Peace: Required Reading, Summer '10

Here are quotes and links to some very interesting articles that have appeared over the past few weeks, related to peace, Article 9, and the debates about the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Terashima Jitsuro, "The US-Japan Alliance Must Evolve: The Futenma Flip-Flop, the Hatoyama Failure and the Future" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, August 20, 2010)

The Futenma flip-flop exposed the reality that Japan does not confront problems by considering their essential character. It confirmed, first of all, that there is no place in Japan outside of Okinawa that will agree to host an American base. At the end of May, Hatoyama requested the members of the National Governors Association to host a replacement base for Futenma, but not a single prefecture volunteered. The fact is that a base is a problem that no one wants nearby. At the same time, the pretense that the bases ensure the security of Japan and Asia goes unquestioned, and many Japanese are swayed by the argument that the continued presence of the bases is unavoidable, given the threat from China and North Korea. In short, one must acknowledge that Japan exists as a country by the warped reasoning that "We don't mind the bases as long as they are in Okinawa."

I'd like to touch here upon the Japanese media, which by all rights should provide the citizens with some perspective on the issue. The waffling of the nation on the Futenma problem is shared by the Japanese media. I went back and read newspaper commentaries on foreign policy disputes in the past decades, including the San Francisco Peace Conference, the Bandung Conference, and the 1960 revision of the Security Treaty. The deterioration of the intellectual quality of the writing is undeniable. One can only conclude that journalists have abandoned the pursuit of the essence of problems.

He also notes:

Now is not the time for self-satisfied parroting of the "favorable US-Japan relationship," premised on the US military bases as they are today. What we need to do is achieve stability in East Asia while reducing the US bases, making the US-Japan alliance evolve into something truly deserving of trust.
As for Article 9, David Rothauser, a film producer, has penned an interesting piece that has appeared in CSM and Tokyo Progressive, titled "Article Nine, America’s Gift to Japan"

By embracing [the Peace Constitution] in 1950 and saying, "No," to American coercion, Japan took the first step in becoming a world leader for peace. Now Japan has a golden opportunity to inspire other nations to embrace the idea of peace as an organizing principle where non-violence and peace become one and the same. Where the dynamics of non-violence and peace become ingrained in every person's daily activities, where the spirit of Wa becomes the dominant force in every society. Japan had the power to say, "No," in 1950. Now she has the power to say, "Yes!" to independence from the illusion of American security. To say, "Yes!" to the abolition of nuclear weapons. To say, "Yes!" to Article Nine and the Peace Constitution. By so doing Japan will become a beacon of hope to the world. Her beacon will unite instead of divide.

May we reflect a moment to the time (1945) when weapons of mass destruction were first introduced. Atomic warfare changed the face of war forever. Today nations having nuclear weapons possess the capability of igniting a nuclear holocaust that threatens all life on the planet. Conventional weapons are obsolete. The enemy is as much the tiger behind the gates as the tiger at the gates.
But he also notes:

It is not Japan alone who needs Article Nine. It is the world. It is here that Japan may play a major role. By keeping Article Nine in her Constitution she will have displayed the strength, vision and courage that America currently lacks. Japan's fortitude will serve as an impetus for America to live up to its own ideals. To lead in this fashion will take immense courage, a unique vision for the future of humankind and the will to break the chains of war as a means to an end.
Turn to Ten Thousand Things from Kyoto for a post about the Chamorro scholar, writer, and visual artist Michael Lujan Bevacqua, who visited the 2010 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (also found on www.guamology.com):

This Wednesday my column will be about my recent trip to Japan where I attended the 2010 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, and gave many speeches in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on current events in Guam, especially surrounding the US military buildups here. While at this conference I got to hear so many stories from so many different countries, especially those from places which have been negatively affected by the use, storage or testing of nulcear weapons. My column tells the story of Paul Ahpoy, an elderly man from Fiji who was a sailor in the British Navy, who along with hundreds of other sailors, witnessed numerous nuclear tests in Kiribati. Like all other communities damaged by nuclear weapons, Paul and other veterans were beset by numerous invisible and unknown diseases, which would riddle their body with cancer, make them sterile, and even be passed down to their children. (...)

These tests were not conducted on the mall in Washington D.C., in Piccadilly Square in London or Les Champs Elysees in Paris. They were conducted in faraway, isolated islands where even if things went horribly wrong, who would really be affected? A few thousand people which as Henry Kissinger noted, no one gives a damn about anyways? Some sea turtles and some coral and coconut trees? In other words, these were places which matter precisely because they do not matter. The lesson here is that while geography is strategically important in today’s globalized world, so is smallness and invisibility.

