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2008年12月20日 (土)


(Mainichi Japan) December 19, 2008

Japan needs to think for itself, instead of blindly following U.S.


The Self-Defense Forces (SDF) safely completed its mission with no losses, giving testament to the Japan-U.S. alliance and winning the appreciation of the United States. I may be so bold as to disagree, however, that this can be held up as a success for Japan, notwithstanding the fact that SDF personnel served with discipline and devotion. I say so because we have come this far with nothing to say about our involvement in the Iraq War, except for the line that following the strong (i.e. the U.S.) is in our national interests.


Unreasonable arguments have gone unchallenged over these five years. When the Nagoya High Court found the Air Self-Defense Force's (ASDF) airlift missions in Iraq to be unconstitutional, Toshio Tamogami, the ASDF's chief of staff at the time, laughed off the ruling saying, "That has nothing to do with us." Top uniformed officers disdain the administration of justice while the government looks on with indifference as the Diet regards Iraq and Afghanistan as nothing more than props on the political stage. There has never been a time when the security debate was treated this lightly.


In a pervasive mood of anything goes, society has slipped out of joint. How many people really took notice of the SDF personnel who were sweating in Samawah and Baghdad?


Japan's political leaders have been closemouthed. There has been no serious discussion about whether anything can justify a military intervention in Iraq that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. There has been no expression of regret or remorse regarding the mistaken intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. After deciding to flatter the strong, most Japanese took Iraq to be someone else's problem and settled into a state of Iraq amnesia.


Nevertheless, the world has over these five years struggled to overcome the negative legacy of the Iraq War -- namely, how to secure the coexistence of Western society and Islamic society, on top of the spread of terrorism. The U.S., which caused this situation, has learned that problems cannot be solved with military might alone. With the coming of a multipolar age including China, India, Russia and the European Union, the search for a new world order has begun.


The half-century long alliance with the land of Uncle Sam is a valuable asset in Japan's diplomacy. More often than not, however, excessive reliance upon the U.S., with no attempt made to learn about the true situation in the outside world except through the prism of the United States, obscures what is really happening in the world. Japan can no longer even determine its place in all the crises -- from finance to energy, the global environment to food -- based solely on the scales of the Japan-U.S. alliance.


The form of support in Afghanistan will likely be the next matter to come under question for Japan's diplomacy. The administration of President-elect Barack Obama, which has adopted "new alliances" and the "rebuilding of alliances" as slogans, will certainly start off ready to listen, asking Japan for its ideas. Japan, for its part, needs to start by thinking on its own how it can contribute to peace in the region. The only thing it must not do is to repeat the folly of neglecting to think and simply going along with the narrow-minded theory of national interests that recommends following the strong. (By Hiroshi Komatsu, Deputy Managing Editor, Mainichi Shimbun)


毎日新聞 20081218日 東京朝刊


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