Peace for Life: Militarization of Japan
International Conference on Peace for Life in North East Asia
Korea Christian Faculty Fellowship
15. – 19. May 2005 at Roman Catholic Retreat Center, Uiwang, Korea
The Militarization of a Pacifist State - The Case of Japan 
The Post-Defeat Pacifism of Japan and its Erosion.
The militarization of Japan is now developing in full speedi. The adoption by the Japanese Diet of a series of new legislations aimed at militarizing this country which has continued to claim to be a pacifist Nation, repentant of its past history of military expansion and proud of being the only nation to have experienced the “atom bomb” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The more efforts by the ruling elite is required to militarize this country, the stronger has been the pacifist conviction of this nation which has adopted, in 1947, a “Peace” Constitution renouncing the use of military force to solve international conflicts and the possession of a military force.
Now, after a little more than fifty years, the Japanese Government, and the majority coalition of the Liberal-Democratic Party and the Komei Party, wants to abrogate the Constitution. Even before doing so, the Government has passed, often ignoring due process, a series of legislations preparing Japan to become a “normal State”, i.e. one which does not renounce to use military means and to possess military force. Japan, this pacifist State, must be turned into a militarist State. We will see how different “longue duree” and short-term conditions are combined to determine the Japanese Government and the elite supporting it to adopt this path, which is believed by quite a large portion of the public opinion to be, not only unethical but also unrealistic.
There has been within the right wing of the LDP, a persistent trend, since the 1950s, towards abrogation of the Constitution. It was not strong enough to put into question the legitimacy of the “Peace” Constitution, since the supporters of abrogation were not enough numerous in the Diet to pass a resolution to abrogate it, since they did not have the required two third of the votes in the Diet.
In the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War, when the world was demilitarizing, Japan took an opposite course towards militarization. This was because Japan had been accustomed, during the Cold War, to take international decisions always in terms of its alliance with the United States. The end of the Cold War was not perceived as an end to potential East West conflagration and the opening of a peaceful age, but rather as the end of bipolarity, leaving the ally of Japan, the unipolar hegemon whose security expectations on Japan had to be satisfied by its Government.
After a brief inter-regnum of non-LDP coalition governments, when some efforts were made to reorient the Japanese diplomacy from its emphasis on the U.S.-Japan axis, the re-turn to an LDP led coalition government brought back Japan to its fixation on the U.S. and the abrogation of its Constitution became a target for the Diet which had now secured the necessary three third majority.
This change was caused by the adoption of a revised electoral law, which was based on the small conscription system allowing for only one elect per constituency. This allowed the LDP to eliminate the opposition elects who had been, till the end of the 1980s, elected with less votes than the LDP candidates. The defenders of the “Peace” Constitution were numerous but always outnumbered by the LDP candidates who were supported by the lo-cal political bosses who were receiving in return locally profitable projects improving the infrastructure of their local economy. The 1990s saw a new electoral system, profiting local interests to the detriment of the broader national ideal represented by the pacifism of the Constitution.
This influenced the composition of the Japanese Diet, both the Lower and the Upper Houses, and made it possible for those who wanted to de-pacify Japan to go further in their attempt to abrogate the Constitution. This trend was, unfortunately, accompanied by another, which could be called Constitutional skepticism. Since the 1950s, the Japanese citizens had been accustomed to see Japan militarize itself in reality, while declaring its faith in the “Peace” Constitution. Since Japan was not supposed to have any military forces, it began by the creation of a Police Reserve Forces (Keisatsu Yobi-tai), it then formed a “Self Defense Force” which budget kept increasing, making Japan one of the most militarized countries as far as its military budget was concerned.
Till the end of the Cold War following the fall of the Soviet Empire, Japan kept the dualis-tic State Constitutionalism adopted in the 1950s, i.e. playing formally the role of a “pacifist State” as the first and only victim of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the 1947 “Peace” Constitution adopted under Occupation, while militarizing itself infor-mally under the increasing pressure from the United States.
The Post-Cold-War age international environment of Japan ceased to permit it to continue this dualism. Firstly, it had to face in East Asia, the same problem as the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union. As the United States needed a new enemy and forged the concept of the “rogue States”, Japan needed a threat replacing the potential enemy, the eventual Soviet invasion. The Japanese Government and its faithful ally, the Japanese press invented a new threat, the DPRK called “North Korea”. This country already labeled as one of the rogue States by the United States was developing a new missile system targeted across the Pacific, the Tepodon missile, which gave to Japan an appropriate pretext to iden-tify this new threat as a reason to continue to rely on the American Nuclear Umbrella after the disappearance of the Soviet threat.
Another new source of threats, the transnational criminal organizations and the global ter-rorists, first identified by the United States as a “new threat”, then expanded to the G7 also became a major concern of the so far peaceful and unprotected Japanii. The globalization of migrant labor movement helped create an awareness of “illegal migrants” and “bad for-eigners” legitimizing an increasing immigration and police surveillance of potential threats from the Koreans and new migrants. The Mayor of Tokyo began to invite the Self De-fense Force to participate in its earthquake emergency exercises to control eventual upris-ings by bad foreigners in the event of natural calamities. As to terrorism, the Japanese public was hypnotized by the “terrorist” occupation of the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996-97. Under these domestic and international new threats, the Japanese government supported by the press launched a campaign to sensitize the Japanese public, which lacked the sense of “crisis management” indispensable in the global age. The Peace Constitution was criticized for having given to the Japanese citizens a false sense of living in a closed peaceful country in spite of all the threats and insecurities surrounding this island nation.
