Freezing Armament Expenses

From the Japanese Press, Jan. 5, 1983

In November last year under new Prime-minister NAKASONE Yasuhiro a political administration was formed which advocates increased remilitarization for Japan.

In the post-war Japan remilitarization has not grown rapidly even though pressure from the US has been strong. Three reasons can be pointed out which prevented the rapid growth of militarism.

1) The Japanese people shared the wounds of the military invasions of other Asian countries, war time starvation-, and memories of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The people's desire for denouncing war crystallized to support Article 9 of the Constitution, the so-called Peace Article.

2) In that political atmosphere it was clear that forceful rearmament would not help the eco-political stabilization of the nation and would negatively affect Japan-US relations.

3) Asian countries which had been sacrificed to Japan's aggression formed a braking force to Japan's militarization.

However, because of the rapid economic growth from 1960 the economic factor became less important and in fact Japan's armed forces, the so-called Defense Force, swelled to rank 8th in the world. With an increasing GNP, the people were blinded to their economic burden for that militarization.

In the 1970s, the diplomatic relations between the USA and China improved and China's criticisms against Japan decreased. Thus, the pressure from other Asian countries was also weakened. From the latter part of the 1970s the attempt to reshape the people's consciousness through the issues of the legalization of the "Gengo" (元号emperor's era) system, emphasis on "Kigen Setsu" (紀元節national foundation day), the nationalization of the Yasukuni Shinto Shrine, the enforcement of textbook controls and debates regarding emergency laws, was a steady tactic. In this way, the Japanese people's opposition to rearmament grew weaker and weaker. At the end of the 1970s, using the Northern Islands issue and Russia's invasion of Afghanistan psychological pressures were used to strongly support Japan's remilitarization.

But once the welfare budget was cut and the burden of taxes became apparent, the remilitarization issue again became a real economic matter. In these ways the Japanese peoples anti-war feelings and the economic reasons have again become resurgent. At the same time, other Asian countries' strong opposition to Japan's remilitarization has flared up again because of Japan's textbook revisions. Not only the socialistic countries of China and North Korea, but also the anti-communist countries of South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia have all opposed the Japanese history textbook changes.

However, the situation now has changed. When the US was ruling the world economy Japan could depend on the US for the cost of armaments. Now, when the economies of the West are facing a crisis, the economic pressures resulting from armaments fall on all people. As far as opposition from other Asian countries is concerned, Japan does not recognize itself as the oppressor of those but interprets Asian voices opposing the textbook issues as "voices of fear from the little countries."

There are many reason is the inappropriate counter measure to the high price of oil. The common ground of these two reason is that people are demanding equal rights. Ignoring the social changes, both the USA and the USSR are still 20 years behind in their political changes. The present arms race by the super-powers demonstrates their political handicaps.

It is impossible to maintain "a welfare nation" along with a continuous increase in armaments. Initiated by other Asians, the Japanese people's memories of the war are coming back. If the armament costs continue to expand, the economic burden will be inescapable. Therefore, we must realize the freezing of armament expenses. The people's movements for anti-nuclear and anti-armament also aim to support the people's right to survival and to live more humanely.
SAKAMOTO Yoshikazu

(Summary/translation by JCAN Asahi Shinbun Jan. 5, 1983)
Japan Christian Activity News 593, January 25, 1983