2007-07-23

How I learned to be not troubled by the re-militarization of Japan

It is not because I know that most people in Japan are peace-loving, or that Japan is a democracy or things like that.

The Weimar Republic was a democracy, so is the USA. (caveat here) The people in USA are definitely mostly peace-loving and benevolent, anyone who studied the history of the last century knows how USA has saved the world, twice. But look at what a mess it has created in Iraq today.

India is said to be the largest democracy in this world, look at how many wars it fought against Pakistan, how Sikkim, Goa, and the Andaman Isles were annexed, and how it detonated a nuke with no provacation or threat.

Now back to Japan. Read this IHT coverage of its remilitarisation.

Japan has accumulated the the economic power and the technology such that it can modernize militarize in just a few years whenever it wants to (or it has already done so), perhaps even faster that how Hitler has militarized Germany in the early 1930s.

The reason I think we should not worry about Japan's re-militarization is as below
  • If it wants to build an aggressive force. It can always do it in a few years
  • If it is doing it too early before it acts, the chances are that these resources are most likely wasted (as I explained in an earlier post regarding China), and be turned into obselete equipment in the future. Less than optimized timing in investment in military often lead to less than optimal deployment of resources, and hence affect its over economic progress (and generalized "power" per Paul Kennedy), a la USSR in 1970-80s

For years Japan has been able to flourish under the umbrella of US protection. Let it waste its resources if it chooses to do so. The gap between Japan and its neighbour is much narrower than it was in 1937 or 1941. Moreover, it is very unlikely that US would let Japan bully around.

Yes, there is concern on Japan's re-militarization, but the country that should most worry about Japan should be the one which has been most active in encouraging it to do so, because that country has humiliated Japan 62 years ago and nuked two of its cities. If you watch the pop arts (manga, animation, movie) you will understand why this is so.

What we really need to take out from Japan is, its enormous stockpile of Uranium and Plutonium, and make sure that US has the ability and the reason to "contain" Japan when it went out of control (i.e. to the right wing such as Isihara).

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read the linked film review on your post. Admittedly, I am not a follower on Japan's current mass media. I do doubt your assertion that there is a salient anti-America mood among Japanese populace. Some right-wing politicians, yes; mass population, I don't know.

Could you elaborate on this point?

Sun Bin said...

anon,

i do not think your gut feeling contradicts with what i have seens.
1) it is not salient, but maybe some hidden sentiment, among some
2) it certainly extends beyond what we would traditionally classify as right-wing, as it is ubiquitous in many pop culture -- against how much beyond i do not know. see this video on potsdam

part 1:”http://youtube.com/watch?v=2BDlyCiuhTo”
part 2:”http://youtube.com/watch?v=_RNUqFFXWOA”
this video is a lighter touch and does not really reflect the WWII-bitterness. but it can be interpreted either way.

there are thousands of such in japanese pop culture, in between this and lorelei.

3) OTOH, i can fully understand why there is such sentiment. after all, it is a major humiliation and a-bomb victim and that. As long as the common understanding is that WWII was just a war that they lost and the lesson was that it was a strategic/military mistake of Japan (not moral or political mistake), it is then just natural that there is such inclination.

Anonymous said...

You may want to add the following comment on your recommended reading:

http://tinyurl.com/3yqcsk

Pity ESWN won't translate such insightful article into English. (I can't find any comparable analysis in English-speaking media. Only third-rate conspiracy theory fills the vacuum). On the other hand, I do doubt how many "western" readers would appreciate such forceful deconstruction of international affairs.

Sun Bin said...

that article is too long. you may want to summarize it into some key points.:)

88 said...

There is some anti-American sentiment in Japan, but I think it is relatively minor compared to other countries.

>> i can fully understand why there is such sentiment. after all, it is a major humiliation and a-bomb victim and that.

That is one way to look at it. But maybe they might consider blaming the Japanese fascists for the humiliation and defeat of Japan. They did invade a good number of Asian countries and attack the US without provocation. Some people might see a double standard here: the US should be blamed for attacking Iraq and creating a mess there, but Japan is a "victim" because the US defeated it after Japan started a much more serious war allied with Nazis, attacking and invading various countries.

So Japan invades countries and performs biological experiments and mass rapes on civilian populations and the US is at fault for defeating them and "humiliating" Japan? I completely agree that some Japanese view history this way -- but don't you think it is a just a little warped?

Sun Bin said...

it is warped. but that is the reality. and the source of such reality is from the japanese education/propaganda, which is still stuck with where germany was in the weimar era.

in almost every japanese i talked to, their view of WWII is that of 'result determinism' (成王敗寇).

the shame is that many in the US do not think there is any problem with such view, or not realize the how fundamentally important this is.

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