While Paul was giving his speech, I had a copy of his prepared remarks in front of me. After remembering those words about the great service for humanity those tests meant, he choked up and he quickly ended his speech. I looked down at the text to see what he had left to say. It was just a single sentence, but perhaps the most important one considering his tragic tale. The last line of his speech was: “I now thank you all for sharing with me and hope that our combined efforts to remove forever all nuclear weapons from our planet becomes a reality, so our children may live in peace.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was some of what has moved me this summer during very hot and humid days, here in Japan. But to end this post, I share with you Noodles (top) by Gwen Muranaka and Zero Gravity by Roger Dahl at The Japan Times, for a little bit of laughter at the end of the day:


Comments

Hi Martin,

Thanks for this. Just a comment about Article 9. Scholars dispute its origination.

Peace Studies and Article 9 Scholar Klaus Schlictman found archival materials at the Shidehara Peace Library (Shidehara Heiwa Bunko) leading him to conclude that Shidehara was the one who suggested the Peace Clause, not the Americans, as commonly thought. Klaus, an expert in the history of pacifist thought, is the author of "Japan in the World: Shidehara Kijuro: Pacifism and the Abolition of War."

From my interview with Klaus in the KJ Article 9 issue, on Shidehara's background and how it was influenced by the Hague Peace Conferences.

"More than 100 years ago at the Hague Peace Conferences, it was already understood that to disarm, one needs to ensure peace and justice by creating an international legal system...

"At the time of the second peace conference, he was chief liaison in the Foreign Min. in permanent contact with the Japanese delegation at The Hague...

"As Foreign Minister between 1924 and 1931, Shidehara became known for his conciliatory and anti-militaristic policies. He was also one of the most prominent Japanese to extend peace feelers after 1937, aiming to end the war with China, and to avert war with the U.S...

"After the war, Prime Minister Shidehara conceived the idea of a war-abolishing provision which should be included in the Japanese Constitution..."
Martin J Frid said…
That's an excellent point. The article could have been called "Japan's gift to America" since that is actually what Rothauser proposes.

As you note, Shidehara is well known for this, and I don't think "scholars" dispute the origin of Article 9.
Hi Martin,

Some (and most English-language) scholars do say the Occupation (MacArthur) proposed Article 9. So do people who helped framed the new constitution, including Beate Sirota.

Klaus' response: Shidehara, who proposed it, and MacArthur, who allowed it, both deserve credit for making Article 9 happen.

The U.S. Occupation before "Reverse Course" Cold Warriors took charge was characterized by the best of U.S. New Deal idealism. It was a tragedy for Japanese democracy and the spirit of Article 9 that the Cold Warriors undid so much of the original Occupation's good work by putting former war criminals back in office to recreate a postwar repressive, authoritarian, corrupt regime under U.S. hegemony. Ever since, subsequent administrations have tried to undo and/or undermine the spirit and letter of Article 9.

Ultimately, Article 9 is a gift of the Japanese people to themselves and the world. Citizen support through decades is what has kept it alive in letter, if less in spirit, and is what has restrained the unfettered remilitarization of Japan under U.S. direction.

The best writing on the undermining and attacks on Article 9 is Gavan MacCormack's "Client State: Japan in the U.S. Embrace."

Thanks for the great post. We'll dialogue more from our site.
Martin J Frid said…
Excellent points, you are right that there has been an amazing level of grassroot support for Article 9 in Japan, and that has kept it alive as you say.
nobleshyld said…
I am inclined to believe that Shidehara was a mere puppet of U.S. The only reason Shidehara could become Prime Minister is because he supported pacifism and was liberal, which would work favorably to US in implementing Japanese constitution.

Note that right after Shidehara became prime minister, strongly recommended by MacArthur, Japanese government created the well known Matsumoto Committee. And it was Shidehara who chose Matsumoto as the head of that committee. hmmmm...

Note that he wasn't very popular as a prime minister in Japan, which also infers that his ideal is not the norm of Japan's desire.

Popular posts from this blog

マーティンの鵜の目鷹の目 -世界の消費者運動の旅から

TPP Documents Leaked, Huffington Post, Activists Huff

Salvador Dali, Hiroshima and Okinawa