In the 1990s, Japan began to participate in the UN Peace-Keeping Operations, insisting on not being involved in military conflicts but specializing in the logistic supports of different kind. The erosion of the belief that the “Peace” Constitution meant what it said, was thus based on the “broad” movement giving a new threat perception to the Japanese public. A review of the ambiguous definition of Article 9 of the Constitution given by the successive LDP Governments till the 1990s became unavoidable. Such reinterpretation accompanied the different decision they made in response to the demand for a Japanese military partici-pation in the global strategic efforts of the United States.
The Japanese Governments had been accustomed to respond to such pressures, by men-tioning the “constraints” imposed on them by the Constitution, and accepting to cooperate with the United States, “within the constraints of the Constitution”. By doing so, the suc-cessive Japanese Governments gradually eroded the pride and trust given by the Japanese citizens to their Constitution, and accustomed them to think that it did not fit with the emerging realities surrounding Japan, and thus prepared for its abrogation. The Pacifist State created in the late 1940s, during the U.S. Occupation, was now gradually replaced by a militarist State, with a new Constitution denouncing the unrealistic principles introduced by the American Occupation Forces. This new militarist Japan is now gradually emerging, as a subaltern militarist State supporting the global military hegemoniii.
This trend from a pacifist state towards military participation in global politics has been the object of a national debate, which produced a great number of articles and studies, as well as analytical descriptive studies. “Saigunbi” or “Remilitarization” was the label used by both the pros and the cons. This term disappeared around the 1990s, perhaps Japan had become one of the military powers in terms of its military budget, so that to talk about “re”-militarization was no more a relevant term to define what became known by the “spe-cialists” as “militarization” without a comparable common-language expression whereas saigunbi had been a term used in the press and in public discussion about the abrogation of the Constitutioniv.
The saigunbi debate began with an asymmetrical denunciation by the intellectuals, who were in a great majority for-peace-Constitution, and appealed to the public opinion to op-pose the tacit moves of the Government to “remilitarize” Japan. It was only in the 1970s, after the defeat of two mass demonstrations to oppose the renewal of the U.S.-Japan Mu-tual Security Treaty, in 1960 and 1970, that a vocal opinion pro-remilitarization emerged and developed a public debate on this key issue for Pacifist Japan.
The debate was characterized by the polarization of opinion journalism con or pro remili-tarization. Since the 1950s, the intellectual opposition to the gradual tacit remilitarization campaign led by the LDP Government was led by the intellectuals working with the Iwa-nami Publisher. They were called the Iwanami Group and it was the intellectual magazine of general interest, “Sekai” published by Iwanami which published many of the articles opposed to remilitarization. It was only in the 1970s that new magazines dedicated to tak-ing position against Sekai, such as Shokun which began to publish pro-remilitarization articles.
1970s was also characterized by a key incident in Japanese intellectual history, Ikutaro Shi-mizu, one of the leading intellectuals of the Iwanami Group who played an active role in supporting the Zengakuren student movement during the 1960 Anti US-Japan Mutual Se-curity Treaty demonstration decided to change board and joined the pro-remilitarization intellectuals. His course change was so radical that he began to proclaim the right of Japan, as the first victim of nuclear bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to develop nuclear arma-ment.
The remilitarization debate, however, began to loose interest in the eyes of the general public in the 1980s, when the tacit remilitarization was progressing anyway. The opponents to remilitarization tried to raise their voice against the mounting tide of militarization. An LDP liberal politician, Tokuma Utsunomiya founded an institute on disarmament, the Ut-sunomiya Gunshuku Kenkyuu-Shitsu (Utsunomiya Study Centre on Disarmament Issues) and began the publication of a small journal, the “Gunshuku-Mondai Shiryo or “Docu-mentation on Disarmament Issues” in 1980. This monthly review is still one of the few magazines publishing articles and documents regarding the militarization of Japan from a critical point of view. This effort, and that of researchers on nuclear issues, such as the nu-clear problem research center called the Peace Depot have been powerful but isolated voices in the wilderness, in the 1980 Japan which was enjoying its “bubble economy” by strengthening its ties with the United States, including military cooperation. In the 1990s, the debate reemerged in the post-Cold-War world, under a completely reversed situation.
Whereas remilitarization was the target of criticism by the leading intellectual media from the 1950s to the 1980s, the majority opinion journalism of the 1990s was in support of militarization, against a critical opinion loosing ground in the media and the think tanks. The argument of the pro-militarization opinion was crystal-clear, Japan had to become a “normal State”. To this end Japan was now expected to abrogate its “Peace” Constitution. And to revoke its Constitutional commitment to a no-war demilitarized State. This was ar-gued to be indispensable if Japan wanted to play an active role in the global management of conflicts, alongside with the United States, now the unipolar hegemonv.
New Research Centers began to develop an active advocacy for militarization (sometimes with restraints sometimes without any). Among them we can cite as an example the most influential think tank, the Japan Forum on International Relations, which is serving as a think tank to the Japanese government and to the major corporate interestsvi. This Forum, composed by leading researchers and practitioners in international relations This Forum as well as a number of think tanks and magazines as well as news papers began, in the 1990s, to develop “realistic” policy recommendations for the militarization of Japan. The Forum is typical in presenting the need of militarization as a requirement for the US-Japan security cooperation. It develops its argumentation in line with the American strategic plans. This is why we must now turn to this aspect of the Japanese road to (re)militarization.
The U.S. Japan Mutual Security Treaty and the (Re) Militarization of Japan
It is important to trace this shift in the Pacifist Japan from the 1950s to the 1990s, to see more clearly how Japan turned itself into an openly militarist State, after a long period of informal and covert militarization, under the cover of an officially pacifist Statevii. Japan had signed alongside with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Mutual Security Treaty with the United States. This was a basically contradictory policy, to renounce in its Constitution the use of any military force and to sign such a Treaty relying on the military forces of the United States which national strategy in the “Far East” (which definition continued to ex-pand, to the extent of including the Indian Ocean and Iraq,) was becoming the national objective of Japan.
