Column: Far East Realpolitik
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 01:10
After I criticized the Japanese historical management on Sept. 12, there have been additional relevant events in Japan. First, Japan successfully launched a solid-fuel rocket, called Epsilon. Second, Secretary John Kerry and Chuck Hagel openly endorsed the Japanese move toward amending the constitution. I’m deeply frustrated with this U.S. foreign policy in Far East Asia.
The Western press failed to raise concerns about possible misuse of the solid-fuel technology—which is the very same technology for the ICBM. Yet the U.S. government has strongly objected to South Korea’s development of satellite rocket technology—for the very same reason that I’m concerned about the Japanese rocket. Japan is not facing any real threat from outside, except maybe North Korea. South Korea, on the other hand, has been dealing with direct threats from the un-ended Korean War, and has respected the bilateral agreements between Washington and Seoul for limited military technology development.
The same policy is not sufficient for Japan. The Shinzo Abe administration has tried to change the pacific constitution, inherited from the cause of the Pacific War, to expand its passive military role to an active one. Long story short, the revisionist Abe administration wants to become the military hegemon in the region. As I explained in the Sept. 12 column, such a move is concerning without a proper war redemption-seeking effort, which should’ve been made post-1945, because history repeats itself.
On Oct. 4, the U.S. government publically endorsed the newly expanded “collective self-defense” of Japan, which will abandon the current pacific Peace Clause 9 that prevents potential warring military action. Because of the way Adolf Hitler dominated the country, Germans constructed their constitution with various political safety devices that made changing the constitutional interpretation virtually impossible. In fact, German participation in the war in Afghanistan is reluctant, according to its collective self-defense with NATO, while Japan has been waiting for a request from the U.S. government to expand its military role in Far East Asia.
Before expressing my frustration, I understand the strategic U.S. endorsement. As the current defense budget has become burdensome, the U.S. is trying to borrow the hands of Japan to check the growing Chinese power and its uncertainty around North Korea. Japan has been an active supporter of the U.S. Missile Defense campaign in the Far East. In the Japanese perspective, such collective self-defense with the U.S. military is a win-win strategy. Even if the nation-state admitted its war crimes and recognized its past—to the historical part China also agrees, as they warned the Japanese against further worship of the war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine—such a revisionist attempt is naturally alarming to its neighbors, politically speaking.
The Japanese political movement on amending the constriction only sounds superficially peaceful. South Korea withdrew thousands of U.S. nuclear warheads out of the peninsula due to the joint declaration between Seoul and Pyongyang on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in 1992, and the South has been willing to bind to the policy line despite the nuclear development of the North. Antithetical to what Abe said, the expansion of the military role can’t be pacific, logically, especially when Japan is still involved with territorial disputes with Russia, China, Taiwan, and South Korea since the Pacific War.
I don’t see any political justice when the U.S. hasn’t questioned any of Japan’s improper historical management under its national interest. Well, that’s the exact reason I’m so frustrated to study international relations—the “right thing to do” isn’t always there in international politics. The “world police” haven’t been objective.