politics

1991 Gulf War trauma began Japan's retreat from pacifism

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By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo

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“We learnt from the Gulf War that just sending money and not people would not earn us international respect,” said Tetsuya Nishimoto, then a senior Japanese Ground Self Defense Force general and now retired.

Respect is so important, or at least the image of respect, to many Japanese and these guys in the military felt it the most. So maybe between the lines he is saying that it's the world's fault, at least a portion of it, that the constitution was reinterpreted, passing around the blame.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

What the US is doing to Japan is horrible. Forcing this country to war after 70 years lived in the illusion it could be a peaceful country for ever is so cruel. It's even worse than Italy's situation since we never lived that illusion. The US should stop pushing militarism in Japan. Apparently the US really want WWIII. See the mess they created in ME, their hate toward Russia and what they are doing in the Pacific and South China Sea.

-1 ( +16 / -17 )

Yes they'll have to make use of the local prostitution services just like all other coalition forces deployed overseas. And they do train with live ammunition alone and with allied militaries. Do they have the experience of US forces? Of course not, But neither do the Chinese PLA.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

...nothing like a good dose of inferiority complex.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Shame on the US for being what they are. A country whose richness is based on wars that they create everywhere. Do you see China or Russia messing up in the American continent? No. But you see the Americans messing up in Asia, Europe and Africa. If there will be a war between China and Japan, only Chinese and Japanese people will suffer. No one will touch American soil, while the US will make profit by this conflict how they do everywhere. Their hands are so dirty of blood.

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

recalling the shame he felt watching Japanese personnel build snowmen as U.S.-led coalition soldiers fought to evict the Iraqi army from the Kuwaiti desert.

why is that shameful? It is a wonderful thing to keep your soldiers safe. Just because you have a strong military doesn't mean you have to use it. Its like saying if you are physically strong or a great martial artist it would be a shame not to use your skills. As a weight lifter and a martial artist, I am happy and grateful that I have never had to use my abilities.

The SDF have not lost a single soldier in combat since ww2. That's something to be proud of, not ashamed of. This article is so wrong on so many levels. We should not be trumpeting the glories of war or intervention. What the US does is so bad with its intervention and destablizing of the ME. Why on Earth does Japan want to do the same? It is exactly because the SDF were building snowmen and not killing other human beings that Japan has not had any terror attacks on its soil. Maybe that's worth mentioning.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

In 1991, I was living in Tokyo. It was decided to give this massive amount of money to the U.S.A. to wage its "war" in the Gulf.

One day, I was on my scooter going to work and saw a huge demonstration against this and the Japanese proxy involvement that stretched from Shinjuku to Kokkai Gijido Mae. The marchers took up one traffic lane.

How many people is that?

I can't begin to calculate. Several hundred thousand? A millon?

And there with was NOTHING about it on the TV, radio or in any newspaper that I could find.

Obviously, for people like Yoshitomi, who were miffed because they couldn't join the slaughter and mayhem, it was a disappointment. But a lot of people were completely against it. And a lot of other people were in apathy about it, which is how there was not much protest beyond what I witnessed.

Japan didn't then and hasn't now retreated from Pacifism.

We have a few psychos who would like to stir things up and have yet another lovely war with blood, gore and guts, death and destruction.

But the vast majority of us just want to get on with our lives.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

I have numerous friends in all branches of the JSDF, and over time things have changed quite a bit in how they and the population view them.

There was a time, roughly 30 years ago, that many JSDF members did not openly talk about nor let people know (casual encounters) what they did for work, and entering the JSDF was not a job that many kids wanted to consider. Recruiting was very difficult, particularly down here in Okinawa, considering it's history and all.

However, that has changed A LOT, particularly with the JSDF being used in humanitarian missions, and people seeing them in disaster relief efforts throughout the country, in numerous disasters, their image has changed quite a bit.