This Treaty was supposed to be a temporary measure waiting for the United Nations to exercise fully its prerogatives and becoming capable of protecting Japan from outside threatsviii. It defined as the object of joint action by the two signatory States “the military attack in the territory of Japan as triggering off joint action against this common threat”ix, and the “contribution to the maintenance of peace and security in the Far East” as the reason for Japan to allow the military Forces of the united States to use facilities and areas in the Japanese territoryx.
It became a means for Japan, as the frontal State of the “Free World”, to be protected from potential attack from the Eastern bloc, either from the Soviet Union or from China. Then gradually came up the issue of the threat from the DPRK. Japan, a country officially opposed to nuclear armament was relying on the “nuclear umbrella” of the United Statesxi.
This apparently contradictory policy, of a pacifist State relying on military support of the world largest militarist State had, nevertheless, a twofold benefit on the development of the Pacifist State of Japan. On the one hand, it permitted it to economize on military spending and concentrate on developing its economy to the benefit and welfare of its citizens. On the other, it permitted Japan to refuse to participate in the military adventures of the United States. Japan did not send any troops to Korea during the Korean War. It did nei-ther during the Vietnam War. This permitted for the Japanese economy to grow through the additional demand generated by the war economies, of the two wars. The economic miracle of the Japanese economy and of the East and South-East Asian tiger economies were accelerated considerably by the pacifism of Japan combined with the military adven-turism of the United States.
The history of Japan as an officially pacifist and really militarizing State has been paved by statements of good intentions in keeping the “Peace” Constitution while accepting gradually the American demand for Japan to shoulder its security burden. The renewal, with revision, of the Mutual Security Treaty of 1960 was the occasion of a proliferation of Anti Mutual Security Treaty demonstrations, which forced President Eisenhower to cancel his official visit to Tokyo. This tide of demonstrations, and the similar ones which took place in 1970s, as part of the worldwide Student uprisings, were two occasions when the Japanese public manifested its will to stick to its “Peace” Constitution and abrogate the Security Treaty with the United States. The official pacifist State of Japan was opposing the rise of the un-official militarizing State.
The 1955 Bi-Polar Regime
The Japanese politics supporting a combination of an official pacifism and an unofficial militarization was developed under the so-called 1955 regime which continued until the early 1990xii. Under this political regime, Japanese politics was bi-polarized and stabilized by a cooperative game between the bureaucrats and the politicians, based on a tacit coopera-tion between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Socialist Party, two major parties, one in power the other in opposition during the whole period, who had agreed to disagree in the Parliamentary debates and then pass different legislations good for the economic growth of Japan.
This domestic "peace” was broken only by periodical people's "uprisings", at the time the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty was to be renewed. The 1960 and 1970 were two such occasions. The 1960 Struggle succeeded in obstructing Eisenhower visit to Japan but could not object to the automatic renewal of the Treaty. The 1970 Anti Treaty Struggle was fought as an apogee of the worldwide “Student Uprising” of 1968-1970. It ended in a dramatic defeat of the militarized anti-systemic movements, which had been fragmented into mutually antagonistic factions who fought and killed each other.
The anti-systemic movements, all in favor of maintaining the Peace Constitution, and all opposed to the government policy to increase the Japanese burden sharing in the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty by militarizing gradually and unofficially, met a strong police repression, and was unable to organize a common front against this repressive gov-ernment offensive. The 1968 to 1970 popular movement against the U.S.-Japan Mutual Se-curity treaty and the Vietnam War was a part of the worldwide movement originating from the universities. In Japan also it mobilized several hundred thousand demonstrators. The police repression was skillful enough to divide this movement which ended-up in a milita-rized violent infighting between the more radical sects creating a disillusionment among the more pacific citizens. The ideological fight between the Communist Party and the Zenga-kuren (All Japan Student Federation), and the in-fighting between the different factions of the Zengakuren, developed into a social militarization reproducing violent oppositions be-tween these factions. This had a repercussion on the militarization of the State of Japan, by depoliticizing the civil society, loosing the political will to oppose the anti-Constitutional policies of the Government. Social depolitization thus followed the social militarization of the 1968-70 popular movementxiii.
It was one of the militarized anti-systemic movements, the Red Army of Japan, which de-cided in 1972 to move out of Japan and fight alongside with the Palestinian freedom fight-ers. This movement introduced into the Palestinian guerilla tactics the “kamikaze” tech-nique and contributed to the militarization of the anti-systemic movement in West Asia. This negative contribution of the Japanese to the international fight against militarization and colonialism was, however, a positive example of Japanese breaking the xenophobic ex-ceptionalism of the pacifist Japan.
The return of one of the leaders of the Red Army, Fusako Shigenobu, who decided in 2001 to come home to Japan and submitted herself to the judicial authoritiesxiv, in order for her Palestinian-Japanese daughter to know Japan may be seen as a non-masculinist manifestation of self criticism by one leader of the militarized 1968-70 movement. She continues to see the importance of the international solidarity between the Japanese and the Palestinian peoples, but criticizes the violent tactics adopted by her group and by the radical students in their pacifist movement. We must take note of this gender dimension of the evaluation of the 1968-70 movement, but must not forget also its anti-xenophobic di-mension. The conviction of Fusako Shigenobu and of her comrades that the liberation of the Palestinian people was inseparable from the liberation of the Japanese people was an interesting exception to the leading exceptionalist pacifism of Japan.
The 1970 movement had, as we already said, a negative effect on the capacity of the civil society to oppose to the Government militarization efforts. It was the militarization of the anti-systemic movements that made the generation of the 1970 anti militarist movement disillusioned by the militarization of the anti-systemic movement. They decided to shut their mouth and cease to take any position judged “political” by the State and the civil society, since they feared that this may lead Japan into social militarization and bloodshed. This attitude was transmitted to the generations which followed them, and caused a general de-politicization of the civil society in the 1970s and 80s.
