Monday, July 23, 2007

The Japanese Military and the Dangers of Militarism

There was a disturbing article in the New York Times today concerning
the expansion of the Japanese military's role in East Asia and the
Pacific. While the article really gave readers no serious idea of the
historical context of what it was talking about, the facts it reported,
that is, the present rightist LDP led Japanese government policy of
undermining Japan's postwar anti-militarist constitution and developing
"modern" warfare capabilities and skills, should be very disturbing
both to the people of China and other Asia-Pacific countries and to the
people of Japan, who have benefit hugely from their anti-militarist
constitution, which Times reporter Norimitsu Onishi refers to as "pacifist."

What is missing from Onishi's article is that the anti-militarist
constitution was drafted by the U.S. occupation authorities, who
controlled Japan entirely until their withdrawal at the beginning of the
Korean war. Unlike Germany, which was occupied by the US, the USSR,
Britain and France, and then divided into a U.S. supported capitalist
"West" and a Soviet supported socialist "East," neither Britain, which
was also at war with Japan and saw its captured soldiers suffer
atrocities at the hands of the Japanese imperialists, nor the Soviet
Union, which entered the war against Japan in its last days and
liberated Manchuria and Korea from the Japanese army, participated in
the occupation and reconstruction of Japan.

Unlike the cold war in Europe, where U.S. strategy was to re-arm West
Germany and bring it into the NAT0 alliance that the U.S. largely
created to fight a potential WWIII against the Soviet Union and its
allies in Europe(and also to undermine the then very powerful French and
Italian Communist parties by putting their countries into an
anti-Communist military alliance) U.S. strategy in Asia was to
"demilitarize" Japan so that Japan could never again be a serious rival
to U.S. corporate-government longterm imperialist interests in
controlling the trade and investment future of the Asia-Pacific
region(the U.S. and Japan and been economic-political and potential
military rivals fighting for control of the region, particularly China,
since the end of the nineteenth century).

Also, and this is very important, the great majority of the Japanese
people had repudiated the militarist regime which had led them into a
disastrous war that had devastated their country and wanted nothing to
do with the grotesque synthesis of feudal warrior ideology, emporer
cult, and "modern" weapons technologies and geopolitical policy thinking
that had characterized prewar and wartime Japanese imperialism.

Furthermore, the Japanese capitalist syndicates like Mitsubishi who had
profited from the militarist regime soon found out that they could
profit even more from a Japanese state that provided them with enormous
subsidies that enabled them to develop automobile, consumer electronics,
and other industries that made huge advances in global markets rather
than produce military goods for the Japanese state paid for by Japanese
taxpayers. Ironically, a U.S. policy aimed originally at removing Japan
as a competitor for the trade and investment power that is that is the
economic foundation for all imperialist policies helped make Japanese
corporations into a much more effective competitor to U.S.
corporations,which lived off and continue to live off their enormous
military contracts while they eventually lost out to companies like
Toyota(which has surpassed General Motors as the leading Automobile
producer in the world).

But a potential revival of Japanese militarism concerns much more than
the U.S. government today--indeed both the present Abe government like
its immediate predecessor sees the development of military power
"commensurate" with Japanese economic power as leading Japan into a
strategic "partnership" with the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific
region. Such a "partnership" or alliance would of course be aimed at
China, which suffered over ten million dead and millions more casualties
in the Second World War at the hands of Japanese imperialism, second
only to the Soviet Union(albeit a very distant second) in the loss of
human life in WWII or for that matter any war in human history.
Although China would of be the primary target of any U.S. Japanese
military alliance in Asia, Korea, both North and South, has much to fear
from such a development also. Korea suffered brutal oppression and
repression under Japanese militarist rule when it, with the acquiescence
of the U.S. ruling class became a Japanese colony following the
Japanese Empire's victory against the Czarist Russian empire in the
Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The Bush administration has since it
came to power done everything in its power to demonize North Korea and
undermine improved relations between the two Koreas. Whereas U.S. cold
warriors liked to say during the Korean War that Korea was a dagger
pointed at Japan(a Japan they controlled at the time) and thus could not
be "permitted" to fall into Communist hands(or unified for that matter,
regardless of the wishes of its people) in reality Japan in modern
history has been a "dagger" pointed at Korea and a redefinition of and
expansion of Japanese military power would threaten Korea, potentially
the Philippines, and the entire Asia-Pacific region, whether it is in
alliance with or opposed to U.S. policy.

Japanese imperialists before WWII often dreamed of becoming the "England
of Asia," that is a great naval and military power at the center of a
great colonial empire. U.S. imperialist planners and their Japanese
counterparts may today "dream" of a Japan that will act in Asia the war
Tony Blair's Britain has acted in the world, that is, as a political
military handmaiden of U.S. policy, ready to go in force anywhere and
everywhere that the U.S. government wishes.

That is against the interests of the people of the Japanese people, the
American people, and the peoples of Asia. Imperialist military alliance
systems are, not corporate marketing agreements against competitors,
always unstable, as the powers, like the corporations, are quick to
double cross one another when they have opportunities to gain greater
profits or a more advantageous strategic position. One doesn't have to
read or reread Lenin's Imperialism(never a bad idea and more important
today than when the Soviet Union existed) to understand that the
imperialism that today goes by the name of "globalization" produces more
militarization and military alliances and conflicts that make war and
eventual world war more not less likely.

The undermining of Japan's anti-militarist by the Abe government and the
potential dangers that stem from a re militarized Japan in the
Asia-Pacific region are further reasons for the Japanese people to
repudiate the anti-working class Abe government in the upcoming
Japanese parliamentary elections. This after all is a government which
has sought to both deny or at the very least blur the crimes committed
by Japanese imperialism both before and during WWII while at the same
time turning a blind eye to the disasters and suffering that militarist
polices brought on the Japanese people--as if to hint(as an old U.S.
WWII song went)," we did before and we can do it again." The answer to
that kind of thinking, of course, is "never again," which in Japan today
means defeating the Abe government, and the Liberal Democratic Party of
Japan(which is also a "legacy" of the U.S. occupation, in that it is
neither liberal, democratic or even so much of a party but a group of
conservative factions and machines connected to Japanese corporations
and conservative agricultural interests) in the coming elections.


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