Sadly however, the image has taking a beating in many ways, as they people now considering joining the JSDF have to consider the possibility of participating in a foreign war, and that has put the brakes on many from joining.

Abe and many of these senior officials may want one thing, but the people see things differently, it will be interesting to see who "wins" this one.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

@Aly Rustom: this article seems made to increase nationalism. It's not like Japan wants wars. The US are exploiting puppet right wing Japanese politicians for their plans in the Far East, like they do in ME and other places. It's disgusting. At least they lost any respect from most of your average person here in Europe. We can see their true colors very well to the extent that also Russia seems a country with more common sense to many of us.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

@Yubaru Good post!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

People who disagree with me are only in denial. I would like to see the Americans protest against all their damn wars but I never see them doing it. The level of brainwashing is high so their denial is normal. But only try to look at your foreign policy since the end of WWII to today. Plenty of wars useful only to your country interests. Modern Japan is your own creature and the current Japanese militarism is the direct result of your government pressure in this direction, stop pretending it's not true. The US were also blatantly hostile to leaders friendly towards China like Hatoyama, whose politics was a failure mainly because of this reason - see the Okinawa situation.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

I have no respect for people who, paid to protect Japan, spend their time instead looking for ways to join in other countries' wars and in the process make Japan a target. No respect for people who think that having a working military (despite a peace constitution) is a waste if it isn't out there, killing people. No respect for people who feel 'shame' that their self-defence forces are making themselves useful in their own country instead of taking part in another country's war of choice. No respect for people who, too old themselves to fight and with no kids, plan to send other people's sons and daughters into harm's way just to soothe their own feelings of inadequacy.

Not just no respect, but positive contempt.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

And that's what the US do best, drag other countries to war, gringos and all its allied make war to sale weapons, as long they make HUGE profits, our world won't get peace, terrorist are those whom carry terror all over the world(Vietnam , Korea, Panama , El Salvador , Nicaragua , Middle East ) , all for the sake of sale weapons.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It seems as if everyone is bashing the feelings of military men and women when I would guarantee a large percentage of you have never served. There are men and women who volunteer to fight and serve their country (no matter the president, policy or why) and do not complain. If someone joins the military wanting to protect their country and "get in the fight" of course they would be filled with shame and the anxiousness of wanting to help. That is what people in the military do. You can say we are brainwashed or robots or whatever, but when your security is threatened it will be the military you look to as why they haven't done more.

Before we bash someone in the military as wanting to be an adrenaline junkie or war monger, first put yourself in their shoes that they had the courage to go and volunteer to do this. People criticize to easily without looking from the other side.

"I would like to see the Americans protest against all their damn wars but I never see them doing it. "

Obviously you did not take the time to research the above before posting. You can easily find people who oppose the American military and its way of thinking in the U.S. There are even groups of U.S. veterans who make it their point to protest against the military and its wars, and military members who have illegally left service in protest of those policies.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

I would like to ask all the people mentioned here: Do the ends justify the means? Does having Japan engage in overseas conflict justify gutting the constitution? If they say "yes" then they contribute to a mood where the rule of law is over and Japan returns its law-by-decree past. Japan becomes that genie that everyone, including most Japanese, wanted to keep in the bottle in the wake of WWII.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It seems as if everyone is bashing the feelings of military men and women

No. What is getting the bashing it deserves is the mind-set of the top brass who are willing to use other people's lives to achieve their own gung-ho fantasies.

There are men and women who volunteer to fight and serve their country

Not the JSDF. The majority of its members joined on the understanding that they would not be sent out of the country and would not be asked to fight in wars of aggression. Especially not other countries' wars. Two of my neighbour's sons are in the JSDF. They are proud of the work they have done helping people in the aftermath of disasters - 3/11, Tohoku, Niigata, to name a few - as well they should be. They joined up to serve, not to fight in foreign wars. That was not part of the job description when they joined, and the Constitution supposedly guaranteed their job description.

