Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nagatacho Must Reconsider Japan’s Relations with Iran

As I mentioned before, Japanese leaders and citizens dismiss that horrific nature of current regime in Iran is utterly incompatible with our national identity. In view of this, the dietary debate between Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Dietman Takao Fujii of the Liberal Democratic Party, at the Budget Committee in the House of Councilors on March 26 is appalling. Both of them lauded Japan’s “friendship” with a communist Prime Minister Mohhamad Mossadegh during the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute. That means, they declared in public that they would stand up for Joseph Stalin against Sir Winston Churchill. Considering geopolitics of Iranian modern history, their remarks are absolutely reckless.

Let me narrate geopolitical history of Iran in the modern era. Iran has been an arena of Great Power clash since the 19th century. In the era of colonial imperialism, Britain and Russia competed there in the Great Game. During World War Ⅱ, the Allied Forces used Iran a military supply route for the Soviet Union. However, Stalin maintained Soviet military presence in northern Iran, even though the war had already ended. The Iran crisis in 1946 is the first case brought to United Nations Security Council, and with strong support by the United States and Britain, the imperial government of Iran succeeded in driving the Red Army out of its territory.

Considering such a critical position that Iran holds in great power rivalries, Mossadegh was too reckless to hint Soviet influences behind him. During the Anglo Iranian oil dispute, Japan did not follow sanction initiatives by Britain and America. Idemitsu Kosan sent a tanker to import oil from Iran through British naval blockade. However, that is not so glorious as Gemba and Fujii said in the diet. It was not Idemitsu that led to Japanese postwar recovery and economic miracle. Had the Mossadegh administration survived, it could have caused a domino effect of red nationalism throughout the Gulf region. Contrary to what Gemba and Fijii remarked in the House of Councilors, Japan was able to “free ride” stability in the Middle East from the 1950s to 1970s, and concentrate on being a “transistor radio sales man” to pursue economic growth, because the coup d’état by Britain and America succeeded to overthrow Mossadegh and re-throne the shah. We all understand that the shah's Iran provided global public goods of security in the Middle East as the Guard of the Persian Gulf, since then.

During the 1960 and the 70s, Japan had a friendly relation with the Pahlavi regime. The Iran Japan Petro Chemical project was agreed with the shah. We, Japanese, shall never be able to make a deal with neither communist Mossadegh nor Dark Age minded mullahs. Both Gemba and Fujii should rather quit the Democratic Party and the Liberal Democratic Party respectively, and join the Communist Party instead, as they expressed their favor of Stalin over Churchill. Strangely, there were no hecklers to such dreadful remarks at the Councilor session. Nagatacho politicians are utterly insensitive to Japan’s position in the Middle East, though it is a key member of Western democracies.

Also, we must remember that President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech was bitterly blamed in America because it was too apologetic to the CIA-MI6 coup d’état in the Anglo Iranian oil dispute. A real Iran-Japan friendship was achieved when Western educated elites took leadership in the shah’s regime. Many of them are now in exile in America and Europe. They act for freedom of their home land, along with Green Movement supporters in Iran. Therefore, I regard any kind of appeasement to current Shiite theocracy and praise of communist Mossadegh, which Gemba and Fujii remarked in the House of Councilors, is an insult and a betrayal to our real friends fighting against the evil regime.

As in the case of the Mossadegh regime, we must consider short term gains and long term loss to allow Iran’s misguided behavior. Regretfully, Japanese opinion leaders are preoccupied with short term surge of oil price, but history tells us that Chamberlainian pacifism will help the threat grow substantially in the long term. If we were to contain a nuclear ambitious Iran, we must manage various destabilizing activities, notably supporting terrorism, by the Shiite regime in Tehran (“Containing Iran will cost untold blood, treasure”; Jerusalem Post; March 18, 2012). That could be more costly than preemptive attack against Iran in the long term. A right understanding of history is a prerequisite for a right choice of policy. Nagatacho politicians must reconsider our national identity and modern history of Iran.