Monday, August 22, 2005

A Review of VJ Day: Has Japan Really Been Born Again?


This August 15 was the 60th VJ day (end of war memorial day for Japanese). The media took up numerous debates on Japan from the postwar era to the future. Having seen these debates, I insist that Japanese leaders and citizens have a universal and absolute value in their foreign and domestic policies. People must keep it in mind that Japan in the post-Cold War era is the model of regime change. This is the only way in which Japan would play a leading role in the world as one of the key allies to the United States. All the Japanese foreign and domestic policy goals must be compatible with this premise. Otherwise, everything should be scrapped away.

Throughout the postwar period, Japanese people had been exploring how to prevent the rise of fascism again and win trust from the global community. People tend to talk about specific issues, like monarchy, national flag, anthem, Yasukuni shrine, pacifist constitution, wartime history, and relations with Asia. However, no one tried to show a grand design for postwar Japan. As a result, people wasted their energy on stupid debates.

Left-wingers blame monarchy, national flag, anthem, and Yasukuni shrine, for symbols of wartime fascism. They advocate pacifist constitution. Regarding wartime history and relations with Asia, leftists demand continual apology to Asian neighbors. On the other hand, ultra-rightists and neo-nationalists argue traditional values must be maintained whether they are related to wartime fascism or not.

In my opinion, these debates miss the fundamental point: whether Japan has really been born again after the war. More precisely, everything must be judged whether it is compatible with regime changes, currently on going throughout the world, and still in process in Japan. From this point of view, Japanese leaders and citizens can cut off the Gordian knot of all the foreign and domestic policy issues.

A born-again nation and the model of regime change, Japanese people must reconsider what the US-Japanese alliance is. No Japanese leaders doubt how important it is for Japan’s national security. However, most of them, particularly neo-nationalists and neo-realists, see the alliance just a strategic deal to defeat common threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

In my understanding, this is beyond military alliance. It is a manifestation of Japan’s wholehearted commitment to global democracy. Japan must play this vital role just as Britain does under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. From this point of view, I would suggest the followings to Japan.

(1) Full scale involvement in confronting terrorists and rogues
Japan has sent troops to Iraq. But this is just the first step toward further involvement. The alliance is evolving global. Japanese commitment must be beyond Asia-Pacific. Europe and the Middle East are also important for the US-Japanese strategic partnership.

(2) Membership of “Greater Europe”
At the end of Cold War, a conference for “Greater Europe, from Van Couver to Vladivostock”, was held. This should be extended to Tokyo. Japan shares global executive seat of liberal democracy with Europe and America, because, it is a vital ally to the United States. This makes Japan distinct from its Asian neighbors, like China and Korea.

(3) Eliminate all the domestic hurdles for the model of regime change
The postwar period was Phase I of regime change. Some sort of appeasement to ex-fascists had been necessary, because it was urgent to stabilize Japan during the Cold War. It is Phase II in the post-Cold War era. No one needs to hesitate to throw away some fascistic leaders. They simply damage Japan’s reputation in the world. Asians, particularly Chinese and Koreans, pursue psychological superiority over Japan, and try to split the US-Japanese alliance by blaming Japan’s wartime misconduct. This is their power politics.
Also, legal confinement of pacifist constitution must be swept away.

A forward-looking Japan like this, will be helpful a lot to world citizens. Keep it in mind that Japan is the model of regime change. All the policies must be based on this premise.