If someone joins the military wanting to protect their country and "get in the fight" of course they would be filled with shame

If someone joins the JSDF wanting to 'get in the fight' they're making a mistake (or were, until Abe started messing with the Constitution). If they're so eager to 'fight' maybe they should move to a country where that's the norm. In the meantime they should be filled with shame that they have this urge to go out and use tax-funded state-of-the-art technology to kill people they've never met and have no argument with.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

@Ingtimewndr: I mean mass protests on the streets, to the same extent you see tons of Americans going to shopping on Black Friday. For American people became "normal" being for ever in war, just because the war doesn't touch their soil. Try to think...Your average American thinks it's normal to own a gun. In Europe this is crazy. You have been brainwashed in believing that guns is the best way to defend yourself just because the government needs tons of people ready for being sacrificed in cruel wars made only for the sake of some elites. America is a huge war machine. It's scary. The rest of the world is only trying to protect their space from American military presence everywhere. Now America is turning Japan into a war machine as well exploiting right wing politicians and fear of a Chinese threat that isn't really real.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

@Ingtimewndr

You paint a lovely, romantic picture of the armed forces. I know Americans who have "served" (more on that word later) as well as Brits. The Americans joined up because they knew they'd get their college fees paid, the Brits because they were knuckleheads, unemployable in the normal world.

I'm not knocking the armed forces in general; my father did important surveillance work for the Royal Air Force and my mother was an Air Force fitness trainer, but the idea that there's something sacred about working for the military is just wrong.

I believe I'm "serving" my country by living in Japan as a civilised human being and showing the locals that English people are valuable members of society. I might not be machine-gunning any Muslims, but I think I'm doing okay. I'd rather be a heart surgeon than a fighter pilot. Wouldn't you?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Now America is turning Japan into a war machine as well exploiting right wing politicians and fear of a Chinese threat that isn't really real.

Hogwash. Last I checked Japan is a free and democratic country. If the Japanese public wanted US forces to leave, they could easily. I don't agree with the recent reinterpretation of the constitution, but the Japanese are well within their rights to amend their constitution if they so chose.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

@Takeda: Japan isn't free like you are saying. Not even my country, Italy, plenty of US bases.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Agreed. Having the same political party - the LDP - rule almost without interruption for 60 years can hardly be called democratic. Japan's retreat from Article 9 really began with the creation of the Self Defence Forces. An army in all but name. The period afterwards has simply been denial mode

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@Takeda: Japan isn't free like you are saying. Not even my country, Italy, plenty of US bases.

Yes they are. If the Japanese public wants they bases gone, they can force the bases to go, no different than the Philippines did.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

cleo

All men and women who serve in the armed forces deserve your respect, whether it is in wartime or peacetime. These brave young people may have to die for you one day. You may be contemptuous of political leaders who send them into war, as am I, but please never, ever disrespect these fine young men and women.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

You may be contemptuous of political leaders who send them into war, as am I, but please never, ever disrespect these fine young men and women.

You misunderstand me, or perhaps I wasn't clear. I have every respect for the ordinary men and women in the JSDF, I think they have every right to be proud of the job they do - and do well. My contempt is reserved for the top brass like this Yoshitomi character, who apparently feels shame at not being able to send those young men and women out into harm's way, to kill and be killed. Him, and the politicians like Abe who, from the safety of the Nagatacho bunker, hanker for Japan's old 'glory' days.

My contempt is for the people who disrespect other people's sons and daughters enough to treat them like cannon fodder.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

recalling the shame he felt

One man's shame is another man's scruple.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I dunno, maybe it is former-Major Yoshitomi's role to say his feelings. Civilians like critics and politicians on one side or the other are labeled hawk or dove. But trauma in an an ex-military man who felt he was missing out on action - I am not sure which bird to call him - not a chicken but certainly not an eagle.

