The Japanese, for some reason, a certain portion of that population is very rigid,” Stone said.

Stone has been vocal on other bilateral issues as well, especially the use by the United States of the worlds first atomic bombs, dropped on Japan in August 1945.

“In America, you get the attitude, a blase attitude like, oh, who cares about the atomic bomb, that was 70 years ago,” he said. “But you don’t understand that it’s the founding myth of our sole superpower culture. It gives us the right to dominate the world.

“We think of it as a good thing because it helped end the war with Japan and we’ve confused the issue, so we make our own moral code up out of that atomic bomb as a good thing.

“Every year, when we go to the real shrine, it’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have to remind people that it was unnecessary to drop that bomb,” he said.

This August, Stone will travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki with American University professor Peter Kuznick to participate in the 2013 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. The pair will also promote their 10-part documentary series and companion book collaboration, “Untold History of the United States,” released in 2012.