4. Some Exceptions to the Exceptionalist Pacifism
This prevailing apathy had some exceptions. It was the anti-Vietnam War citizen’s move-ment which was founded by non-partisan intellectuals. A new type of non-violent and non-partisan social movement against militarization emerged in the 1970s and grew in the 1980s. This new trend was represented by the Be-Hei-Ren, the Alliance for Peace in Viet-nam, which decided to act as a citizen’s movement independent from the Socialist or Communist Party, or from the Unions and Student Movements in their fight against the Japan-U.S. pro-Vietnam-War cooperation. Their appeal to concerned citizens was not only an effective strategy in the 1970s when the unions and mass movements were forced to keep quiet. It proved also to be useful in preparing the age of the NGOs, when the mobi-lization of concerned “volunteers” among the NGO participants was becoming crucial.
This is when emerged the people’s power intellectuals who continued to exercise their in-fluence in the 1980s and 90s. One of the leading figures in this non-violent social move-ment opposing militarization and promoting the Constitutional pacifism of Japan was the late Yayori Matsui. Her broad activities were not restricted by the prevailing exceptionalist irresponsible pacifism, and she was active in the denunciation of the irresponsibility of the State of Japan in refusing compensation to the victims of the “Comfort Women” military sexual slavery. She developed a variety of activities in solidarity with the Asian women, in-cluding the victims of Japanese industrial expansion, sex tourism and trafficking. It is in-teresting to take note of the fact that a number of social movements, where women were working within organizations with gender equality, have taken similar directions breaking the exceptionalist pacifism and linking the search for peace with the critique of the Japa-nese economic expansionism which was gradually adding a military dimension. Among such social movements we can mention the two examples of the Pacific Asia Resource Centre (PARC) and of the People’s Plan 21.
The above discussion shows that in spite of the fact that the exceptionalist pacifism char-acterizing the post-Occupation State of Japan, turned into a mere symbolic reality under the post 1970 depolitization of the civil society, there were still some social movements which were carriers of a pacifism combined with a broader world view, conscious of the necessity to overcome different xenophobic trends hidden in the Constitutional pacifism. Alongside these trends in the Japanese civil society, it is necessary to point out the impor-tance of the anti-base pacifism developed by the Okinawa people, since the early 1970s. Quite contrary to the “mainland”, Okinawa did not experience a depolitization of its civil society.
The constant insecurity generated by the American military bases did not permit the Oki-nawa society to ignore the political realities of the unofficial militarization progressing un-der the cover of the official pacifism. Okinawa, where 75%of the American bases are lo-cated within their small territory, has been exposed to the insecurity generated by the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty permitting the stationing of American military forces. We must stress, in connection with the development of the anti-militarization movement in Okinawa, the exceptionally important role played by women in this fightxv.
It was in 1995 that they were faced by the raping of high school student by three American soldiers, just after their participation in the Beijing Women Conference where they had supported a worldwide resolution to combat the violence against women caused by milita-rization. Upon their return, some of them organized a protest movement, sending a peace caravan to the United States. Their call for justice and for the elimination of the military base threat from Okinawa was met by a mass mobilization of the whole Okinawa civil so-ciety, and received also support from the main-land civil society. The gender-based military threats of the American bases were thus met by a civil society movement led by the femi-nists.
This example show that in spite of the over-all de-politicization of the civil society in Japan, and the exceptionalistic Constitutional pacifism, there were some seeds of a more univer-salistic pacifism, when the end of the Cold War and the establishment of a uni-polar global hegemony made the Japanese ruling elite decide to abolish the contradictions existing so far between the Peace Constitution and the covert trends of remilitarization, by abrogating the Constitution and starting a new global State, no more dedicated to the lofty ideals of peace and demilitarization. We will come back on this cause for hope in the dark ages of the re-militarizing of the Japanese pacifist State.
We must, before proceeding to the present, see how the Japanese government developed its informal activities for the remilitarization of Japan under Constitutional pacifism. These efforts were successful because they were supported by the ruling elite, government offi-cials, conservative politicians, business executives of the transnational corporate sector,
From the 1950s, but more actively from the mid 1960s on, an unofficial militarizing State was informally developing itself, especially through the efforts of the Self Defense Forces, and the activities of right wing politicians in and out of the Diet. As early as 1965, the Joint Staff of the Self Defense Forces developed a clandestine simulation on emergency, called the Operation “Three Arrows”. The Socialist Party divulged this secret plan, which was in-cluding the ceasure of power by the military forbidding the operation of the Diet and the Executive. The study about emergency situations and about the legal measures required for the military to operate legally and freely in response to outside threats and battle in the Japanese territory. This included a variety of limitations of civilian activities, and already prefigured the recent merger between external security and internal security, i.e. between military and police activities.
This covert effort to militarize Japan was supported by the big business corporate commu-nity of Japan, especially its sectors, which would benefit from militarization. The Japanese heavy industries and high tech. Industries had to compete with their counterparts in the United States, heavily subsidized by the State. This became a serious problem following the explosion of the Japanese “bubble” economy, which occurred simultaneously with the end of the Cold War and the creation of the American unipolar hegemony, at the beginning of the 1990s. The Japanese industries found it natural to insist on the development of a na-tional capacity to provide armament to the Self Defense Force. The R. and D. activities in-cluded not only dual use technologies but also military technologies which became the ob-ject of Japan-U.S. cooperation in the field of “security industries”. This trend was formal-ized in 1997 as the IFSEC(U.S.-Japan Industrial Forum for Security).