Reminds me of this:

Generals and Majors always Seem so unhappy 'less they got a war

(from Generals and Majors' Moulding(from XTC from about 1980). Here is a Youtube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSYK2xyA138 Check for RIchard Branson appearing early on - during his Virgin Records days.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

why is that shameful? It is a wonderful thing to keep your soldiers safe.

Shame that while others are out fighting and potentially dying to fulfill their responsibilities, you sit safe at home and your contribution is a check? Is that really too hard for you to understand?

Let's not pretend that the first Gulf War was some sort of US cowboy adventurism. One sovereign state invaded another without provocation and refused to leave. The mission was fully sanctioned by the UN, and exactly the sort of responsibility the international community should fulfill - and Japan couldn't meet that responsibility with the same level of commitment its allies could.

It's all very well to say you are against war and violence. However, yourself are protected daily by police men and women who would ultimately, if necessary, kill or die to keep you safe. UN Peacekeeping missions and military interventions are not so different. It's also all very well to say that you don't like the US and want the military bases gone, but you must understand that US protection is the very reason Japan has been able to stay "pacifist" for so long.

I am afraid that you don't understand these things, or don't want to admit them. I am afraid that your argument boils down to "keep our boys safe" and "don't get involved" - which translates directly to "let those people get slaughtered; doesn't matter as long as we aren't in danger; their not our people anyway"; there are plenty of reasonable and principled arguments against military intervention, but I'm not hearing them being made in this thread; just variations on "Grrrr. War bad. US bad."

0 ( +3 / -3 )

One must be proud of being in the army only if you fight for a good cause, helping the people because otherwise you are only serving vested financial interest and there is nothing to be proud of.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“They asked how Japan could be a true U.S. ally if it hadn’t sent troops,” said Yoshitomi, recalling the shame he felt watching Japanese personnel build snowmen as U.S.-led coalition soldiers fought

. . . . enough said there.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

"That same year (2004) China overtook Japan to become Asia’s biggest military spender, and by last year Beijing was second only to the United States globally, spending more than triple Japan’s defense budget;" makes it abundantly clear that Japan has been spending on military equipment all along. It should. Every country in the region is beefing-up defenses to counter the openly aggressive moves on the part of China. War is as inevitable in the South China Sea as it is in the middle east. Be prepared. As long as China continues to suppress its neighbors, war will come.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is obviously a pretty touchy topic, but as some have correctly pointed out the SDF IS a military force, plain and simple always has been.

The protection provided by the yanks has ALLOWED Japan to live in a fantasy like post WWII period right up to the present. Japanese don't seem to realize how lucky they are that they didn't have to quickly re-invent their own defense/offensive capabilities after WWII.

Couple this with 70+ years of denial & whitewashing Japan has done ITSELF no favours. I should have dealt better with history & THEN the govts SHOULD have tried to amend the constitution legally(via voting by the people), which they didn't & haven't to date.

Fast forward & we have a population that like the peaceful nature of Japan, but don't know or wont admit HOW that's come to be ( ie Yanks & their bases)

Japan has long benefited from work done by militaries other than their own, its got to the point most Japanese see it as normal for OTHER militaries to fight for them..... to an extent.

I DO NOT like how abe is bending & breaking Japan's constitution, however the blame for this does extent to the people of Japan to an extent.

I mean of the Yanks were to pull up & leave, boy oh boy bet you would see some changes get in gear once Chinese vessels start sailing all over through J-territory.

Look, Japan can do what it wants, or do nothing, either way there WILL be consequences.

I don't like what the US govt does with their military at times, but Japan is going to HAVE to come back to the real world one way another, choice is there.

But expect the world to send THEIR sons & daughters for Japan's benefit!!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Not the JSDF. The majority of its members joined on the understanding that they would not be sent out of the country and would not be asked to fight in wars of aggression. Especially not other countries' wars."

Say what you want about the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but it was NOT a war of aggression. No multilateral action against Iraq would have been taken without Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Kuwait in August 1990.

