ANPO At 50: Security At Any Cost?

Over at Ten Thousand Things, blogger Kimberly Hughes writes about a symposium she attended recently. The speakers included Kato Tokiko, Ueno Chizuko, Hosaka Masayasu, Oguma Eiji, Linda Hoaglund with details of the struggle against ANPO, the Japanese abbreviation for the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. This agreement was signed 50 years ago after a long and bitter fight, not just between the political parties* but also on the streets of Tokyo and elsewhere. Today, this treaty is like the elephant in the room, that noone likes but noone seems to like to mention:
“For many people in Japan, the presence of U.S. military bases had been all but completely forgotten about in recent decades—until the issue became dragged out of the shadows by the Futenma base conflict,” explained Oguma, a social historian. “And since the United States has not bothered to provide any explanation whatsoever about what the benefits of this air base might provide, it is only too obvious that this treaty is based upon a completely unequal relationship between the two countries.”

Well-known sociologist, professor and feminist scholar Ueno Chizuko, who moderated the discussion, noted that the Futenma issue has been presented by the media with no accompanying historical context such as the resistance against the ANPO treaty.

The evening finished with brief and yet poignant remarks from famous singer and actor Kato Tokiko, who was herself a student at the University of Tokyo in the late 1960s. Kato has been deeply involved with peace and ecology movements together with her late husband Fujimoto Toshio, a student movement leader who was jailed in the early 1970s and later founded the Daichi o mamoru kai (Association to Preserve the Earth).

“I was sixteen years old when the ANPO protest occurred, and I remember feeling a fierce sense of despair that the revolution we were fighting for did not end up happening,” she told the audience. “We had a vision for a different kind of world, and so the way that events played out—including the death of Michiko Kamba—were completely shocking.”

Meanwhile, over at Consumers Union of Japan, participants at the 37th general meeting on June 6, 2010 called for Japan to "annul and scrap" ANPO:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the U.S. We take this opportunity to request that the Japanese government should annul and scrap the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement. The reason is that military bases are no longer necessary anywhere. We thus resolve to make the best use of Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution, and build true peace with all the people in the world, to remove and dismantle the military bases.
It will be very interesting to see how this debate continues...

*There is of course a lot more to say about how totally un-democratic the treaty was forced through the parliament here. Shin Kanemaru, who was a young LDP bully at the time, had to use all his strength to physically lift up the Speaker of the House and carry him through the crowd of angry lawmakers, so he could reach the microphone and declare the session open. The other parties had tried to block the session, and were either outside the (locked) doors or in some cases inside trying to stop all of this. A later vote the same year never happened and the treaty came into force "by default" - and of course prime minister Kishi just resigned shortly after that, taking no responsibility at all. It is 50 years ago, but this is the legal basis of American bases and the Self Defence Forces - today.

Read more about Nobusuke Kishi in a January, 1960 article from Time Magazine
Read more about Shin Kanemaru in the 1996 obituary from New York Times

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