Libmonster ID: U.S.-1401
Author(s) of the publication: A. KOSHKIN

In No. 10 last year, our journal published an article by Candidate of Historical Sciences N. Anisimtsev "Japan. Is the Referendum Law a step towards revising the Constitution?", in which the author analyzes in detail the main provisions of the law and the possible consequences of its implementation.

Judging by the responses received by the editorial board, the problems raised by N. ANISIMTSEV are of interest to many of our readers, and not only specialists in the Far East. In this regard, we decided to continue the exchange of views on this issue.


Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of the Eastern University

Last May marked the 60th anniversary of the entry into force of the Constitution of Japan. There is no doubt that this fundamental document had a serious impact on the post-war economic and political development of the Japanese state. Proclaimed as one of the most important principles, the rejection of the possession of expensive armed forces made it possible to concentrate the country's resources on the development of peaceful sectors of the economy, which largely ensured the country's unprecedented high GDP growth in the 60s, bringing Japan to the level of one of the world's leading economic powers.

The Constitution paved the way for the active participation of broad segments of the population in the movement for the peaceful, democratic development of their country. Largely due to the war-averse constitution, the country's prestige abroad steadily increased, and the Japanese people were respected in the world for their consistent struggle against nuclear weapons and the policy of the arms race. For many peoples of the world, the Constitution of Japan has become a model, an example to follow. It is no coincidence that during the drafting of the Pan-European Constitution, proposals were made to introduce similar anti-war provisions to the Japanese ones.

However, as neoconservative tendencies intensified in the country, the desire of the country's top leadership to abandon the pacifist articles of the constitution was clearly marked. This is precisely the goal of the draft law on holding a referendum on the Constitution adopted in May 2007. It was initiated by the Liberal Democratic Party, which put forward a number of specific proposals to amend its fundamental articles.

At the same time, steps are being taken to raise the status of the current "self-defense forces". Thus, at the end of December 2006, a bill on the transformation of the National Defense Administration into the Ministry of Defense was approved by a majority of deputies of the lower and upper chambers of the Japanese Parliament. The event, frankly, is extraordinary, because we are not talking about a formal change of signage, but in fact about giving the armed forces the character of a full-fledged attribute of the state. The innovation contradicts the constitutional provision that " land, sea and air forces, as well as other means of war, will never be created again. The right of a State to wage war is not recognized."

The country's leadership does not hide the fact that it considers these provisions outdated. At a ceremony on January 9, 2007 to transform the Defense Department into a ministry, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe * said that the adoption of the law on upgrading the status of the military department is "the first big step" towards creating the foundations for "moving away from post-war structures" and building a new Japanese state.

For decades, the United States has sought to control Japan's military buildup by stimulating primarily those efforts that served the interests of Washington's military-political strategy in the Far East. The Americans were not interested in the realization of the Japanese right-wing idea of bringing the political and military power of their country in line with its economic potential.

Nevertheless, over the past half-century, the modestly named "self-defense forces" of the Japanese army, aviation and navy in terms of saturation with modern types of military equipment have approached the armed forces of NATO countries, and in some respects have reached the American level. And this is not surprising - after all, in terms of military spending, Japan has long firmly held the second place in the world, second only to the United States. According to various estimates, the Japanese government annually allocates from 40 to 50 billion dollars for the maintenance and equipment of the 250,000-strong armed forces formed on a contract basis, and therefore truly selected.

Some experts believe that the ongoing adjustment of Japan's "national defense strategy" is the result of a resurgence of militant nationalism that is frightening other countries, including the United States. However, in reality, we are dealing with a coincidence of interests of the nationalist wing of Japan and the American neoconservative circles. It is obvious that Washington has decided to abandon the previous course of curbing Japanese ambitions in the field of military buildup. As events show, the United States has already become a global powerhouse since the early 1990s.

* In July 2007, the ruling coalition lost elections to the upper house of Parliament, after which Shinzo Abe was forced to resign.

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re-evaluate its strategy for its Far Eastern ally, seeking to connect it directly to its war machine.

