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[Editorial] Japanese Rearmament?

Posted August. 07, 2006 05:52,   


Japan’s “new leaders,” including chief cabinet secretary Shinzo Abe, are raising their voices that “Japan should exercise collective self-defense.”

In a press conference last week, Secretary Abe said, “Renouncing the right to collective self-defense which is allowed under the international law is like becoming an incompetent person.”

Finance minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said, “I wish to push ahead for a revision of the Constitution in a way that the right of collective self-defense is acknowledged.” Foreign minister Taro Aso argued, “What if the nation gets destroyed while we stick to the Constitution?”

As “a war criminal country” that started the Second World War in the Pacific, Japan enacted the Peace Constitution where it swore to “forever renounce war” as a sign of repentance. The Constitution (article 9) provides that land, sea, and air forces will never be maintained and that the right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized. The same holds true for the right to collective self-defense, the act of fighting back an armed attack against allies. Even Prime Minister Koizumi said, “The right of collective self-defense cannot be exercised unless the constitution is revised.”

However, new leaders who will shoulder the future of Japan are saying that they want to change Japan into “a nation that can wage a war.” Most countries around the world are reluctant to possess collective self-defense fearing that they might be embroiled in “a war of others.” Nonetheless, Japan’s new leaders are pursuing collective self-defense, making it hard to shed the ominous premonition for the future of the Northeast Asia. What comes to mind is a horrifying reemergence of a militant nation in Japan.

Already, Japan is going right at an accelerating pace. Reports have it that Prime Minister Koizumi will visit the Yasukuni Shrine once more before his retirement in this September. Secretary Abe who is a promising candidate to replace Koizumi turned out to have paid a visit to the shrine on April 15 already. China immediately expressed regret, but Japan seems not to care. One day, paying a visit to the shrine will become a routine.

From Imjin War to the Sino-Japanese War to the Russo-Japanese War to the War in the Pacific, each time, Japan was the main culprit in spreading the flames of war in Northeast Asia. If Japan is not to repeat that tragic history, it should not discard its Peace Constitution.