Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s real aim is to be able to provide unhindered support in U.S.-led military conflicts, following the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation. He has been pushing for Japan to become a “normal” country that actively makes military contributions and participates in war.
It is obvious, however, that the security policies rely on military force and do not contribute to peace. History provides a clear reminder of the faults of such policies.
The U.S. invited in a new terror threat by unjustly sacrificing many civilian lives in the Iraq War. Because the U.S. struggles with large military expenditures and the loss of international trust, it welcomes the enactment of this new legislation with open arms. Japan’s compliance is the best help it could have asked for. Regardless, it is both dangerous and foolish to run headfirst into cooperative policies without taking the Iraq War into consideration.
The Abe administration is vocal about the threat China’s growing military strength poses. It continues to clamor for the ability to deter attacks and continues to abandon efforts at dialogue and peace diplomacy. Mutual antagonism will only escalate China’s military expansion and is liable to destabilize the situation in Asia.
Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution throws aside war, creating an irreplaceable image for Japan as a nation that will remain neutral and never take a life. This image protects many NGOs and allows them to provide a wide variety of support to troubled areas, such as medicine and education. If the Japan Self-Defense Forces carry weapons and fight alongside the militaries of other countries, Japan will be seen as an enemy and the safety of those Japanese who provide support abroad will be in danger. It is very likely that this will only perpetuate the chain of hatred.
Last spring, in conjunction with security legislation, the Abe administration ended the Three Principles on Arms Exports ban. The government plans to establish a defense equipment agency in October. It will be an external bureau of the Defense Ministry and aim to ensure the efficient supply, development and export of weapons. Recently, the Japan Business Federation proposed that the government promote the export of defense equipment as a national strategy. Lending a willing hand to military expansion under the guise of proactive pacifism, however, is absolutely inexcusable.
For 20 years now, the international community has been advocating for a guarantee of human security, so a person’s livelihood and pride will be free from any threat that may attempt to steal them away, such as war and poverty. The military strength of a nation or the guarantee of security from an ally has come to be relied upon. The present security legislation goes against the trend of activities to which the UN has been central.
There are many challenges today, from terrorism — which has roots in problems like environmental destruction, poverty and discrimination — to the increase in refugees. It is therefore important to focus international efforts on mediating between disputing countries and to aim toward resolutions achieved with dialogue and assistance. If we invest large sums in medicine, environmental protection and education rather than weapons development and defense, we will become trustworthy partners and the possibility of attack will be reduced.
Japan does not need to become a “normal” country that can participate in war. It should promote peace and keep its irreplaceable image as a pacifist nation.