[Marxism] Japan, Article 9, and the US-Japan Military Alliance

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Fri Jul 14 00:01:11 MDT 2006

On 7/13/06, Lajany Otum <lajany_otum at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> There is more than symbolism involved in the right's salute
> the imperial past. The leading figures of the LDP, Koizumi, Nakasone
> and their predecessors, have been determined to effect a deep and
> long lasting cultural and political change in Japanese society, to
> overcome the Japanese version of the "Vietnam Syndrome".

The most culturally traumatic battle for the nostalgists for the Lost
Cause in Japan is the Battle of Guadalcanal*, the turning point of
Japan's fortune during WW2, the beginning of the end of its career as
a colonial empire.  Tokyo had such difficulties maintaining supplies**
to the troops there that Guadalcanal became a starvation island for
Japanese soldiers.  The Far Right in Japan, unlike Washington***, can
never overcome the Guadalcanal Syndrome, for it was Washington, not
little people of little colonies, that defeated Japan.

The Right in power, in contrast to the Far Right, don't give a damn
about Japan's defeat in WW2 (besides, evoking WW2 for them is a tricky
business, as the war time is emembered by too many Japanese as a time
of hunger brought on by politicians -- the Right in Japan can maintain
its support only by leading citizens to trust its competence at
economic management, not by memories of the past).  It mainly wants to
make money -- with America, China, Korea, the Philippines, every
country -- except in cases where money-making has to be subordinated
to Washington's desire (as in Iran).

* There is a wonderful novel about Japan during WW2 titled "Kinenhi
[Monument]" (see a review at
<http://homepage2.nifty.com/tizu/sengo/hotta.htm>) by Yoshie Hotta,
whose ending pictures the war dead of Guadalcanal and beyond (the
ending is excerpted at
<http://tizu.cocolog-nifty.com/heiwa/cat3901544/index.html>).  The
narrator hears the sounds of footsteps -- the swish, swish, swish of
zori-shod feet, the thud, thud, thud of boot-shod feet -- and then
sees a vision of the war dead, dragging their feet, with their faces
frozen in expressions at the moments of their deaths, doomed to wander
in the nether regions of the universe in perpetuity.

** The supply problem became increasingly common as the war went on
and Japan suffered defeat after defeat, retreat after retreat.  It is
graphically dramatized in Nobi [Fires on the Plain] by Ooka Shohei,
whose protagonist observes Japanese soldiers cannibalizing the flesh
of their "comrades" and contemplates doing so himself -- a very
fitting symbol for a dying colonialism.

*** It must be said that even Washington hasn't really kicked the
Vietnam Syndrome yet, for it has yet to reinstate the draft, and it
will not be able to any time soon.

> No doubt, they have the support of the US in this political project,
> since the US would presumably like Japan to be free from internal
> political constraints that prevent it from  playing the role of the
> Britain of East Asia. Thus the this battle over the past is much more
> than just symbolic, as you well know.

For the Pacific Rim area, Washington already has the Australian
military.  And Washington can't do much to North Korea, as Beijing and
Seoul object to that.

> > It seems to me the first thing to do is to really open up spaces for
> > democratic discussion: what Constitution do the Japanese people want?
> > Let's have local, regional, and national constituent assemblies to
> > discuss every aspect of the Constitution -- not just Article 9.
> > Discussion should be open-ended, rather than directed by the CP and
> > allied leftists' goal of not revising any part of Article 9.  The way
> > the Left has been resisting the very idea of revision, it ends up
> > giving an impression that it doesn't care about the gap between the
> > text of Article 9 and reality (thus seeming hypocritical) and, worse,
> > dropping a hint that it doesn't really trust the people to think on
> > their own.
> >
> Who's being unrealistic now? Does the left really have it within its
> power to bring to reality a full and democratic debate about the
> Japanese constitution? The reality that the left is facing now is that
> the center (Tokyo) would like to have a rubber stamp "review" of
> the constitution with a predetermined outcome.

When you are sure to lose, there are two ways to lose: lose by doing
the same old thing, which has led to the imminent defeat; or lose by
doing something new, which may not lead to a victory in the near
future but can build a foundation for a better future in the long
term.  If you have to lose, lose better.

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