We cannot, however, hold responsible the corporate sector for the hidden militarization progressing behind the screen of the official Constitutional pacifism. We must recognize the fact that the Japanese civil society itself facilitated this trend by the way they developed an exceptionalist understanding of the 1947 Constitution. This Constitution declared that the State of Japan was renouncing on the use of military force to achieve its national objectives, and that it would not hold any military forces. From the 1950s to the 1990s, this constitutional pacifism was maintained while covert activities were remilitarizing unoffi-cially this pacifist State. Since the end of the 20th Century, the Japanese ruling elite wants now to abrogate this Constitution. The reason for abrogation is mainly that it is a Constitu-tion given by the American occupation forces, and that it is unrealistic in the global age.
This “volta facie” of Japan, from a Pacifist State to a militarized “normal State” is inter-preted in different ways by those who want Japan to militarize and those who want Japan to remain “pacifist”. The conservative and right wing opinion, see the official recognition of Japan’s already considerable military capacity with satisfaction. It is natural for Japan to re-nounce to its “unrealistic” pro forma “Pacifism”, and join the industrialized countries in exercising their “international responsibility” to join in the “peace-keeping” activities and the “collective security” measures it is expected to perform. For those who want Japan to refuse becoming a fully fledged militarized State, this is an unacceptable situation, and we want to insist on keeping the present Constitution. We cannot but be opposed to this at-tempts to give a last blow to the “Peace Constitution” abrogating its Article 9 after having ignored it practically for so long. Yet, we must recognize that, just to try to maintain the superficial legitimacy of the Peace Constitution is not enough to stop the rising tide of militarization which dominates Japanese politics supported by the mass media, national and international.
5. The “Small Japan” Ideology and Its Negation
We will, therefore, try to go beyond the denunciation of the now predominant anti-Constitutionalism of the ruling elite, and attempt a review of the different hidden as-pects of the failure in the social reproduction of the pacifist principles adopted by the Japanese people in 1947, after the defeat of the militarist imperial State of Japan. We will neither take the position of the extreme right which wants Japan to militarize, to the extent of building a capacity to develop nuclear armament, nor the fatalistic attitude of the con-servative opinion that Japan cannot help militarize to fulfill its obligation towards the United States and the international community. Just to denounce their opportunism is no more useful to understand why this pacifist State is militarizing itself.
We will rather take as a starting point the three State theory developed by Kang San-Jung, who defines the present process of militarization of Japan as a new regime he calls the 1999 Regime, as a manifestation of a new global State of Japan in its stage of gestation. To follow roughly, his analysis, we will analyze the present day Japan as a newly emerging global State different from the Second pacifist State of Japan. After the highly militarized first State created at the time of the Meiji Restoration, and led the expansionist wars in the 1930s and40s, and the second Pacifist State founded during the occupation following the Defeat of the First State, a new global State, again militarized as a subaltern State to the United States is under construction. The recognition of the fact that Japan cannot remain a pacifist State does not imply that we must accept its militarization. On the contrary, we should ask ourselves, whether Japan cannot build a new State, reinterpreting its pacifist po-sition in response to the global pressure for militarization it receives from the hegemon and from its own nationalist ruling elite. Just to stick to the official pacifism of its Constitution is not enough to oppose the formalization of a long trend of hidden militarization, which is now appearing in the public arena.
We must identify a number of socio-cultural and politico-economic factors, which facili-tated the rebirth of the Japanese militarist tradition under the cover of a pacifist legal cover-up. The pacifist State of the post defeat Japan was in fact not so different from the pre-defeat militarist first State of Japan, and this was why we see this State replaced by a militarist Third State fitting to the “global standards” of the American uni-polar hegemony.
Firstly, the new Constitution of 1947 kept the patriarchal authority of the Emperor as a “symbol of national unity”. Patriarchal/clientelist human relations continued to play a key role in rebuilding Japanese economyxvi. The “companies” developed into new units of pa-triarchal allegiance, and the patriarchal family system remain strong, obstructing the devel-opment not only of gender equality but also of individualism and respect of human dignity. The demilitarization of the State, conducted by the American occupation Forces did not succeed in reducing the power of the bureaucrats, and their administrative guidance kept the State authority intact in the eyes of the Japanese citizens whose economic well-being was guaranteed by the rapid growth of the Japanese economy achieved thanks to the co-operation between the Government bureaucrats and the business elite leading the big cor-porate sector.
The Constitution of 1947 gave to the Japanese citizens a guarantee for their fundamental rights, it failed to develop an understanding about the universality of human rights. The democratization of education started by the American occupation authorities was soon re-placed by an education of good citizens, peace-loving and dedicated to the welfare of fel-low Japanese. Japan was described as a peace-loving country, which Article 9 guaranteed that the Japanese will not be involved in international wars. Japan was for the Japanese an exceptional country, protected by the United States. We were lucky enough not to be sent to fight in Korea during the Korean War, and not to Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Our economy had profited from these two wars, thanks to the Peace Constitution.
This exceptionalism characterized the Japanese society of the pacifist State period. It was called sometimes a “small Japan” ideology, which was better than the “great Japan” ideol-ogy in refusing to be expansionistic militarily, but was not less ego-centric in distinguishing the Japanese from the other peoples of the world. Keeping out foreigners from the homo-geneous patriarchal Japan whose national unity was making it wealthy.
The “small Japan” ideology has been, since the 1970s, the cause of non-military violations of human rights, especially regarding the racist and sexist treatment of women migrant workers and trafficked victims. It gradually developed in creating an anti-foreigner feeling supporting police surveillance and regulation of “bad” and “suspect” foreigners, and pre-pared the ground to join in the “War on Terrorism”.
Internationally, economic expansion was not forbidden by the Constitution, and this en-abled Japan to develop a non-military sphere of influence in East and South East Asia. Ja-pan thus succeeded, since the 1960s, in playing a subaltern role to the United States in this region. While the American Government was building bilateral military ties with the re-gional countries belonging to the “Free World”, Japan developed a multilateral network of economic exchange reinforcing the American military alliance system.
