Monday, February 28, 2005


Turn Right to Go East?

There have been some troubling signs in the Orient lately, notably in Japan, America’s outpost in the East. Most notably, there is a major new drive to write a new constitution.

Of special interest for his involvement in this effort is right-wing former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, who was on good terms with Ronald Reagan, and once described Japan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” a remark that made him into a lightning rod for criticism.

A drafting committee of the dominant Liberal Democratic Party (which, despite its name, is actually quite conservative) has come up with some pretty disturbing ideas that would curb basic freedoms and steer Japan on to the same rightward course as the US. For example, it would be possible to ban the publication of certain books that are “harmful to young people.” While this supposedly refers to pornography, in reality nearly any book could be termed “harmful to young people,” and therefore banned. Other proposals are for restrictions on the freedom of association if an association is deemed a grave danger to the state or social order, bringing Shinto under state purview, and obligating citizens to serve their country even if it means sacrificing their individual freedoms. There are ideas here that would make Bush salivate.

Also on the table is a proposal to make Japan’s military force legal. Article 9 of the current constitution, which was drafted by the US occupation, specifically forbids Japan from having a military force, making its “Self-Defense Forces” patently unconstitutional, and seriously hampering overseas activity by the Japanese military, which is already the world’s second-best-equipped.

But this might not be so easy, given the mixed feelings of many Japanese toward having a military force. Nevertheless, the Japanese populace might be “softened up” and made more amenable to such a constitutional provision through various stratagems such the recent “2+2” talks between Japan and the US, a new hard-line stance by Japan on the Takeshima issue, a hard line against North Korea, making a big deal out of the discovery of a Chinese submarine in Japanese waters (peculiar, because Chinese submarines are not hard for Japan’s navy to discover), and generally whipping up hysteria over the “Chinese threat.”

You can see what’s happening. It’s the old boogeyman trick. Strain relations with nearby countries, jack up the fear level, and the people will readily vote to legalize the military. Further, a legal and beefed-up Japanese military would allow the US to move many, or maybe even all, of its troops out of Japan and use them for attacking Middle Eastern countries.

Turn right to go east... or west.

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