And to imply that the 1991 Gulf War was simply a war of other countries and not Japan's concern--that's real head-in-the-sand thinking. Are rigidly pacifist residents of Japan under the impression that the bright lights of Tokyo and all the other electricity in the country are kept on by magic? Kuwait matters and we all know why. Matters every bit as much to a resident of Osaka as it does to a resident of Philadelphia.

And to deny that the Japan many of us know and love today did not come about at least in part because of the enormous economic boons provided by the U.S.-led wars in Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s is more head-in-the-sand thinking.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One must be proud of being in the army only if you fight for a good cause, helping the people because otherwise you are only serving vested financial interest and there is nothing to be proud of.

Was the Gulf War a good cause? Or was it "serving vested financial interests"? Both, I suspect - though I fear such a conclusion is incompatible with many people's world views.

Of course, as a soldier, you don't get to choose which wars you fight, do you?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"And to deny that the Japan many of us know and love today did not come about at least in part because of the enormous economic boons provided by the U.S.-led wars in Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s is more head-in-the-sand thinking."

Correction: Replace "deny" in above sentence with "insist" and that's what I meant to communicate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Triumvere

Of course, as a soldier, you don't get to choose which wars you fight, do you?

Exactly why I decided not to join the police....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@cleo " In the meantime they should be filled with shame that they have this urge to go out and use tax-funded state-of-the-art technology to kill people they've never met and have no argument with."

I am sorry but everyone can't live in a fairytale that defense of the nation is not needed and that people all over the world will settle disputes with flowers and tea. That is not the world we live in today, the last issue of the ISIS magazine opened up the idea of attacking Japan not for hosting U.S. bases but for their own policies. What do you do when/if a terror attack takes place here. Those same people should be ashamed of defending the country and its citizens with tax payer money?

@Alex80

I don't believe I have been brainwashed into anything, you are trying to compare two totally different cultures. Just because something would be considered crazy in one country doesn't mean the rest of the citizens of the other are brainwashed (i.e. Sharia Law).

@Lucabrasi

Sorry I didn't know that moving to another country and avoiding military service was serving my country. Also didn't know I was uncivilized or not a value to society because everyone that joins the military is either too stupid for the real world or just trying to get their college paid for.

I would not rather be a heart surgeon as that is not what interests me. I would rather go and do what I am interested in instead of making comparisons between a doctor and a fighter pilot. Again, just because you know someone who has served does not mean you know the feelings of the whole.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

i am so mixed on this issue, I always looked on in sorrow that Japan holds so closely to a constitution dictated by MacArthur. Yet , watching a change from seeing the self defense force building snowmen to being an active partner with the USA is not what is wished either.

Japan since the Pacific War has kept a peaceful way, which is why the country is like it is, all that has a potential of being wiped away.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

MASSWIPE. I think there is some doubt that the first Gulf War was not a war of aggression. Myself, I am still unsure but there is equivocal evidence that the US signalled to Iraq that invasion of Kuwait might be tolerated. The US had ample reasons to want a casus belli and Saddam fell into the trap. Even the images of pinpoint accuracy and shoot-em-up excellence are now widely known to be carefully selected, if not doctored. Conspiracy theories? Perhaps. But the US has created several documented situations to justify war in the past 200 years and is not particularly trustworthy. You see, in the end, the US is widely perceived as liking war, especially war where it can shoot from afar first and seek diplomatic solutions after. The worry that Japan will be dragged into a war the US spirits out of nothing is now much more real than it was.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Of course, as a soldier, you don't get to choose which wars you fight, do you?

Very true but you can choose to join or not.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

everyone can't live in a fairytale that defense of the nation is not needed

I never said defence of the nation is not needed. I made a distinction between defending the nation (at home) and going off to fight in a war of choice started/manipulated by some 'ally' on behalf of big business.

What do you do when/if a terror attack takes place here.

