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The Russians (or Chinese, or North Koreans) are coming! What to do: Fight or flight?

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"If Japan were attacked by another country, would you flee? Or take up arms?"

With these and other questions. Weekly Playboy (June 6) ran the results of a survey of 1,000 adult men and women (age 20-69) residing in the main islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku, plus 100 each in Hokkaido and Okinawa. The later were tabulated separately owing to their proximity to Russia and China, the two closest countries with large and powerful military forces.

First, the survey asked, "Within the next 10 years, do you see any possibility of Japan going to war with another country?" Just under half, 49.6%, of the respondents thought there was no possibility. But 31.5% replied that could happen in any part of Japan, and 18.9% believed war might occur in either Hokkaido or Okinawa.

Respondents on Okinawa were particularly nervous, with 33% saying they felt their prefecture could come under attack within the next decade, whereas only 32% said they thought there was no possibility of a war within the next 10 years.

Next question: If Japan were to be attacked by Russia, China or North Korea, do you believe the Japan Self Defense Forces would be capable of repelling them?

The replies were not encouraging: Both 7% for both Russia and China, and 14% in the case of North Korea.

Assuming the U.S. will come to Japan's assistance however, the responses went up, to 55%, 56% and 54%, respectively -- still not very encouraging.

Next question: What percentage of GDP do you think should be devoted to defense? Here, 19.4% said they favor a major increase to 2% or even greater and 38.3% favored a moderate increase of between 1% but below 2% of GDP.

Still, 32.6% thought defense outlays should be kept at the current level; 3.4% said it should be reduced to between 0.5% and 1% of GDP, and 6.3% said it should be reduced to below 0.5%.

Now let's get down to the real nitty-gritty: "If an enemy force invaded your area, what would you do?"

The responses, for males only, were: Take up arms and fight, with 15%; not fight directly, but provide assistance to the Self Defense Forces, 28.2%; evacuate to a domestic location 32.2%; flee overseas, 12.6%; and neither evacuate nor resist, 9.6%.

Broken down by age, the percentage of respondents saying they would resist armed occupiers climbs from 16% of males in their 30s to 24% in their 40s, 29% in their 50s and 31% in their 60s.

Those who replied that they would either fight or give support to the SDF were also asked what they thought about those who would do neither. Of these, 41.6% said males of military age should be obliged to remain in the country; 13.1% said no one should flee, irrespective of age or gender; and 42.3% said those who wish to flee should be allowed to do so.

To the question "If the area where you reside were occupied by a foreign army, what would you do?" 23.6% of males would resist or give support to partisans; 12.2% would resist non-violently; 7% would cooperate with the occupiers; 35% would consider fleeing the area to a place where they could provide some form of support; and 20.4% would try to flee abroad.

For the final question, the subjects were asked what they thought about Ukraine's order prohibiting adult males from leaving the country. Among males, 12.2% believed this to be a matter of course and another 44% said under the circumstances it could not be helped. Here are some other male/female responses (multiple replies permitted).

  1. It is an honor to contribute to one's country (14.6%/6.6%)
  2. Because of the Russian invasion, it can't be helped (37.6%/26%)
  3. It's pitiful to force men to separate from their loved ones (24.6%/36.2%)
  4. Applying the law to males only is unfair (18.4%/21.4%)
  5. Those determined to flee should do so, despite the order to remain in the country (32.8%/40.4%)

"Around the start of the 1990s, when I managed public affairs at the Defense Agency, the Cabinet Office conducted a similar survey. The responses left me shocked," said Kyoji Yanazawa, a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Defense and presently director of International Geopolistic Institute Japan. "In contrast to fewer than 10% of Japanese who said they would resist an armed attack, the same question in South Korea garnered a 60 to 70% response.

"Overall, for Japanese, war is still a 'personal matter' that lacks a sense of reality," Yanazawa added. "I haven't observed a great change in Japanese people's views on this topic over the past 20 or so years."

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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Unfortunately wars are as brutal today as they have ever been. Russia, China and North Korea would not leave many males free. They would execute many of fighting age and take most of the rest for forced labor where ever it is needed. For local resistance it would rely heavily on female fighters taking actions like sabotage and killing stray soldiers as the opportunity arises. Retributions would then be faced among those left in local populations.