This support to the American military efforts in the Region was not seen as contradictory to the spirit of the Constitution, in spite of the fact that it stipulated clearly in its Preamble that Japan recognized the rights of all peoples of the world to live in peace, free from fear and wants, and was linking the military threat generating fear with the economic exploita-tion creating wants It is important to take note of the fact that the Japanese subaltern role to American hegemony has been gradually transformed from an economic support to a military one. This expansion of the subaltern role of Japan has been supported by the conservative as a means for Japan to develop its regional hegemony in the Asia Pacific, by the extreme right (including the former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone,) it has been a temporary move to prepare for a future de-linking from the United States and aiming at a global Japanese hegemony. It is easy to understand that both positions have contributed to the covert trend towards the remilitarization of Japan.
The Constitutional pacifism of Japan has another serious limitation in that it is narrowly interpreted not only by the ruling elite but more generally by the civil society in general. The “right to live in peace” has been interpreted to be provided for the Japanese citizens, whereas it was originally a manifestation of remorse by Japan which had infringed this right of the peoples it had violated during its First Militarist State period. The right to live in peace was thus called upon by pacifist citizens in the court cases where the activities of the Self Defense Forces was claimed to violate their right to live in peace. Most recently, among a number of court cases about the unconstitutionality of sending the Self Defense Forces to Iraq, the first ones was defining their cooperation with the American occupation as a violation of the rights to live in peace of the Japanese troops, omitting its violation of the same rights of the people of Iraq, which should have been mentioned first if the original intentions of the Preamble of the Constitution was correctly understood. In this way, the Japanese civil society has developed an exceptionalistic pacifism, claiming that Ja-pan and the Japanese were bound by the Constitution to remain unarmed and pacific.
The Japanese pacifism was not only exceptionalistic, it focused the public attention of the Japanese civil society on “peace” and war, avoiding any reference to the responsibility of States and peoples in waging wars, committing atrocities, and establishing colonial domina-tion, political or economic. The reference to “Peace” originated during the time of U.S. Occupation. It was a means for the American occupation Forces and the Japanese elite to avoid a public debate about both the American nuclear attack responsibility in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the war responsibility of Emperor Showa in colonizing Korea, aggress-ing China and invading South East Asian countries.
War was bad, and not whoever was responsible for it. To refer always to peace opposing war was an easygoing way to avoid discussing past and future responsibility of Japan not to violate the right to live in peace of the non-Japanese majority of humankind. This irre-sponsible pacifism had both a racist and sexist origin, which has been well illustrated by the case of the “Comfort Women”, which was hidden until the end of the Cold War, and then the Japanese State refused to make compensation to the victimsxvii.
The above points have to be stressed in understanding the strange combination which has characterized the past half century of a Japanese pacifist State. Remilitarizing under an of-ficial cover of Constitutional pacifism.
6. The War on Terror as a Last Blow on Pacifist Japan
The covert nature of the militarizing part of the State of Japan, which had continued till the end of the Cold War, emerged gradually from the shadow and became the object of official reforms by the Government, following the emergence of the Bush Sr. “New World Order”, where Japan found profitable to assert its role as a subaltern militarized State. We must not forget that before the final blow was given to the formal pacifist State, some last hopes appeared in the form of the Report of the Commission on Defense Issues (Boei Mondai Kondan-Kai) established by Prime Minister Hosokawa, during the in-ter-regnum when the LDP was on the benches of the Opposition. This Report was trying to develop a new formula, which tried to bridge the gap between the pacifist and the mili-tarizing States of Japan, seeking to avoid making it a subaltern militarization by developing first a multilateral regional security system before recognizing officially the remilitarization of Japan.
With the return of the LDP in power, this alternative militarization was rejected and re-newed efforts to respond to the U.S. demands led to a series of new legislations, preparing for the elaboration of a new Military State, as the Third State of Japan (reminiscent of the German Third Reich!) after the First State, i.e. the Meiji Imperial Military State, and the second State, i.e. the Post U.S, Occupation Pacifist State.
The trends toward this new militarized State began openly by an official pressure from the United States, in response to the above mentioned Report of the Commission on Defense Issues. Its emphasis on the priority to develop a multilateral regional security system was understood correctly, by the U.S. experts on Japan, to mean that Japan may want to operate independently from the U.S,-Japan Mutual Security system. Joseph Nye played a key role in defining the new role of Japan within the context of the U.S. grand strategy in the non-NATO region, which was in the Mutual Security discourse a strange kind of “greater Far East”.
The EASR (East Asian Security Report) published in 1995, provided the basis to a new negotiation on the Mutual Security Treaty, which was concretized in the Hashi-moto-Clinton Joint Declaration of Japan-U.S. Security Cooperation of 1996 April. A new Guideline of the Security Cooperation between Japan and the United States was agreed upon, which identified an active role for Japan in operational operations beside logistic op-erations. The preparation of a new militarized State through a variety of legislative activi-ties characterized this period.
New laws were adopted, often in spite of the opposition of the parliamentarians commit-ted to the “Peace” Constitution. A Law on the Cooperation with the Peace-Keeping Activi-ties of the United Nations was passed already in 1992 to permit the Self Defense Force to send troupes abroad. This new legalization of a role beyond “self defense” to the Self De-fense Force opened the way to the participation of Japan in the War on Terror under the initiative of Bush Jr. This permitted the State of Japan to move from a burden sharing po-sition with the United States, to a military Power sharing.
This trend was started by the new Bush Administration which mobilized experts on Japan like Armitage to design the concrete terms of the new Japan-U.S. security cooperation.. The Armitage Report of 2000 defined the Japan-U.S. alliance as a keystone of the U.S. global strategy in Asia. It recommended the strengthening of this Alliance, requiring Japan to remove its Constitutional obstacle to “collective security”. It also demanded Japan to develop emergency legislations, and to strengthen intelligence cooperation with the United States. The Koizumi Government passed a series of legislation in response to this Report, which included the revision of the Law on Self Defense Forces, the Law on Emergency in Neighboring Areas, the Law on Military Attack Emergency.