Deal with it, here. Not by bombing/drone-striking markets and weddings on the other side of the world.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@cleo

At the end of the day defense of the nation at home will stretch into having to defend yourself on foreign lands. Unfortunately, the enemy will not post themselves up in the target country identifying themselves as that. We all understand that world leaders will send off men and women into combat while their own well off kids will never raise their hand for an oath of enlistment. Nobody cares why they are there or the reason they are in that country when they are being shot at. The only thing people want to do is ensure themselves and their comrades get home.

So because air support has gone wayward either because of the controller on the ground or due to bad information, does not put a black eye on the military as a whole. What happened with the MSF bombing was sad and should thoroughly be investigated. So if an attack were to take place, you would rather have the military sit on their hands and lick their wounds at home then start looking for who planned the attacks? How can you deal with it here, when more than likely the attackers are all dead?

That is the kind of fairytale world I am speaking of.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Nobody cares why they are there or the reason they are in that country when they are being shot at. The only thing people want to do is ensure themselves and their comrades get home.

And they'll kill anyone standing in the way of that goal?

What happened with the MSF bombing was sad

Sad?? It was an outrage. Because it was MSF it created a stink. Never mind about all the 'little' people who got droned/bombed and, because they have no voice, simply get ignored, or are assumed to have 'deserved it' because, hey, if they weren't Bad Guys, they wouldn't be there, would they? And the kids? - Yeah, better to get them before they have time to grow up into terrorists, right?

If I'm in a fairytale world, you're in Hollywood testosterone fantasy land.

if an attack were to take place, you would rather have the military sit on their hands and lick their wounds at home then start looking for who planned the attacks?

You mean like Dubya went looking in Iraq after 9/11?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If the end "goal" is going home to see your family in one piece, yep I believe any human being would react the same way. If you think any differently in protecting yourself, again you can't speak on someone else's actions until you have been in their shoes and that is perfectly your right to think that. But to look down on someone for doing what they believe in is in my opinion wrong.

I didn't see where anyone in the American military or media has said that anyone deserved the bombing at MSF. Now all you are doing is creating a story out of your own beliefs and ideas not based on facts. I completely agree that if the aircrew did in fact have the coordinates of the hospital and continued with the strike, they need to answer.

If believing what I want about defending a nation in today's times is a Hollywood testosterone fantasy land, I will gladly accept my place in that land. All I am doing is trying to move forward from people attempting to generalize one community of people because of the acts of a few.

We all know Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, we don't even know if Afghanistan did, but instead of pointing that out, again you only picked one side of the coin.

JSDF personnel were involved in a few skirmishes in Iraq and a few months ago a string of veterans committed suicide. No word on if there time in Iraq was linked, but they should be ashamed of themselves as well right? Maybe they should have just laid down their weapons and said they didn't want to fight like you suggest.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

they can force the bases to go, no different than the Philippines did.

True, but no-one wants to be the first to stand up in opposition

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The thesis of this article is correct: the overwhelmingly negative push back Japan got for its 'checkbook' diplomacy shocked the conservative elite.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

MoonrakerDEC. 21, 2015 - 12:25PM JST

MASSWIPE. I think there is some doubt that the first Gulf War was not a war of aggression. Myself, I am still unsure but there is equivocal evidence that the US signalled to Iraq that invasion of Kuwait might be tolerated.

Absolutely. US has a long standing policy that it would not intervene in the territorial disputes between foreign countries. By confirming the policy to Saddam Fusain, it triggered the war and all the mess that followed.

