Over the past few weeks, Japan has been the scene of massive protests taking place all across the country. The impetus for the protests is a new policy being promoted by the Japanese government that would effectively allow for the use of Japan’s military abroad and in the service of what many would describe as imperialist agendas.
The new “security bills” being promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are at the heart of the recent protests due to the fact that many Japanese see their ultimate passage as a major step toward the return of an imperialist Japan and a country that will soon be using its military in conflicts abroad.
The bills would allow for the use of the Japanese military outside of its national borders in order to “protect Japan’s national interests,” an extremely broad term that may allow for aggressive military actions and imperialism. It may very well allow the military to act as a willing participant in the imperialism of other nations as well, most notably the United States. Indeed, Americans should know well how allowing terms like “protecting national interests” can be used to justify wars of aggression, the slaughter of innocent people abroad, and the destruction of sovereign nations across the globe.
Japan’s Constitution, as codified after the Japanese defeat in World War 2, specifies that its army can only operate for the purposes of self-defense. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of Japanese Constitutional scholars agree that the new laws are unconstitutional. Article 9, which provides much of the basis of the prohibition on aggressive military force reads, “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”
Still, the bills are almost certainly going to pass through the Japanese government. The Japanese people are rightly concerned that the passage of the bills will cause a situation in which Japan will become engaged in its own imperial aims in Asia and abroad, reminding them, particularly the elderly, of a disastrous ending to imperialist adventures decades ago. The Japanese are also concerned that Japan will become a tool of the United States against China or against other Asian nations like North Korea.
A lot of Japanese are afraid that if the bills are passed, Japan would be drawn into regional and global armed conflicts that serve the narrow interests of elites at home and in the United States who want Japan to play a more direct and decisive role in containing China. It follows from this that Japan’s relations with China could deteriorate further. North Korea could become even more hostile towards Japan. Ties with South Korea could take a turn for the worse. Japan could find itself adopting military postures on behalf of one party or the other in unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea. In a nutshell, Japan’s interaction with the rest of Asia would be fraught with new challenges expressed through friction and tension.
This is why ASEAN citizens and other Asians should be deeply concerned about what is happening now in Japan. If Japan seeks a more militaristically oriented role, it would have an adverse impact upon present and future generations in the continent.
It appears that the overwhelming majority of the politically astute Japanese public opposes the new bills. Constitutional scholars, students, some celebrities, the elderly, and average citizens are clearly concerned about the direction in which Japan is moving.
As quoted by the Los Angeles Times, the Japanese protesters are concerned with the potential for war in the near future, the Japanese economy, and the fear of turning into the United States.
“When Abe was running for election, there wasn’t a word about security legislation. All we heard was ‘Abenomics, Abenomics,'” Yokoi, 71, a retiree from Tokyo’s suburbs, said as she stood in front of the legislature Monday evening. “Then, as soon as he’s elected … he’s … putting the ‘war bills’ out there. That’s just sneaky and underhanded. That’s not democracy.”
Yokoi is hardly alone. Since June, tens of thousands of demonstrators have repeatedly surrounded Japan’s parliament, or Diet, and gathered in cities across the nation to express their discontent with the proposed security legislation.
Signs have read: “Abandon the war bill!” and “We won’t be fooled again. We won’t go to war again.” Organizers claimed 45,000 showed up at the Diet on Monday evening, although there was no independent confirmation of that figure.
Mothers Against War, a small group founded in July, has collected nearly 20,000 signatures protesting the bills. Its members have taken to holding up signs at rallies saying: “I won’t let [anyone] kill anyone’s children.”
Perhaps one of the most prescient statements was made by protester, Miki Tsukamoto, a working mother with a 4-year-old boy. “Everyone’s life is important. I think members of the Self-Defense Forces will quit. Maybe the only way to get troops will be a draft,” she said. “And if not by force, there will be a sort of economic draft in which the less fortunate are lured by promise of economic rewards for service. We’re becoming like America. That’s frightening.”
With the question of the new “security bills” and the interpretation of Japan’s Constitutional constraints on the use of the military being debated in the media, it is important to point out that the Japanese Constitution (in regards to the constraints on the military) contains constraints that should be in place in every country in the world. Rather than attempting to amend the Constitution or “re-interpret” it in a way that allows for greater use of that military, Japan should be attempting to export the Constitutional constraints to other nations.
That a national military should only be used in self-defense should go without saying. This is, after all, the sole purpose of a military – to protect and defend the nation to which it belongs from outside forces seeking to do it harm, not to rape and pillage and fight wars of domination, aggression, and profit.
Instead of eliminating constraints on militaries – not only in Japan but across the world – a much more sensible approach would be for every nation to adopt a similar constraint on their own militaries. Given the sentiment of the Japanese people, Abe would be wise to back off of his ridiculous imperialist notions. Given the history of Japan (which the US played a major role in shaping) and the potential for America to repeat it in a different role this time around, the United States would be well advised to consider placing restraints on the use of its own military.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.