The first part of the 21st century became the critical divide between the pacifist State and a new Global Military State, the Third State of modern Japan, after the Meiji with its Em-peror Constitution and the Post Occupation States with its “Peace” Constitution. The War on Terror completed the process started in the 1990s to “sensitize” the Japanese public away from its pacifism. The North Korean “threat” was played up by the return of the kidnapped victims from North Korea. The campaign against criminal foreigners accompanied by a system of cyber-denunciation was launched, and police raids arrested many of the “illegal” migrants. In 2003, three young pacifists who had distributed leaflets to the families of the Self Defense Force soldiers to be sent to Iraq were arrested and became the first “prisoners of conscience” in Japan ever identified by Amnesty International. It is un-der this generalized campaign to face through a combined effort by the military and the police to associate the Japanese citizens to its threat control, that the above-mentioned laws were passed to prepare a revision of the Constitution, which would formalize the Global Militarized State of Japan. The cooperation of Japan with the War efforts of the United States was not a monopoly of the Government. The Japanese public was in general giving a passive support to it, with the exception of an active anti-War minorityxviii. The business world, on its side had one of its sector dedicated to an active cooperation with the United States. This was the sector involved in the IFSEC mentioned above. A joint statement is-sued in January 2003 by this Forum stated unambiguously the need to strengthen Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, to modify the Japanese policy forbidding arms trade, and to develop a clear guideline about the protection of intellectual property rights in the field of military related technologies.
7. A Possible Alternative Scenario
Is there no way for Japan to avoid the course of becoming a militarized State? There is still a pacifist feeling deeply engrained in the minds of the Japanese citizens. The anti Iraq War movement began to mobilize the young generation. Even in the government circles, a new awareness about the danger to go along with the War on Terror is increasing.
There is also a fact which is often forgotten. The Japanese government has adopted, again on the official level, a set of principles completely opposed to the logic of the War of Ter-ror as defined in the Report on the Security Strategy of the United States. These principles are expressed in the Report of the U.N. Commission on Human Security chaired by Ms. Sadako Ogata and Dr. Amartia Sen, which was supported by the Japanese Government.
This Report calls for the elimination of people’s insecurity through the empowerment of the people put in insecurity situations by globalization, in stead of stressing the preemp-tive strike on the terrorists an rogue States by the United States and its allies. The Japanese Government has recognized “human security” as a basic principle, not only of its devel-opment assistance but also of its peace related activities. This is presently done in support of the United States War efforts, by contributing to the peaceful reconstruction of Af-ghanistan and Iraq, two countries demolished by the United States applying its preemptive strike strategy. To apply the principles of human security in support of the War efforts of the United States generating human insecurity around the world is a big contradiction.
Will the Japanese public react to this illogical and unrealistic duplicity is now becoming a major question. If it does, Japan will not become a militarizing State, and seek rather to dissociate itself from the Unipolar hegemon generating human insecurity through its uni-lateral preemptive military and police activities Japan can play a role, both regionally and globally, in promoting human security alliances in the regions devastated by the American military activities. If it fails to do so, Japan will become a subaltern militarized State with a heavy police surveillance system, promoting militarization and police surveillance in the service of the hegemonic War on Terror. Present confusion in Iraq shows that no military power can solve any dispute, international and national.
In fact this is the argument presented by the World Peace Committee of Seven in its declaration linking the Iraq debacle to the Peace Constitution of Japan. It calls upon the occupa-tion troops in Iraq to withdraw from the territory and upon the United Nations to come to help the people of the country. It further calls upon the United Nations and upon all its member States to declare that they will renounce the use of armed force as a means to achieve their State policies, and to stop all wars, including internal wars, signing a new Anti-War Convention stipulating the penalization of all violating parties. It is within this global context that the Committee invites all the member States of the United Nations to recognize the pioneering role of the Peace Constitution of Japan, denying to the State the possession of military force and the right to wage war. This universalistic approach taken already internationally by the Citizen’s Conference on the Hague Peace Appeal may trans-form the exceptionalist pacifism which has prevailed so far, and has facilitated the covert remilitarization of Japan.
To open the Japanese exceptionalist Constitutional pacifism and make it a tool to material-ize human security, by guaranteeing the right to live in peace free of fear and wants is a re-alistic alternative to the neorealist approach which sees that the remilitarization of Japan is the only way to face the present global hegemony which forces all States to cooperate in its War on Terrorism.
The five young Japanese who have been taken hostage by the Iraqi resistance provide a typical example of the new approach to peace and demilitarization which goes along the line of the above mentioned Committee of Seven Declarationxix. Their pacifism is a non-violent version of the Red Army, seeking to establish links of solidarity between the Japanese and the people of Iraq sharing with them their insecurity. Whereas the Red Army wanted to share with the Palestinian their violent resistance, the five hostages wanted to share their fear, wants and insecurity. In their non-violent act of solidarity, security is not assumed to be monopolized by the Japanese, as it is the case with the Self Defense Forces stationed in Samawa, where their security is protected by various military and political means. Providing water to the unprotected Samawa in heavily guarded situations. The young Japanese, unarmed and un protected recognize the fact that there is a common fate between them and the Iraqi people, and among all the vulnerable peoples of the world who suffer intensive insecurity caused by the hegemonic forces of militarization.
This non-violent approach to peace based on the solidarity of vulnerable peoples provides a solid foundation to the State project to demilitarize all the States of the world. This al-ternative project proposes the demilitarization of all the States where the now predominant project to remilitarize Japan wants all the States to compete in their effort to prevail in their militarization. Let us hope that the Third State of Japan will not be a remilitarized State, but a State which contributed to the demilitarization of all the States of the World.
