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Tuesday, February 14, 2012
As the tension between Iran and the West over the Strait of Hormuz is growing increasingly intensified, Japanese opinion leaders argue that long and deep rooted Japanese-Iranian friendship will be helpful to mediate both sides. But considering tremendous differences in the nature of the regime, Iran and Japan are utterly incompatible. The Iranian Revolution happened in complete denial of Western styled secular enlightenment to drive this country back to the Dark Age, as Shiite mullahs ousted modernist Pahlavi regime. It is very well known that Iran’s nation building under Reza Shah Ⅰ modeled after the Meiji Revolution in Japan, and the Islamic Revolution defies this.
Before mentioning how Japanese leaders view Iran, let me talk about fundamental difference in national foundation ideology between Iran and Japan. Since the collapse of the Tokugawa regime, Japan’s national value has been based on the philosophy of enlightenment endorsed by Yukichi Fukuzawa and Arinori Mori. This has helped Japan to evolve from the Meiji modernization to the Taisho democracy and the postwar regime change. Just as the Weimar democracy prevailed in Germany during the interwar era, Japan had a solid foundation of liberal society in the same period. The occupational rule by Douglas McArthur was just a catalyst to help Japanese democracy grow. Japanese people enthralled humanity and rationality from Dark Age feudalism through learning the essence of Western Renaissance, while Asian neighbors slept. It is a universally accepted understanding that the Renaissance is the greatest achievement in human civilization. It is this core value that placed Japan in the league of “civilized nations” along with Western great powers, not emulation of their way of life. In his well known book, “Gakumon no Susume (An Encouragement of Learning)”, Fukuzawa says “A student of Western civilization can learn the essence of it, while eating mugimeshi (a bowl of rice mixed with wheat, which was a typical diet among Japanese peasants in those days)”. Considering such modern spirit, there is no wonder why postwar regime change was so successful in Japan.
On the other hand, the theocracy regime in Iran is founded on Dark Age ideology, believing in witchcraft, enchantment, fanaticism, and religious authoritarianism. In other words, the Iranian Revolution defies Japanese way of nation building. The shah’s regime may have been illiberal, but it was enlightenment despotism. Quite regretfully, Iran has devolved by the revolution, instead of evolving into Western styled democracy. This country has stepped into the path which is completely opposite to those in Japan and Germany. Vandalism of the US embassy hostage crisis in 1979 is an inevitable consequence of such horrific nature of the Shiite rule. Tehran’s ultimate objective is to export the revolution. For fear of this, Arab nations including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran Iraq War, even though they understood the danger of Ba’athist ideology.
Current regime in Iran so dreadful that I can hardly understand why Japan should maintain “long term friendship” with this country and act independently of the West. In terms of ideology and regime type, Iran is an enemy to Japan. Also, Iran is a member of the Axis of Evil that sponsors terrorists and arms itself to threaten world peace. The Pahlavi Iran was a pride of Japan along with Kemalist Turkey. We are deadly humiliated as the Islamic Revolution has driven Iran back to Middle Age lunacy. Japanese elites are utterly wrong to assume that “long term friendship” with such a rogue regime be maintained. Regretfully, the Ohira administration failed to understand their love of violence, lunatic passion, and repression as opposed to ours of rationalism, humanism, and freedom. Dominated by passive pacifism and economy supremacism in the postwar era, the Japanese government was obsessed with continuing the Iran Japan Petro Chemical Project, while Western allies demanded Japan to pressure with them for the hostage crisis. Later, Japan abandoned the business deal with the regime of fanaticism and hatred when the project was cancelled, and it made a huge loss. This is the reality of the "long term friendship" between Iran and Japan. Strangely enough, leftists hardly denounce business with terrorist states like Iran, though they love to attack corporate greed. Leftwing aversion to big businesses is not conscientious at all.
