Recently, the Japanese Parliament passed controversial legislation pushed by Abe to allow Japanese forces to fight abroad for the first time since 1945. Here is how Reuters reported it:
Japan’s parliament voted into law on Saturday a defense policy shift that could let troops fight overseas for the first time since 1945, a milestone in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to loosen the limits of the pacifist constitution on the military.
Abe says the shift, the biggest change in Japan’s defense policy since the creation of its post-war military in 1954, is vital to meet new challenges such as from a rising China.
But the legislation has triggered massive protests from ordinary citizens and others who say it violates the pacifist constitution and could ensnare Japan in U.S.-led conflicts after 70 years of post-war peace. Abe’s ratings have also taken a hit.
The legislation “is necessary to protect the people’s lives and peaceful way of living and is for the purpose of preventing wars,” Abe told reporters after the bills were approved by the upper house. “I want to keep explaining the laws tenaciously and courteously.”
Japan’s ally the United States has welcomed the changes but China, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime aggression run deep, has repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the move was “unprecedented”.
“We solemnly urge Japan to learn the lessons of history … uphold the path of peaceful development and act cautiously in the areas of the military and security, and do more to help push regional peace and stability rather than the opposite,” it said.
In the lead up to China’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII, I thought I’d do a little personal aside … that might explain why Japan can be so delusional about so many things.
Politics … in many ways … especially politics in the democratic sense (i.e. at the level of the people) … is about caricatures … about simplifying (over-simplifying as the case may be) the issues. Politics is about setting narratives – about burnishing worldviews – through selective highlighting (and de-emphasis) of reality … to present a particular view of the world that sometimes resembles some aspects reality … but that can some times also be completely in contravention with any sane view of reality.
There is a reason why people often avoid talking politics and religion in polite settings. People can try to use logic and reason … but the problem is that underneath iceberg tip of logic and reason are mountains full of unspoken – and sometimes even unconscious – presumptions. It’s why reasonable people can disagree vigorously and get so worked up about political disagreements. Continue reading A short caricature on politics …→
This is not the first time I have read and linked to articles in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus that I find sensible, instead of the misinformation and disinformation we see so often preached in Western press and Japanese press.
I thought this article by Kimie Hara gives a more balanced Japanese view of the issue of territorial dispute between China and Japan and (ultimately, I suppose) U.S. A pdf copy from the site downloaded today is archived below.
[Editor’s note: the English version of post was first posted on Huffington Post and can be found here; and the Chinese version can be found on Guancha.cn here]
SHANGHAI — A few weeks ago at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shinzo Abe made a bold pitch to Asia to buy in on a new type of Japanese leadership. According to Mr. Abe, the peace that is at the foundation of the Asia Pacific’s unprecedented growth can no longer be guaranteed. Without naming China by name, Mr. Abe warns of a new danger that looms on the horizon. The Asia Pacific needs Japanese leadership and a new affirmation of “international law.”
These are heavy words for uncertain times. But should Asia buy in? In his speech, Mr. Abe talked extensively about The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, declaring his government’s strong support of the Philippines and Vietnam in their claims against China.
In addition to our post on “The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” by Han-Yi Shaw, the article “Deconstructing Japan’s Claim of Sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” by Ivy Lee and Fang Ming in Japan Focus is also worth reading. The Shaw article focuses more on the political history surrouding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands while the Lee-Ming article focuses more on the legal history.
It’s never good to dip into one’s savings just to live large. Gluttony and largess – when one can ill afford it – is foolish … and a sign of decadence. To me, the U.S. so-called pivot to Asia – emblemized by President Obama’s trip to Japan – represents just that.
TOKYO — President Obama encountered setbacks to two of his most cherished foreign-policy projects on Thursday, as he failed to achieve a trade deal that undergirds his strategic pivot to Asia and the Middle East peace process suffered a potentially irreparable breakdown.
Mr. Obama had hoped to use his visit here to announce an agreement under which Japan would open its markets in rice, beef, poultry and pork, a critical step toward the trade pact. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not able to overcome entrenched resistance from Japan’s farmers in time for the president’s visit.
This trip was supposed to show that the U.S. is back – and that the pivot is back on track. Yet, on the Washington Post, you will not see any article on Obama’s Japan trip on the top (home) page. On New York Times Home Page, you see just one (the one linked above) – with that one lamenting the visit’s failure.
Wow, here is an update on the China ADIZ and the recent aftermath. While I did expect U.S. and Japan to express some kind of reservation over China’s recent establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Seas, I had not anticipated the full sound and fury of the storm!
Within hours after China’s public announcement of the ADIZ, the U.S. decided to send two B-52s (unarmed) to the edge of China’s ADIZ on a putative long-planned, routine “training mission.” When China did not scramble jets, the U.S. celebrated and congratulated themselves on a job well done! Not to be outdone, Japan and S. Korea then publicly announced that they have also sent military (purportedly surveillance) planes into the area without properly alerting the Chinese side without incurring Chinese interception. The Japanese also went to the extent of ordering its airlines (its two main airlines and all members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan) not to comply with China’s ADIZ (although Japan seems to have done a “U-Turn” for now).
One can find much written about China’s ADIZ. In this post, I want to focus my commentaries on the indignation and concerns that many in the U.S., Japan – even S. Korea – have expressed toward China’s establishment of an ADIZ.
On Sunday, Abe and his party secured a victory to win landslide victories. According to Foreign Policy,
Riding a wave of stimulus money to the voting urns, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party secured a majority in both of the country’s legislative houses, delivering a stamp of approval for his economic policies and possibly setting up Japan for its most significant constitutional revision since World War II.
A man with deeply nationalist roots, Abe has embarked on a twin project of national renewal, launching an aggressive stimulus program — better known as “Abenomics” and which has injected a measure of dynamism to the sluggish Japanese economy — while also floating the idea of revising the country’s pacifist constitution. Abe’s military initiative comes in response to what many in Japan see as the danger of a rising China to the country’s west and the need for Japan not just to have a self defense force but a bona fide military to counter that threat. On Monday, Abe linked those two projects. “Economics is the source of national power. Without a strong economy, we cannot have diplomatic influence or dependable social security,” he said. “I want to make Japan’s presence felt in the world.” Continue reading Abe Wins Huge in Japan… and some thoughts on the coverage…→
On May 8, Japan’s government lodged a “strong protest” with the Chinese government over an article that had run in the People’s Daily in which two academics questioned the basis of Japan’s sovereignty over the Lewchew 琉球 (in Japanese, Ryukyu) islands. The Chinese side of course rejected the protest, and opinion columnists the world over have been weighingin. The current press furor has produced exciting developments in Lewchew’s main island of Okinawa, where in May 15 two professors have founded the “Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of Lew Chewans”. Already, there exists in Lewchew rising tensions between natives and nationalist Japanese, a latent history of cultural and linguistic abuse of Lewchewans, and a culture of protest upon which independence campaigners can piggyback. The only missing ingredient in this karmic tinderbox of anti-Japanese sentiment is international diplomatic support for Lewchewan separatists, which does not seem to be forthcoming from China. The Wall Street Journal soberly notes that “individual commentaries”, such as those in the People’s Daily, “don’t necessarily reflect the views of top political leaders, and Beijing officials on Wednesday gave little indication that the commentary represents a potential shift in policy.”