Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Japanese Re-Armament: Oh God, Not Good.

When you spend the amount of time reading international relations literature that I do, you get this irksome feeling that the world is always on the brink of an explosive and cataclysmic drama that is already in the works and that every day the big dude in the sky flips a coin to see if we live or die. Conservative, liberal and leftist alike agree that nuclear weapons are more than important in this world, and that there are multiple scenarios for omnicide. For example: There is a Russian room called the Dead Hand that, if there is a seismic disturbance in Moscow, will activate every Russian nuclear warhead.

Back in debate, possibly the single best scenario for nuclear was "Jap Re-Arm", or the scenario in which Japan fully remilitarizes. Look up Japanese re-armament as it applies to high school and college debate and I think you'll be surprised at what you pull up. There's a good reason, or rather, many good reasons.

Given this context, one can imagine why, upon reading this CNN article, I shook my head and said "We're all dead."

archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/east/10/18/ret.japan.bill/ has a October 18, 01 article which begins, '"TOKYO, Japan -- Japan's Lower House has passed a bill allowing its troops to give logistical support to America and its allies in overseas military operations for the first time since World War II. "

Why is Japanese re-armament so dangerous? The article hints at the possibilities: "Analysts warn, however, that any move by Japan to boost its military role could stir controversy in Asia because of the country's past imperialism.
In recent days Koizumi has traveled to South Korea and to China to assure Asian neighbors that the new legislation would not pave the way for Japanese military resurgence.
Japanese leaders are also keen to avoid a rerun of Japan's 1991 diplomatic embarrassment when it came under fire from much of the world community for declining to commit even a token force to the Gulf War."

(I'd like to point out that the "world community" here is defined in the typical CNN/FOX style as "the US and its allies", but I digress). There's a background here.

Gaijin pigs like most Americans typically don't know much about inter-Asian racism, and it's as nasty as its occidental brother. The Vietnamese hate the Chinese, the Indians hate the Pakistanis, the Chinese hate the Japanese, and everyone hates the Koreans. Remember that the history here is far more drastic and stable than the European history, particularly in China, whose glory days are not too far behind it (and probably not too far ahead, either). The Japanese are viewed as brash, arrogant, crude upstarts who stole all the good culture from everywhere else. The image isn't made any better by the fact that it's partly true: Much of Japanese culture was at first pilfered directly from the Chinese (and they've also shown a propensity to swallow American concepts, like 'zero' - this isn't to say that Japanese culture is somehow deficient, of course). Those of you who have watched Kill Bill 2 may remember the scene where Pei Mei says "Japanese pig-heads!"

Moreover, recent Japanese history gives anybody pause. They went from a pre-industrial nation to a superpower in record time, in the process humbling the Russians in the early 1900s in what can only be described as a debacle. (This is a key fact to remember for those who argue that Russia devolved throughout the Cold War period: whatever you think of totalitarian "Communism", it certainly accomplished impressive R&D and growth rates). Japan then moved on to essentially write the book on modern war crimes in World War II, carving out an empire in a few years to rival the best conquerors in history's entire careers. The Germans were monsters, no doubt, but aside from their treatment of homosexuals, Jews, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, the mentally retarded and the crippled, their POW and civilian treatment was fairly humane (by war-time standards). The Japanese, on the other hand, mercilessly slaughtered and raped their way through their empire; some of you may have read part of The Rape of Nanking (I have, and it's stomach-churning).

Even with a constitution that explicitly prevents re-armament, Japan's "security force" is impressive and wouldn't require substantial change to make an offensive-capable army. According to the Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/6135281.htm?1c), "Japan's Constitution, written by the U.S. occupation authority in 1946, emphatically renounces not only war, but also military muscle. Article 9 goes so far as to say that Japan will not use ``the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.'' And to that end, it states, ``land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.'' Yet the US is pressuring Japan to reciprocate for the long US military protection (partially due to geopolitical pressure as Japan widens as an economic force).

This is plain idiocy. Japan has no threats that a conventional army is prepared to handle. Even if it did, the best way of making those threats come to fruition would be to develop an army. To the North Koreans and the Chinese, perception, form and ceremony are as important as reality (even more so than the standard international relations world of murky perceptions and anticipations), and a Japanese full-scale re-armament would be considered an affront.

All over the world, countries are proliferating their terror networks, WMD capacity and conventional deterrents in response to the "rogue superpower". Russia is increasingly moving to first-alert posture, which causes anyone familiar with the decrepit Russian military no small amount of trepidation; North Korea, India, Pakistan, and other nuclear or near-nuclear states are coming closely along; and the US is increasingly digging itself a hole with mini-nuclear weapons that make nuclear war thinkable and with widening what is known as the "commitment trap" (the concept that, if we promise to use nuclear weapons against CBW attack or similar, we may eventually have to fulfill that promise or lose face and deterrent capacity). The last thing the world needs is a re-armed Japan.


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