In order not to traumatize the population with a sharp change in military policy, the Japanese government launched a "siege" of the country's public opinion in order to convince the Japanese that Japan, as a UN member state, is almost obliged to participate in peacekeeping operations abroad with its armed forces. And it succeeded - despite the protests of the country's opposition forces and the passivity of the majority of the population, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, bypassing the constitution, achieved the adoption in 1992 by the parliament of a special bill allowing sending contingents of the Japanese armed forces outside Japan under the banner of "cooperation with the UN". Then, in April 1996, the Japanese-American Joint Declaration on Security was signed, which expanded the interaction of the armies and fleets of the two countries to the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Since then, Japanese military personnel began to appear under the national flag "Hino Maru" in various parts of the world - in Mozambique, Zaire, Kampuchea, East Timor. True, being part of the UN troops, Japanese soldiers performed mainly auxiliary tasks, not taking direct part in combat operations. This was necessary in order to demonstrate to the Japanese people not so much the military as the humanitarian goals of the presence of the "self-defense forces" abroad. In the same case, when the Americans needed "cannon fodder", the Japanese government preferred to buy off with money. This was the case during the US Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait. Then, for its non-participation in the war, Tokyo had to pay out $ 13 billion from the Japanese treasury. However, in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, this issue has not passed - despite the protests of the majority of the Japanese people, the Japanese government, under strong pressure from overseas, had to send its army and navy contingents to these "hot spots" to help the Americans.

In Washington, apparently, they decided that the period of "getting used" to Japanese participation in wars abroad should be over. Faced with the unwillingness of European NATO allies to participate in their adventures without a murmur, the Americans are turning their attention to the still obedient Japan. In our opinion, this circumstance can explain the consent of the US administration to the planned such drastic changes in Tokyo's military policy. Only a person ignorant of the geopolitical aspects of US-Japanese relations can believe that the broad propaganda campaign launched in Japan in favor of revising the peaceful articles of the constitution was started almost in spite of the United States by some supporters of the "Yamato Samurai empire"who are nostalgic for their former military power. The go-ahead for this campaign was undoubtedly given from Washington. It is obvious that the "peace constitution" adopted in 1947 on the instructions of the American occupation command has now ceased to suit the United States and has become an obstacle to Japan's full involvement in their global military strategy.

The arrival of Shinzo Abe, known for his nationalist rhetoric, as Prime Minister of Japan in September 2006 was very useful for the American administration. Using the "North Korean threat" as an excuse, his government openly announced a program aimed at forming a self-sufficient armed forces, legislating the right of the Japanese army and navy to participate jointly with the United States in military operations anywhere in the world, and creating a state intelligence agency like the CIA.

It is true that ordinary Japanese people are seriously concerned about North Korean missile launches over their territory and the testing of nuclear devices in close proximity to their homes, and I have personally experienced similar sentiments when visiting Japan. However, sane residents of the Japanese Islands also understand the danger of the tit-for-tat policy, oppose excessive whipping up of panic moods, and call for achieving a nuclear-free status on the Korean Peninsula through mutually acceptable compromises and agreements.

Not all Japanese people are ready to approve the idea of abolishing the "peaceful articles" of the current constitution. According to public opinion polls, only 33% agree with this today, while almost half of the country's population-49% - want to continue living under the Basic Law that rejects war. During a series of mass events held in Japan over the past year, opposition parties, academics, lawyers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations announced their intention to oppose plans to constitutionally legalize the existence of armed forces in the country and the right to use them in armed conflicts.

Of course, it is up to the Japanese themselves to decide which way the future policy of the Japanese state will develop, whether the country will abandon the peaceful provisions of its constitution. Any advice is inappropriate here. However, in our view, it is not military buildup, gaining the status of a nuclear power and rapprochement with NATO, but comprehensive rapprochement with the neighboring countries in East Asia, and active participation in solving difficult problems in this region that can help Japan achieve its goal of bringing the country's political weight in line with its economic power.

By strengthening the East Asian vector of its foreign policy, Russia would like to see Japan as a partner in shaping a new political and economic climate in this vast and very promising region of the world. There are all prerequisites for this, because our countries do not act as competitors here, but on the contrary, are objectively interested in each other, in particular, in maintaining a balance of power and influence that ensures stability.

The task of preventing the revival of the arms race in Northeast Asia is also dictated by the goals of our country's domestic policy aimed at intensifying the socio-economic development of Siberia and the Far East.



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