Foreign Policy magazine: The Japanese military is emerging from decades of pacifism. But do the country’s political leaders have the vision and the will to make the country strong again?
Read Michael Auslin’s Foreign Policy briefing book, “Japan Awakens,” and then watch Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire, an excellent PBS three-part series, which is available for download on iTunes. My Tokyo friend, Deborah DeSnoo, is executive producer and co-writer of the award-winning program. What a talented lady and how fortunate I am to know her.
Do we really want a hard power Japan, much less a nuclear Japan? Japan was a strong military power in history, not in present. The East Asian region could never tolerate a rearmed Japan. And remember, one can arm himself with ideas as much as weapons. Japan should marshal its resources toward becoming a regional powerhouse in renewable energies. I’m not naive enough to believe it’s going to go nuclear-free overnight, but for the long haul it needs to develop its nation-state reputation, pride, and honor through high-tech, soft-touch means.
I strongly believe that we should not strengthen our military force in Japan. It is true that we often fall behind when other countries need help from other countries’ military, such as the case of anti-piracy mission in Africa, but I know that there is a field that Japan can contribute to. We do not need to use force to contribute to the world. For example, we are offering a lot of ODA. Moreover, we can start to help build infrastructure in developing countries, if possible. Anyway, I believe that we should not strengthen hard power in Japan since we are the only modern developed country that does not have military. We need to find a way to seek world peace without having any military forces.
The only image I have of the Japanese government is the prime ministers and politicians always disputing with each other. I don’t understand why they have to criticize each other and try to stand above each other, when there are many other problems to be solved, like 3/11. What they should be doing is to support each other and make Japan a better country. Right now they should be solving the problems resulting from the 3/11 earthquake.
Related to the hard power, I would like to explain that Japan is known as a peaceful and high quality of safeness country in the world, for it has the Article 9, which states not to have military force forever. Some people said that although Japan has the law, it possesses hard power, the Japan Self-Defense Forces. In my opinion, the Japan Self-Defense Forces are necessary for Japan mainly because it is irreplaceable in an emergency like 3.11.
In my opinion, it is not necessary to make Japan a hard power country, much less a nuclear country. Indeed, we must make Japan a stronger country. However, after 3/11, it is not necessary to threaten the citizens with nuclear weapons now. Yesterday, I saw an article about the world’s nuclear weapons. There are 19,000 weapons out there now, and 10,000 are possessed by Russia. Japan has been out of the business of nuclear weapons since the Hiroshima attack. We shall keep it that way. Japan’s awakening doesn’t have to do with military power. More than that, we must focus on how to develop the foreign diplomacy strategy of Japan and as the post above has already mentioned, the nation-state reputation has to get better or else Japan’s democracy policy will fade away and the nation will collapse with no citizens voting for the government.
Whether the Japanese government is willing to “awaken” in military terms or in any hard power way, I also believe that there are other things that not only governors but also citizens have to be aware of and should focus on. The current quarreling situation between Prime Minister Noda and former Chief Secretary Ozawa to raise consumption taxes was criticized by commentators and newscasters on a Sunday morning television program. It was reported that both men are playing roles in a “theatrical play” to seek attention to themselves. Mr. Noda’s approval rating has decreased for he hasn’t done anything to change Japan while Mr. Ozawa is about to lose more power (still losing supporters) due to criminal suits related to him.
What I believe they REALLY need to do is focus on uniting Japan as one to restore the disaster-stricken areas and reconstruct the nuclear power plants with less danger as well as the system of maintaining nuclear power plants (Northeast Japan). The civilians are living with only enough supplies to live for the day and their standard of living is still not restored completely yet. Some are still living in temporary houses, while some still are not employed. If we leave the victims of the tragedy of 3/11 unattended and left on their own, this will lead to the decrease in nation-state reputation, pride, and honor.