With both Russia and China, when they conquer, they assimilate into their nations and never give back (see Kuril Islands, Tibet, Eastern Ukraine, Crimea), so anything they take from Japan will be Russified or Chinafied and no longer considered part of Japan. Citizens will either be expelled or expected to change citizenship to remain.

There is no good outcome for Japan if it loses. Ukraine understands the true cost of losing and it is why they fight so hard to retain freedom and self determination from the Russian invaders. Ukraine will not stop until all of it's territory is liberated from Russian hands. There is no other acceptable alternative.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

You would find a similar percentage in most of Western Europe as well.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

US Japan security treaty, Article 5, states that the US will defend Japan if it's attacked by a third party.

Not saying China, Russia, NK will not attack, but when they do, meaning starting a war with the US, the global politics at that time would be so messed up, running away will no longer be an option.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Do everything possible to prevent being eaten by the cannibal, or pay the cannibal to eat us last. Which makes more sense?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

El RataMay 27 11:24 am JST

Most men would flee, Yamato men have been emasculated for decades, they only care about manga, anime, video games and looking like effeminate K-pop idols.

Couldn't agree more.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sounds like both sides on the issue of Japan and War are standing firm, though I suspect the conservative/nationalist side is getting some growth such as with the high support for raising the JSDF budget to 2% GDP.

I see war with China more likely than war with Russia. However China has plenty of reasons to not attack Taiwan which is how war would break out in this next decade. Despite the increase in military spending, everyone still wants to keep the status quo.

I do have to admit that unless the attack force is limited, I don’t see Japan being able to defend itself without American support. Honestly only Japan’s maritime branch seems able to take on an invasion fleet while the ground and air forces would have to resort to quick strike tactics instead of pitched battles.

Honestly, as concerned as I am of the tensions across East Asia, I don’t want the budget to go over 2% GDP or even reach it. Maybe at most I’m cool with between 1% and 1.5%.

As for what I would do if I lived in Japan during an invasion, I would either move if possible because I don’t want to be killed. If it was too late for that, I would help out the JSDF, though I wouldn’t become a soldier. I have methemogloninemia, a Japanese strain of it meaning my blood cells don’t take in as much oxygen as regular ones do, so I’m not great physically. Under occupation, I probably would cooperate to some extent while seeing what I can do to fight back. After all, not all invaders are going to be pure evil. Worse comes to worse though, I will take up arms.

I personally do find issue with conscription. While I like the military, I wouldn’t want to be forced into it. Sure, between being a volunteer only force and the lack of benefits to being a member the JSDF has one of the smaller defense forces in the region, but I find it admirable that they are just done with conscription. It’s not like the JSDF will have the numbers to stop people from running anyways. With less than 300,000 personnel in the entire JSDF, they will have to rely on the police and coast guard to bolster numbers. Technically there is also no need for more troops as Japan like Taiwan has really mountainous terrain. It was a nightmare for American planners during WW2 to think about how long and bloody the Invasion of Japan would be, so I doubt China will do much better if we all think that an invasion of Taiwan would be hard enough for China, and especially after Russia’s poor performance with terrain in its favor.

All in all, tensions are high. I support being ready to punch back after getting punched, though I hope things aren’t taken too far. Nations like Japan are dependent on both the US and China for defense and economics respectively. I am concerned about Article 9, but given that opinion polls still have a near-even divide between respondents on the issue, I think it’ll last. I honestly think the Japanese want a shield to bash back against attackers instead of a sword. They’ll want the shield to be made of the best material, but still want to avoid using it. To be fair to nations like China and places like Okinawa though, a shield can still be a weapon and given how Captain America uses his, things can still go badly. However, I still hold out hope that the Invasion of Ukraine is making everybody think twice. Yes, nations are building up armed forces in case of a war, but with the hammering of Russia via economics and its slow progress in the war, I like to imagine China is having even further doubts on a military invasion. If Ukraine wins the war, then I have high doubts on another one breaking out. In recent history we’ve seen the US getting kicked out of Afghanistan by the Taliban, a political guerrilla force. If Russia loses to Ukraine, then I doubt China will want to try a war against Taiwan, especially if the US is serious about protecting the status quo. I honestly think it’ll take something drastic for war to break out and while politicians are pushing things towards the edge, I can’t really say that they have reached the teetering part. They are getting closer, but I think we can still breath easy. Of course if the US builds a base on Taiwan or signs a new treaty with Taiwan, it’s time to start sweating bullets. As is also the case if China’s grey zone incursions into Taiwanese territory end up with someone getting killed to a plane crashing.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Very disappointing, but not surprising as it supports what I have already thought.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I remember years ago when a Danish politician named Mogens Glistrup advocated that his country's Ministry of Defense be replaced by an answerphone with a recorded message that says "We surrender" in Russian.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogens_Glistrup

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Ask foreigners and Japanese who own other passport(s) the same question

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If some enemy kills a friend, the decision to fight will be easier than the survey suggests. This kind of survey is not that informative, and may encourage an enemy, who will then be disappointed that so many stayed to fight.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

People’d come around.