In view of tremendous gap in values of national foundation and tragic history of bilateral relations after the fall of the shah, Japanese establishment needs to be more alert of Iranian threats. The Iran nuclear issue was discussed in the dietary debate on foreign relations at the Budget Committee of the House of Councilors on January 31. However, questions by opposition parties at the session were appalling. The most terrible one is a confusion of Iranian and Israeli nuclear weapons. Masayoshi Hamada of the New Komeito Party remarked as if Iran and Israel were the same degree of problem in Middle East security. However, we have keep in mind the following points. Most importantly, Iran has a broad range of network with terrorists from Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Today, the most critical issue of nonproliferation is terrorist ties with nuclear possessing states. In addition, we have to note that Iran’s nuclear arsenals are offensive, while those of Israel are defensive. Ultimately, the Shiite regime of Iran aims at exporting the revolution throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, and they need a great power status by acquiring nuclear weapons for this objective. If Israel is the primary reason for the nuclear project, why did Iran demonstrate its capability to launch Navid satellite this February (“Iran Reports Launch of Small Satellite into Orbit”; Sci-Tech Today; February 6, 2012)? This implies Iran’s missile can go beyond Israel. Where do they target? London? Paris? New York? Or, Washington DC? Finally, I would like to point out that Middle East nations are more scared of Iranian nuclear threats than those of Isreal. Nonproliferation experts worry the potential of nuclear acquisition of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and some Gulf emirates. They would be arming against Iran, not Israel. Hamada dismissed the above points at the House of Councilors, which makes me suspicious of anti-Semitist influence on the New Komeito Party.
I would like to mention another question at the same session. Though Yoichi Masuzoe of the New Renaissance Party stressed the necessity of China’s cooperation to deal with Iran, we must remember that China does not share our vision of world peace. China cherishes dangerous military ambition over Iran, beyond hunger for oil. China helps Iran make advanced anti-ship cruise missile (“Inside the Ring --- China-Iran Missile Sales”; Washington Times; November 2, 2011). In addition to military technology assistance, Michael Singh, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, warns that China explores to have a naval base in Iran to dominate the sea lane east of Suez (“China's Iranian Gambit”; Foreign Policy; October 31, 2011). As in the case of North Korea, we Western democracies include China into the six party talk, not because they are our partners sharing common values and security interests, but because we must prevent them from ruining our efforts. It is our position to watch China’s behavior, not solicit their cooperation over Iran. I do not understand why an ex-professor of Tokyo University like Masuzoe showed such a lukewarm understanding on China.
The effect of tightening sanctions was a key issue at the session. But we have to remember that sanctions are beyond economy rationality and used as a political message for pressure. Tougher sanctions would be warning signals for preemptive attack against Iran, if it were to defy our demand. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba replied calmly and logically to questions by the opposition, but to my regret, he did not show the slightest recognition of the vital and fundamental fact that Iran is an ideological enemy to Japan. A comment from non-governmental sector is also important to understand how Japanese establishment views Iran. NHK’s anchorman Kensuke Ogoshi argues that Japan make use of “long term friendship” with Iran, in order to meddle the Shiite theocracy and the West as in the case of Myanmar. But it is utterly wrong to confuse Myanmar with Iran. While Myanmar is isolated, Iran is allied with terrorists and other autocracies. This is the vital reason why policymakers in America and Europe are critically concerned with Iran. Does he still dare to say that Japan act independently of our “long term democratic allies”, and make friends with an evil regime? Hearing his naïve comment on Iran, I wonder whether he really was in Washington before coming back to Tokyo to serve as an anchorman.
Apparently, regarding relations with Iran, Japanese establishment simply pursue business interests without considering our foundation of ideology and regime. It is often said that nations can pursue mutually beneficial economic growth beyond ideology and regime. Actually, this phrase is the fatalest honey trap by autocracies. They aim at maximizing their survival at the expense of democracies. Japanese elites are obsessed with the economy so much that they often dismiss intolerantly evil nature of repressive states. It appears to me that their vision of the world has not changed substantially since French President Charles de Gaulle ridiculed Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda a “transistor radio salesman” in the 1960s. They are completely unaware of our national identity. Should Japan really maintain such empty friendship with Iran? Definitely no! It is our interest to wipe out a Dark Age regime. We Japanese share common policy goals with Americans, Europeans, Israelis, and most importantly, Iranian citizens who stood against theocracy in the Green Movement. As tougher sanctions are required, and eventually, preemptive attack is seriously considered, we must be well prepared to defeat the ambition of Shiite Hitler, with Churchillian determination. Iran is a regime of killer, murderer, oppressor, terrorist, fanaticist, and megalomania. This is the vital reason why they are proliferating nuclear weapons. The Hostage Crisis in 1979 reveals inherent nature of horrible regime in Tehran. As a Fukuzawa-Mori modernist nation, they are intolerable for us. As a civic activist, I humbly implore Japanese establishment to be more aware of our national values and inherent evilness of Iranian autocracy.