Future of military self-restraint

The 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allied Powers has arrived. This year’s anniversary to mark the end of World War II comes as Japan, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, appears to be discarding self-restraint in the use of military forces — an important postwar principle that helped Japan gain the international community’s trust.

As then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said in his Aug. 15, 1995, statement to mark the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, Japan should not forget that “Japan … through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”

If Mr. Abe’s policy leads other countries in the Asia-Pacific region to think that the Japanese government has forgotten Mr. Murayama’s words, tensions will rise and Japan will become more isolated.

Mr. Abe’s goal is to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense: using military power to help defend an ally even if Japan isn’t being attacked. Under the traditional government interpretation of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, this is not permitted. Exercising the right to collective self-defense will be tantamount to eliminating the Constitution’s no-war clause, Article 9. In the long run, it could pave the way for the government to deploy military forces overseas for purposes other than the direct defense of Japan.

Mr. Abe plans to skirt the normal procedure to revise the Constitution by merely enacting a law that allows Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. This would amount to a de facto revision of Article 9 under a method that undermines the principles of constitutional democracy. It must be stopped.

In an interim report for the nation’s new defense program outline, the Defense Ministry hints that the government wants to have capabilities to carry out preemptive attacks on enemy missile bases. The report also calls for creating an amphibious force with landing capabilities for the defense of remote islands, similar to the role carried out by the U.S. Marine Corps, and for introducing high-altitude unmanned surveillance aircraft.

It is not far-fetched to say that Mr. Abe’s government seeks to acquire the capabilities to project military power overseas, clearly overstepping Japan’s postwar principle of “defense-only defense.”

In April, Mr. Abe told the Diet, “There is no definition of aggression, academically and internationally.” On July 29, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso referred to how the Nazi government of Germany suspended the Weimar Constitution and then hinted that the forces pushing for constitutional revisions should try to achieve their goal, slyly and secretively, by keeping people in the dark about changes to the Constitution. Japan’s leaders should realize that such statements only serve to deepen suspicions in the international community about Japan’s intentions and future direction as a nation.

The Abe government should strictly uphold the spirit of Mr. Murayama’s statement, which in part said, “Our task is to convey to younger generations the horrors of war so that we never repeat the errors in our history,” and “Japan must eliminate self-righteous nationalism, promote international coordination as a responsible member of the international community and, thereby, advance the principles of peace and democracy.”

We disagree with Mr. Abe’s goal to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. But if he is to pursue this policy course, then he must attempt to do so in a manner that upholds rather than undermines the principles of Japanese democracy.

  • Eagle

    ” We disagree with Mr. Abe’s goal to enable Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. But if he is to pursue this policy course, then he must attempt to do so in a manner that upholds rather than undermines the principles of Japanese democracy.”
    Yes, this is it. Moreover, try to defend Japan from aggressors outside without destroying her with aggressive policy inside.

    Some people as well as politicians might not be aware of what defensive control
    means. Then they get some power and start modifying the constitution in the
    first place. We know this very well. First comes the vision of the enemy, followed
    by a theory that explains how useless democracy becomes when a nation wants to defend herself from aggressors and want to be a really great nation.
    Yes, we had a very “talented” man once who even wrote this down in a book and set the world on fire.

    Now, economy is going down, outsourcing is up, Japanese people are paid miserably, consummation is down, deflation is up, rescue packages
    to create inflation only made import more expensive for a country without
    natural resources.

    What to do? The old recipe, find an enemy, tamper the constitution, kill democracy to make it easy to control the people with force when things will go really bad.

  • Murasaki

    Well as my Father is English, and I am a British Citizen I can say that

    “England … through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of all but 20 countries, when they decided to colonise the world for King and Country”

    Funny how people forget the British did what the Japanese did, but the difference it the British wipe a few races from mother earth, the Native Tasmanian Aborigines were complete wipe from the earth, there are no Native Tasmanian Aborigines, the English hunted them for SPORTS, there are Aborigines living in Tasmania again, but the have come from Main land Australia and this is just one example of ‘WHITE AGGRESSION’

    I for one and sick to the back teeth of all the Japan bashing over WWII, other countries did the same thing and still doing the same thing and no one bashes them.
    What is it with Japan bashing, it is because the Japanese refuse to stand up and challenge anyone that abuses them, so people think they have free run on dumping on Japan and Japanese?

    It seem everything I log on to Japan Times there is a story bashing Japan and comments by people that refuse to see the truth about history and who have never set foot in Japan, jumping on the band wagon firing of their mouths abusing Japan.

    I have to say in the past few years I am becoming Japanese Right Wing and I am not even Japanese.

    • Osaka48

      Japan bashing is to be expected from China and the very insecure government (CCP) as a means of distracting their populace from the onging failings and weak points of CCP governance. As the risks of “civil unrest” grow, so will “manufactured”: crisis with Japan to refocus the people’s pent up anger. It unfortunately works well for the CCP’s propaganda machine.

      I just hope it doesn’t require a military “incident” as the PLA seems to have an itchy trigger finger.

      Japan has been a “good neighbor” in the Pacific region for nearly 70 years now…living under a Constitution imposed on it by an occupying force. It is not a “Japanese” Constitution written with today’s realities in mind.

      Now Japan and its democratic neighbors are facing the militaristic hegemony and unreasonable territorial stance of China, combined with China’s huge military build-up and apparent aim to dominate the region by military force if necessary.

      It’s time for Japan to totally review its self-defense posture in view of China’s (and N. Korea’s) aggressive actions.