En­hance in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to guard peace

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Aug. 15 this year marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II.

We should take this oc­ca­sion to of­fer silent, sin­cere prayers for the re­pose of the souls of more than 3 mil­lion peo­ple who per­ished against their will in that ter­ri­ble con­flict, while re­new­ing our re­solve for peace.

Mayor Tomi­hisa Taue of Na­gasaki, in a peace dec­la­ra­tion he is­sued on Aug. 9, made ref­er­ence to the se­cu­rity-re­lated bills, stat­ing, “There is wide­spread un­ease and con­cern that ... the peace­ful ide­ol­ogy of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Ja­pan (is) now wa­ver­ing.” He went on to say, “I urge the gov­ern­ment and the Diet to lis­ten to these voices of un­ease and con­cern ... and con­duct care­ful and sin­cere de­lib­er­a­tions.”

Bills Mis­un­der­stood

The set of se­cu­rity-re­lated bills cen­ter­ing around endorsement of the ex­er­cise of Ja­pan’s right of col­lec­tive self-de­fense is aimed at en­sur­ing Ja­pan’s peace and se­cu­rity through strength­en­ing de­fense co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Self-De­fense Forces oth­ers.

It is re­gret­table that the bills’ aim has been taken as mean­ing the ex­act op­po­site.

Ja­pan in the past 70 years has never been in­volved in any war, in­clud­ing the pe­riod of Cold War be­tween East and West and the postCold War days.

This record was not achieved sim­ply by the grace of the paci­fism based on the con­sti­tu­tion.

Of greater sig­nif­i­cance are ef­forts to found the SDF in 1954 to up­grade the coun­try’s de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties in a way bet­ter suited to the chang­ing times, and to re­vise in 1960 the Ja­pan-U.S. se­cu­rity treaty to steadily strengthen the bi­lat­eral al­liance.

The Ja­pan-U.S. al­liance has now been broadly rec­og­nized as an in­ter­na­tional public good con­ducive to sta­bi­liz­ing the Asian re­gion as a whole.

Ex­am­ples il­lus­trat­ing the cru­cial im­por­tance of mil­i­tary might and de­ter­rent power for the sake of de­fend­ing a coun­try’s ter­ri­tory and its pop­u­lace are in­nu­mer­able in­deed, in­clud­ing the Korean War, the in-

(SDF) and U.S. forces and cur­sion by the for­mer Soviet Union into Afghanistan, the in­va­sion of Kuwait by Iraq and Rus­sia’s in­va­sion of Ge­or­gia.

A belief that peace can be se­cured merely by de­sir­ing “peace for all time” and “trust­ing in the jus­tice and faith of the peace-lov­ing peo­ples of the world” as stip­u­lated in the pre­am­ble of the con­sti­tu­tion is no bet­ter than an ide­al­is­tic the­ory that dis­re­gards the harsh re­al­i­ties of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

Be­fore the war, Ja­pan with­drew from the League of Na­tions, which was grop­ing for ways of ma­te­ri­al­iz­ing the ideal of col­lec­tive se­cu­rity, de­lib­er­ately shat­ter­ing the world or­der at that time.

Af­ter the war, this county, be­cause of soul-search­ing about that wartime past, placed ex­ces­sively strict con­straints on the ac­tiv­i­ties of the SDF.

There can be no deny­ing that many Ja­panese, de­pen­dent on the United States for the na­tion’s se­cu­rity pol­icy while blessed with peace and pros­per­ity un­der the U.S.-led in­ter­na­tional or­der, have been apt to drift into a state of be­ing un­able to think about what should be done to se­cure the coun­try’s peace and se­cu­rity.

Record of Trust

The turn­ing point came with the 1991 Gulf War. The SDF was dis­patched af­ter the fight­ing ended to con­duct minesweeping oper­a­tions and has since been in­volved in U.N. peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions.

The SDF built up a solid track record and steadily earned the trust of other na­tions.

