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2008年11月 2日 (日)


The Yomiuri Shimbun(Nov. 2, 2008)

ASDF's Tamogami neglected duties

空幕長更迭 立場忘れた軽率な論文発表(112日付・読売社説)

It was an extremely thoughtless act, committed by someone who forgot his position as the top Air Self-Defense Force officer.


The government has dismissed ASDF Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami over an essay he wrote in which he said Japan should not have been described as an aggressor country in connection with the war in China and World War II.


The Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso has backed the official statement released in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama stating that "Japan inflicted tremendous damage and suffering on Asian and other countries through its colonial rule and aggression."


Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that it was highly improper for a person in Tamogami's capacity as ASDF chief to publicly express an opinion so obviously at odds with the government's position. Removing him was a natural course of action for the government.


The government acted decisively by dismissing Tamogami immediately after the content of his essay was made public. This was possibly because the government hoped to minimize the potential negative effects of the essay on Diet deliberations and relationships with neighboring countries.



Essay ill-thought-out

Tamogami's essay was submitted to a contest organized by a private company and was awarded the grand prize. Its author repeatedly tried to justify Japan's colonial rule before World War II and during what this newspaper refers to as the Showa War, which includes the Manchurian Incident, the Sino-Japanese War and the war between Japan and the United States.


In his essay, Tamogami described Japan as a "victim" that was drawn into the Sino-Japanese War by Chiang Kai-shek, who led the Chinese Nationalist Party. But, when we look at the war as a whole, it cannot be denied that the war was caused by Japan's aggression.


Tamogami also states definitively in the essay that the Japan-U.S. war started because Japan was caught in a "trap" carefully set by the United States.


The essay includes lots of factual errors and views that many historians do not support. It is ill-thought-out.


As historical perception, in the final analysis, shares common ground with freedom of thought and belief, individuals are free to arrive at their own historical perception about the Showa War.


But Tamogami held one of the top posts in the Self-Defense Forces. If it is the case that he failed to realize that publishing an essay that contradicted the government's position could cause a serious problem, then we have serious doubts about his fitness for the post in the first place.



Brass need education

The essay also brought up important issues, such as the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, an action banned under the government's current constitutional interpretation, and the restriction on the usage of weapons by SDF personnel. But the fact that Tamogami referred to these issues in the context of an essay makes his arguments unpersuasive.


Why did nobody check such a problematic essay before it was released? As things stand, the trust of the Japanese public and other countries in the SDF could be shaken.


To prevent a recurrence of such a situation, the Defense Ministry needs to strengthen education and personnel management for uniformed SDF brass. This essay by a top SDF officer could also stir controversy over whether civilian control of the SDF remains intact.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 2, 2008)

20081120216  読売新聞)


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