Sth Korea at 70-odd%! Not surprised at that. A reality and daily part of the culture (eg. In Japan for comparison, think ‘earthquake’)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ask politicians particularly Non-LDP the same questions

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

They didn't have an option... "fight on the side or aid the invader."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It already lacks in a few first basic educational efforts for the civilians. Still not even talking about using or knowing about guns and other weapons or mastering a shooting training, quasi military march or obstacle run , but can everyone quickly handle and put on a gas mask within 30 seconds, as well as putting on an ABC suit (no that’s no school uniform for preschoolers or first graders lol) in under a minute? The people in all those named countries can, or at least they’ve seen and learned it once at high school.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Most men would flee, Yamato men have been emasculated for decades, they only care about manga, anime, video games and looking like effeminate K-pop idols.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

Not saying China, Russia, NK will not attack, but when they do, meaning starting a war with the US, the global politics at that time would be so messed up, running away will no longer be an option.

Tell that to South Vietnam, Afghanistan,...

If the US' special interests outweigh Japan, then the US will sell out of Japan in a heartbeat. However, LDP elites are masochist poodles who have averted this possibility by selling Japan's sovereignty to the US military and American corporations.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It can be difficult to resist an armed invasion. But once an enemy is in place and starts to relax, you can begin to pick them off one by one. When they relax, when they sleep, when they stray from the rest, when they aren't paying attention. Harvest their stuff, hide/destroy the body, move on to the next.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

dont worry at all.

you have best army on your own soil you pay hefty costs for them from our taxes.they will stop anyone.

so there is no need to worry at all.

US army will stop all.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japanese people are smarter, more realistic, and more peaceful than LDP elitists and American warmongers.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

No surprises here. I would not expect any other level of responses even if it wasn't weekly Playboy running the poll.

The replies were not encouraging: Both 7% for both Russia and China, and 14% in the case of North Korea.

...

Next question: What percentage of GDP do you think should be devoted to defense? Here, 19.4% said they favor a major increase to 2% or even greater and 38.3% favored a moderate increase of between 1% but below 2% of GDP.

Me thinks the Japanese see the JSDF as a military "deterrent" or a force to deal with disaster-relief and nothing more (which makes sense to me actually). By simply existing is the deterrent function of the JDSF active, hence no need to increase the budget much further, just keep them operational.

Assuming the U.S. will come to Japan's assistance however, the responses went up, to 55%, 56% and 54%, respectively -- still not very encouraging.

Not mentioning that it is the Japan territory which is poised to become a battlefield, hence (like Ukraine) a landscape of ruins...Nobody is looking forward to that, hence...

The responses, for males only, were: Take up arms and fight, with 15%; not fight directly, but provide assistance to the Self Defense Forces, 28.2%; evacuate to a domestic location 32.2%; flee overseas, 12.6%; and neither evacuate nor resist, 9.6%.

Also, fighting with what exactly: mix Cup Ozeki into local Molotov Cocktail and throw them at the enemy? Fighting, as in who is fighting how exactly: contrary to Ukraine does the population have no military training either, hence giving weapons to the population is meaningless.

IMHO, the biggest take from this article (beyond stating the obvious) is how many people seem to think that...

It is an honor to contribute to one's country (14.6%/6.6%)

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

What to do?

Learn to speak Russian.

Maybe Chinese.

Put up posters of Putin and Xi all over the home and office.

Spy on my neighbors too.

Drink more vodka.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

No one is going to fight for the LDP

right wing ultranationalists know how to drive around in their black vans to intimidate people. but when it comes to real world stuff they can't fight their way out of a paper bag

case in point. look at yukio mishima and his ATROCIOUS level of Kenjutsu. his appointed kaishakunin Masakatsu Morita failed in his attempt to decapitate Mishima.

right wingers are literally the quintessential bark is worse than their bite kind of people.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

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