The new se­cu­rity-re­lated leg­is­la­tion, which will ex­pand the in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties of the SDF, is an ex­ten­sion of this.

As well as rec­ti­fy­ing the pre­vi­ously over­cau­tious in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion, Ja­pan must play its part as a na­tion will­ing to sup­port the new in­ter­na­tional or­der and ful­fill an ap­pro­pri­ate level of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The United Na­tions, which will mark the 70th an­niver­sary of its found­ing in Oc­to­ber, is prone to dys­func­tion for rea­sons in­clud­ing the veto power held by the five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

It is of­ten a stretch to say the United Na­tions is ef­fec­tively play­ing a role in re­solv­ing in­ter­na­tional dis­putes.

At present, China is trum­pet­ing its self-right­eous logic in the East China and South China seas, where it is at­tempt­ing to change the sta­tus quo through force.

Rus­sia is do­ing the same in Ukraine. Both of these na­tions, backed up by their mas­sive mil­i­tary might, ig­nore in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism of their be­hav­ior.

For Ja­pan, China’s mil­i­tary buildup and mar­itime ex­pan­sion are se­ri­ous prob­lems.

If China’s de­fense bud­get con­tin­ues to grow at its cur­rent pace, in five years it will be more than four times the size of Ja­pan’s de­fense bud­get; a decade from now, it will be al­most seven times the size.

North Korea pos­sesses sev­eral hun­dred bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can reach Ja­pan.

The threat of ter­ror­ism is spread­ing, as ex­em­pli­fied by the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant ex­trem­ist group.

To en­sure Ja­pan re­mains safe from these threats, it is es­sen­tial to pass the se­cu­rity bills into law and strengthen mul­ti­lay­ered co­op­er­a­tion with the United States, Aus­tralia and na­tions in Europe and South­east Asia.

Diplo­macy and mil­i­tary af­fairs are closely con­nected with each other and form a com­ple­men­tary pair.

Mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the SDF to pro­vide a seam­less re­sponse to any sit­u­a­tion will help pre­vent con­flict from erupt­ing and pro­vide back­ing to sup­port peace­ful diplo­macy that sta­bi­lizes the re­gion.

Crit­ics in some quar­ters have claimed the se­cu­rity-re­lated bills will “make Ja­pan a na­tion that can once again wage war” and “re­turn the na­tion to the pre­war days.” These as­ser­tions can only be de­scribed as twisted in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

Ja­pan Firmly Paci­fist

Mod­ern-day Ja­pan is de­ci­sively dif­fer­ent from pre­war Ja­pan in sev­eral ways.

Now, Ja­pan stands staunchly by the paci­fism en­shrined in the con­sti­tu­tion, re­jects ag­gres­sion and ter­ri­to­rial ex­pan­sion, and at­taches great weight to in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion. Civil­ian con­trol of the SDF re­mains firmly in place.

Al­low­ing the ex­er­cise of the right of col­lec­tive self-de­fense, as stip­u­lated in the new se­cu­rity-re­lated bills, and ex­pand­ing the SDF’s hu­man­i­tar­ian and re­con­struc­tion sup­port ac­tiv­i­ties over­seas and the lo­gis­tic sup­port it can pro­vide to mil­i­tary forces of other na­tions, will all help re­in­force in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity.

This is pre­cisely why the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of na­tions — with the no­table ex­cep­tions of China and South Korea, which have rifts with Ja­pan over per­cep­tions of history — highly re­gard and sup­port the con­tent of the leg­is­la­tion.

Na­tions have ex­tremely high ex­pec­ta­tions for the “proac­tive con­tri­bu­tion to peace based on the prin­ci­ple of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion” put for­ward by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

The prime min­is­ter should re­dou­ble his ef­forts to ex­plain the sig­nif­i­cance and ne­ces­sity of the se­cu­rity-re­lated bills to the public and gain greater un­der­stand­ing of the leg­is­la­tion. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished by The Yomi­uri Shim­bun on Aug.15.

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