• Hikari, Yamaguchi


Regarding ASDF Maj. Misao Nakaya’s Dec. 7 letter, ” ‘Civilian control’ misinterpreted” and a Dec. 9 article in which the judges of an essay contest defended the controversial essay that led to the recent ouster of the Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff, Gen. Toshio Tamogami: I would like to make two points concerning Tamogami’s essay and freedom of speech.

Certainly, one could argue that Imperial Japan, and its ally Nazi Germany, behaved little differently from other past imperial powers. One could argue too that Japan’s imperial ambitions were driven largely by the desire for self-preservation, reasoning — much like today’s “rogue” nations that aspire to possess nuclear weapons — that nations either became empires or colonies. One could even go so far as to argue that the massacre at Nanking and even the Holocaust were in essence little different from the fate that befell the inhabitants of Jericho and countless other peoples over the millenniums when neighboring states went to war.

However, one cannot plausibly deny that Japan and Germany were aggressor nations. Furthermore, attempting to mitigate and dilute moral responsibility, by rehashing propaganda about the need to liberate Asia from the yoke of the white man (only to put it under the yoke of the Chrysanthemum Throne with “all the world under one roof”), only detracts from other possibly legitimate points with crude jingoism.

As for freedom of speech, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently reminded U.S. forces that one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society is that the military, with its implicit threat of force, must remain resolutely apolitical, as the purpose of the military is to defend society, not define it. Thus it is customary for military officers and other personnel to resign before openly criticizing the government, or otherwise engaging in debate on public policy.

Tamogami almost assuredly knew that his disregard for these norms would constitute an encroachment on civilian control. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Tamogami and his fellow rightwing ideologues are now relishing the publicity that this “scandal” has afforded their agenda.

andrew murphy

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