[LETTERS to the editor]Don’t let Japan rebuild its armyKoizumi’s cabinet is proposing legislation to create a real defense ministry, and thereby bid farewell to the existing Japan Defense Agency. Western experts say Japan is prepared to “accept a greater role in the world” because it possesses an army that is one of the most capable in the world and the political situation is stable. I do not think these are legitimate justifications for Japan to become militarily active again.
To start with, the Japanese do not seem to regret their imperialistic past and the atrocities committed during their colonialist period. The government has encouraged the distribution of school textbooks that glorify their imperialistic past while simply ignoring the protests of many nearby countries. Most Japanese are not even aware of the fact that they are brainwashed from childhood. The minority of those who try to speak the truth are oppressed by the government. Over the years, Japanese teachers who felt guilty teaching distorted history and taught the truth were fired for being “selfish.” Also, the Japanese government has been compelling powerful newspaper companies to suppress such information. This shows that they are still the Japan they used to be 60 years ago.
Moreover, to no one’s surprise, unrepentant Japan is still claiming land belonging to its neighbors. Japan has been doing a great job at blinding other countries with their fancy ODA because, it seems, no one seems to accuse “innocent” Japan of such acts apart from its neighboring victims. However, the fact remains that they have been trying to take advantage of their international reputation to take over nearby maritime exclusive economic zones by claiming Chinese and Korean islets.
Lastly, I fear this will start an arms race in Northeast Asia. Once Japan grants itself the right to attack and builds up its army, other countries like North Korea, South Korea and China will feel insecure. Neighboring countries will also build their armies and the vicious cycle will continue. Relations in the region will become more tense than they are already.
Japan’s lack of regret for its past and its unchanged imperialistic attitude has convinced me that Japanese imperialism will be reborn if they are freed from their [constitutional] straightjacket. The resulting arms race will threaten the security of the region. Western experts like Mr. Cronin and Mr. Auslin seem to welcome Japan’s rearmament. It is highly likely that they would feel differently if an unrepentant Germany were to announce rearmament.
by Koh Wan-gyu