[EDITORIALS]Powerful, Forgetful JapanThe Upper House of Japan's parliament Tuesday approved a controversial bill to allow the country's military to go abroad to support the U.S.-led war on terrorism. It was legislation that would bring significant changes to the country's national security principles of self-defense. With passage of the bill, Article 9 of Japan's constitution, which renounces war and bans the use of military force as a means of settling international disputes, has effectively been scrapped.
To send the Self-Defense Forces of Japan, already the world's second-biggest military power, abroad will raise concern among neighboring countries, including South Korea and China, and incite an arms race among countries in the region. After World War II, the United States and its allies imposed a pacifist constitution on Japan because Japan provoked the war and committed huge atrocities on its neighbors and mankind. The constitution was to prevent Japan from repeating crimes in the future.
We do not deny Japan's logic that it should play a political role befitting its economic might in the international community. In order to do so, however, Japan should have made sufficient apologies and expressed contrition for its wartime atrocities. Without righting the wrongs of its past, Japan has been emphasizing damages it suffered during the war and causing tensions with neighboring countries by whitewashing its aggression. It is a shallow trick to capitalize on the anti-terrorism sentiment in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in order to push for its rearmament. Also worrisome is the fact that this time, Japan's civic organizations did not protest as strongly as they did in the past.
Seoul must recognize that Japan's rearmament does not help matters for Korea's national security and stability in East Asia. We must send Japan a clear warning that Tokyo's attempt to amend its peace constitution or become a military power will hurt reconciliation in Asia.