Director, Centre for Asia Pacific Partnership,
Osaka University of Economics and Law
1 Jayadeva Uyangoda ed., Militarising State, Society and Culture in Asia: Critical Per-spective, ARENA, 2005. pp. 209-232.
i On militarization in Japan, the best book in English is the following:
cf. Glenn D. Hook, Militarization and Demilitarization in Contemporary Japan (Nissan In-stitute Routledge Japanese Studies Series), Routledge, 1996.
ii About the new threats, cf. Peter Andreas, Shimshon Bicheler,”From War Fighting to Crime Fighting: Transforing th Americn National Security State”, International Studies Review, Vol. 3, Issue 3 (Fall 2001) pp. 31-52. Also, Kinhide Mushakoji, Ningenn Anzennhoshou Ron Josetsu: Global Faschism ni koushite (Introduction to Human Security Theory: Facing Global Faschism), Kokusai Shoin, 2003. pp. 38-40.
iii We apply here to the Japanese State of the 1990s-2000s this Gramshian concept “subal-tern” in the sense that the ruling class of this State wants to participate in the neoliveral global economy accepting the global standards to be accepted as a subaltern
player in the mega-competition. As a subaltern actor, the Japanese elite, which includes not only transnational corporate interests but also the national industrial and commercial in-terests subcontractors of the transnational capital. As all subaltern agents do, they want to gain from their participation in the neoliberal market, but realize that they are under a constant threat of being eliminated from the global market by transnational players. This is why the subaltern neoliberal elite of Japan is divided between those who want to play fully the neoliberal game like Prime Minister Koizumi, while other seeks to preserve national and local control of the economy against neoliberal pressures to liberalize totally the Japanese economy. This economic subaltern role of Japan reinforces its political subaltern attitude toward the global hegemon, the United States. As a btoader analysis of the Japaneseruling elite and its decay. Cf. Harold R. Kerko, John A. McKinstry. Who Rules Japan: the inner circles of economic and political power, Praeger, 1995.
iv On re-militarization, cf. Hideki Uemura, Saigunbi to 55-nen-Taisei (Re-militarization and the 1955 regime) Mokutaku Sha, 1995.
v On the Constitutional debate, cf. Glenn D. Hook, Gavan McCormack, Japan’s Contested Constitution: Documents and Amalysis, Routledge, 2001.
vi The Forum has founded the Centre for Preventive Diplomasy which serves as think tank for the participation of Japan in peace-keeping activities preparing for an active interna-tional role of the Japanese Self Defense Forces which was traditionally supposed to play only a self defense role protecting Japan within its territorial boundaries.
vii For more detailed information about this historical development, cf.
viii Article 10, 1st Para.
ix Article 5, 1st Para.
x Article 6, 1st Para.
xi The 26 April 2004 Appeal of the Japanese Committee of Seven for World Peace which is a committee composed by seven Japanese nuclear scientists and other intellectuals refers to the Japanese Constitution in the following paragfraphes:” We call upon the United Nations and upon all its member States to declare that they will renounce the use of armed force as a means to achieve their State policies, and to stop all wars, including internal wars, signing a new Anti-War Convention stipulating the penalization of all violating parties.(..)The Con-stitution of Japan denies to the State the possession of military force and the right to wage war. Costa Rica forbids itself to maintain a standing army. The pioneering role of these countries in line with the Kellog-Briand Pact must be recognized. We call upon all the States of the world to follow their example, as was declared by the Citizen’s Conference on the Hague Peace Appeal.
xii On the 1955 regime, cf. Hideki Uemura, op. cit.
xiii As an inside view on the split of the student movement Zengakuren cf. Masayuki Takagi, Zengakuren to Zenkyoto (The Student Union Zengakuren and the United Front Zenkyoto). On the post 1970 civil society intellectual climate, a dialogue between intellectuals from different generations, pre and post 1970s is of interest. Cf. Kiyoshi Kazai, Hironori Kazuma, Doubutsu-ka suru Sekai no Nakade: zenkyoutou ikou no nihonn, Post-Modern ikou no Hi-hyou (The Animalization of the Society: The Post United Front Japan and the Post Modern Critique), Shuei-Sha, 2003.
xiv About Shigenobu and her daughter, Mei Shigenobu, The following auto-biography of
Mai Shigenobu gives a good insightin their dedication to the cause of the Palestinians. Cf. Mei Shigenobu, Himitsu: Palestina kara Sakura no Kuni he, Haha to Watakushi no 28 Nen (The Secret: From Palestine to the Country of Cherry Blossoms, My Mother’s and My 28 Years Journey), Kodan Sha, 2002.
xv Cf. Vera Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan: citizenship. Embodiment and sexuality, Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 217-219.
xvi On the clientelist nature of the Japanese society, cf. S.N.Eisenstadt, L. Roniger, Japanese Civilization: a Comparative View, Chicago, 1996.
xvii On the Comfort Women military sexual; slavery, cf. Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II, Columbia University Press, 2000. Also, “Engendering the Japanese ‘Double Standard’ Patriarchal Democracy: The Case of the ‘Comfort Women’ and Military Sexual Slavery”, Rita Mae Kelly, Jane H. Bayes, Mary E. Hawkersworth, Brigitte Young eds., Gender, Globalization and Democratization, Rowman & Lettlefield, 2001, pp.205-222.
xviii See the documents inGlwnn D. Hook, Gavan McCormack, op. cit.
xix See Note XI.The text cited there is preceded by the following paragraph on the Iraq situation. “The present confusion in Iraq shows that no military power can solve any dispute, international and national. We call upon all foreign occupation troops in Iraq to withdraw from the territory and upon the United Nations to come to help the people of the country.”