By confirming the policy to Xi, it might cause another war or two in East and South China seas.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The first Gulf War to free Kuwait from the unprovoked invasion by Saddam Hussein was seen as justified - that's why Japan was embarrassed not to be part of the just liberation when it had the means to help friends who put lives on the line. (What happens in the years after the first Gulf War is another story, but that was the feeling then at the time of the first Gulf War.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just reading all these comments make me even more certain that until there is genuine world government, and that's not even on the horizon, then neutrality as in Sweden or Switzerland is the best option. By all means have an efficient and up-to-date defence force; by all means share intelligence and training with other friendly countries; but under no circumstances agree to join in any war, especially one promoted by the Americans, unless your OWN country is directly under threat. One Middle-Eastern country wants to invade another? Fine - that's their problem, let them get on with it. Whoever wins will want to trade the only resource they have, oil, so buy from the victor. Cynical? Yes, but cynicism is the refuge of the perceptive person who doesn't like what he or she sees but can do nothing about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Just reading all these comments make me even more certain that until there is genuine world government, and that's not even on the horizon, then neutrality as in Sweden or Switzerland is the best option...cynicism is the refuge of the perceptive person who doesn't like what he or she sees but can do nothing about it."

Couple of problems with these statements--Japan, of course, is not neutral. It is strongly allied with the USA, and that alliance is virtually a constitutive part of what makes Japan the country many of us know and love today. To imply that Japan can do nothing about a situation that its pacifist citizens don't like is ludicrous--as a sovereign country Japan can fully implement the pacifist agenda and do what the Socialist and Communist parties consistently advocated during the Cold War. And that is formally end the alliance with the USA and become officially neutral.

But Japan won't do that, and therein lies the problem. The country and its people come across as wanting to have their cake and eat it too. Enjoy all the benefits of a close alliance with the USA without doing what fellow American ally South Korea did during the Vietnam War--send its soldiers to fight and die in that conflict alongside Americans.

This is why all the talk about a Pacific version of NATO that involves Japan to somehow check China is fantasy. Won't happen if Japanese look at Germany's involvement as a NATO member in Afghanistan since 2001--thousands of soldiers deployed and dozens killed (at least 50)--and find that absolutely unacceptable.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Alex80Dec. 21, 2015 - 09:06AM JST People who disagree with me are only in denial. I would like to see the Americans protest against all their damn wars but >I never see them doing it.

Do you live in the United States? I've seen demonstrations against every war since Vietnam. OK none for Grenada because it happened too fast. I think you're going off the deep end with your anti-US diatribe, alleged "right wing" Japanese politicians, etc. China, the world's most powerful dictatorship has become a threat to the region and all democratic nations have ab obligation to help maintain the peace and stability of the region. Even non-democratic nations.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@MASSWIPE: Japanese should be applauded for not following the US into Vietnam or the middle east. I think you have it backwards. Being an ally doesn't mean you follow an idiot over a cliff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Being an ally doesn't mean you follow an idiot over a cliff."

OK, then tell us: What exactly DOES being an ally of the USA mean for Japan? Because Japan, unlike France and Germany which both broke with the USA over Iraq in 2003, has never been willing to openly disagree with the USA over any of its overseas military actions. But if you don't want to follow that idiot over the cliff, publicly supporting that idiot and never daring to incur the anger of that idiot seems like a contradictory stance.

Never disagree openly, never consider breaking the alliance, enjoy all the benefits of that alliance, but never be so foolish as to send soldiers to fight and die overseas in combat zones because (apparently) ALL overseas military actions conducted by Japan's benefactor are idiotic, aggressive, imperialistic misadventures. I'm not sure how much longer this status quo can last.

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Many interesting points of view here. But, as a Canadian whose second home is in Japan, and whose countrymen and women have suffered awful losses and crippling injuries in recent foreign wars, I'm 100% with cleo. And I was a soldier, when I was young, damn good with an SMG and crack shot over 1.5km. Not much use for those skills, unless it's killing someone. Keep up with the arguments, people, they're interesting to read.

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Alex80DEC. 21, 2015 - 09:37AM JST For American people became "normal" being for ever in war, just because the war doesn't touch their soil.

It's more than that. The all volunteer military means that less than 1% of Americans are directly affected by U.S. military adventures.

Your average American thinks it's normal to own a gun.

