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Abe Aspires to Arm

Shinzo Abe:Watch out kids! Godzilla! Godzilla! Hello again my friends.  The Plaid Avenger is back again in full force to force you to focus on the foreseeable future of forces in Japan…military force that is. Perhaps you already know that Japan does not have a military. No army, no navy, no air force or marines….at least that’s what is says on paper.  Of course, our pacifist Pacific pals do have a bunch of dudes running around in uniforms, with guns, on planes, and in tanks.  So what jives Japan?  Take a look:

Abe facing battle over constitutional change
Japan marks 60th anniversary of postwar Constitution
Japan PM calls for defence review
Japan extends its military reach

Oh Abe, Abe, Abe, you are a busy bee! Not ‘Honest Abe’ Lincoln mind you, but Abe Shinzo the recently elected Japanese Prime Minister.  And the ‘recently –elected’ descriptor is important for you to know, because it means that he is going to be a player for a while on the global stage.  So know Abe, but more importantly for this blog, know that Abe wants some changes.  Constitutional changes to be precise…

Former Prime Minister Koizumi: Our main man Abe is actually guiding Japan in a new direction regionally as well, as he is making a concerted effort to warm the often frigid relations between Japan and China.  His predecessor Junichiro Koizumi, was a much more hawkish figure who regularly pissed off China and Korea by visiting the Yasukuni shrine—a war shrine honoring the Japanese dead from World War II, including soldiers and convicted war criminals who committed all manner of atrocities against the Koreans and the Chinese, among others.  It appears that Abe is not going to be visiting the shrine in an effort to not piss off everyone else in the region, but we shall pick up on that subject in a different blog.

However, while Koizumi and Abe have different approaches to shrine visits, they are of one mind on the military: they both want it back.  Want it back? What the hell does that mean Plaid Avenger? Where did they lose their military? Under a rock? In the Sea of Japan? Did Godzilla eat it? No, no, no…it’s nothing like that.  It’s more like this:

During World War II, Japan was on the bad guy team.  You know, the Nazis, Mussolini’s Italy, and the Japanese. What a bizarre grouping.  Anyway, as you should know, the bad guys lost WWII, and for Japan this meant occupation by the United States—since it was the US who conducted the entire War in the Pacific component of the fighting, and after we dropped a mega-shit ton of bombs across the country, followed up by a couple of atomic ones.  Lights out. Game over. US takes over.

Under direction of General Douglas MacArthur, the entire country was remodeled based on the ‘western’ example. The educational systems, banking systems, government systems, and for this discussion in particular: the constitution. The US basically wrote it, and told the Japanese leadership: “Okay, sign here on the dotted line.” So what? Why is this important for our discussion? Because in that constitution was placed a pacifist clause which prohibited Japan from ever having a military.  And they still don’t. And that is what Abe wants to change.

“But wait Plaid Avenger, I’ve seen pictures of army dudes, and Japanese naval vessels, and Japanese guys helping the US in Iraq—but mostly I’ve seen all sorts of Japanese armaments as they battled Godzilla in all those movies…so what gives?”  Excellent question!  What you have seen/are seeing is what’s called the Japanese Self-Defense Force—a group of guys with guns and toys that look a hell of a lot like a military, except for one thing: they don’t leave the country.  It’s supposed to be the equivalent of the National Guard in the US: there for emergencies and self-defense of the motherland if anyone were to ever invade.

However, this Self-Defense Force has been changing rapidly here lately. In 2004, a small contingent of this force was sent to help the US in Iraq.  That was the first time since WWII that any Japanese soldier was sent abroad.  Many people in Japan were outraged—how could such a move be justified as defending Japan? To be sure, it was mostly a move of political support for the US (I think only 19 Japanese guys actually went, but the US got to chalk up a whole other country to its list of supporters).  After all, Japan has to keep kissing the US’ ass since Uncle Sam is the real protector of Japan, specifically against any current threat from North Korea, and any possible future threat from China. 

And know this too: China, Korea, and many other Asian nations are not happy about Japan possibly re-arming, as they are still plenty pissed about WWII.  See…this is why you have to know your damn history people!

So on one side you have a lot of Japanese folks and surrounding countries who want to keep Japan as a pacifist state.  And on the other hand you have Abe and others in the leadership who now want to change the constitution to allow for a true defensive and offensive military, both for their security and to appease the US.  The US really wants Japan to re-arm, and is pushing hard for this. Why? Because the US wants to use the military might of a re-armed Japan as a counter-balance to the growth of Chinese power in the region.  It’s all such a delicious game of RISK, you know, the military game of dominance from Milton Bradley.  Check and check-mate!  Oh waiter, check please!

Oh wait, we have to stop and savor the historical irony here: the US is pushing hard for Japan to scrap part of its constitution that the US forced Japan to adopt 60 years ago. Ha! How hilarious!

Could you make this shit up if you tried?

We shall see how this plays out in the very near future.  The changing of a constitutional clause in Japan will cause considerable consternation in the Pacific.  Too true, too true.  Watch out! Godzilla may rise again!

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