Not true. The majority of Americans do not own guns nor do they think gun ownership is "normal" and typically only find it acceptable if they are hunting rifles and shotguns. The majority of Americans, upwards of 70%, want much stricter gun laws than we have now.

MASSWIPEDEC. 22, 2015 - 12:22AM JST "Being an ally doesn't mean you follow an idiot over a cliff." OK, then tell us: What exactly DOES being an ally of the USA mean for Japan? Because Japan, unlike France and Germany which both broke with the USA over Iraq in 2003, has never been willing to openly disagree with the USA over any of its overseas military actions.

I don't remember what Japan said publically or privately about the Iraq invasion. That was a very different government than they have today. But the French and the Germans showed good sense in refusing to participate.

The country and its people come across as wanting to have their cake and eat it too. Enjoy all the benefits of a close alliance with the USA without doing what fellow American ally South Korea did during the Vietnam War--send its soldiers to fight and die in that conflict alongside Americans.

Why in the world would the Japanese have directly participated in Vietnam? The S. Koreans were fools to do so. It was, until the Iraq invasion, the most unnecessary and strategically damaging war the U.S. had ever fought and Japan had nothing to gain by a U.S. "win" there.

Being an ally does not mean blithely joining in regardless of the circumstances. In the unlikely event that the U.S. were attacked, yes. I expect our Asian and European allies to come to our aid. However, it's perfectly legitimate for them to stand on the sidelines when we do something stupid like invading Iraq.

There really are only three "evil" entities in the post-Cold War world and two of them are remnants of it. China will piss and moan about anything Japan does in terms of self-defense or legitimate issues of sovereignty, so Japan might as well assert it short of going to war with China, which is unlikely to happen thanks to Japan's alliance with the U.S. and regardless of whether Japan participates in U.S. boondoggles outside of Asia.

As long as the price of oil stays low, about the only thing Russia can do to earn money is sell weapons. It otherwise remains a failing state as long as it consents to be ruled by the likes of Putin. And while no one wants to start WWIII in Europe, it can't do much more than harass it's former buffer states. Short of using its nuclear weapons, it can't begin to assert itself beyond what it's done in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Evil number three - I don't think the Japanese want to get mixed up in the mess that the Levant has become. Send a hospital ship. Otherwise, you owe nothing to the U.S. to get involved in that and doing so actually reduces your security at home.

lngtimewndrDEC. 21, 2015 - 01:28PM JST At the end of the day defense of the nation at home will stretch into having to defend yourself on foreign lands.

Nonsense. In fact, this attitude actually puts a nation in greater peril. Following your logic, the Indians should be sending combat troops to the Levant to fight ISIS in order to better combat Pakistani extremism.

The U.S. is solely responsible for what is happening right now in Iraq and Syria. Our destruction of Iraq provided an enormous safe haven for ISIS further enlarged by the Syrian civil war. We're tied to this whether America as a whole wants to be or not. Anyone else participating is a fool.

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Is all this Anti-American talk really necessary to discuss the above article? It's a known fact that just 5 years after Imperial Japan surrendered in WWII the U.S. forced Japan to create the JSDF. The USSR's adversarial behavior, Communist victory on e Chinese mainland, the creation of a North and South Korea, all formed the basis of U.S. strategic policy. The U.S, has pressured Japan to "normalize" it's military for 65 years with Japan refusing to budge by hiding behind Article 9. It took China's adopting an anti-Japan policy in the 21st century, openly talking about war, creating the Senkaku issue, advancing into the South China Sea to wake Japan up and accomplish what the US was unable to do for over half a century.

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Ossan Nicely said.

As for the anti-American bile, they do it for the same reason you spit vitriol on China and I vent spleen on the Republican party: they hate America, like you hate China and I hate the Republican party.

So, of course, in order of irrationality to rationality, you got anti-Semites, 'Islamophobes, anti-Americans, you, and then, of course, me. ;)

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Correction- I hate Communist China, the CCP dictatorship. But then so do a lot of Chinese people.

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