You like conspiracy theories? If so, try this one, born and bred right here. Article Nine of the 1947 Japanese Constitution – largely drafted of course by America in the wake of WWII – prohibits the nation from resolving international disputes by force. In other words it imposes pacifism on a country that, in the light of its shamefully bellicose and brutally imperialist conduct over the first half of the 20th Century, could use some pacifying. This is of course not saying that other countries – Holland, France, the UK, Spain, etc. – were not also shamefully bellicose and brutally imperialistic – or that Germany was not history’s most deplorable of all monsters. But none of those countries was ever denied by the global community an army, and Germany was very soon remilitarized after 1945. So why was Japan thus singled out? It was just chess – simple as that. A perennial threat to the area, particularly to China and Korea, it was thought best to defang Japan and let Reconstruction under US aegis take hold. We must remember that the country was devastated by American attacks, two of them the world’s only examples so far of nuclear warfare. We must also remember that this was an era — and it lasted well into the sixties — when “Made in Japan” meant cheap shit, often the kind of dross you got in Christmas crackers and bubble-gum machines. The nation couldn’t have afforded a military with modern armaments even if it had been allowed to possess one. But, tempus fugit, all that has certainly changed. Yet Article Nine is still there, still an ineluctable feature of the Japanese Constitution, as difficult to budge as the Second Amendment.
But all this is changing, or being pushed towards change; and Prime Minister Abe is at the forefront of this effort – or he seems to be. The nation’s single longest-serving PM, and scion of a political dynasty (his grandfather was PM from 1957 to 1960), you could say Abe was completing the ancestral legacy of restoring Japan to its dignity as a fully-fledged player on the world stage – this was his grandfather’s stated and unsuccessful mission. Except that, very quietly indeed, Japan has been throwing its (admittedly unarmed in any serious way) military might around for some time now, and unabashedly on behalf of the US. It was a (rather limp-wristed) member of the so-called coalition to invade Iraq in 2003; and it has participated in more recent actions in the East China Sea and elsewhere in the area. As unpublicized as these ventures were, they nonetheless send a message to other countries in the region – China, North Korea – which have historical reasons to fear a remilitarized Japan, since they were despoiled in the most appalling fashion during the years leading up to WWII. But the country is divided around 50-50 on the issue of rearming. This is why they need a forceful nudge to vote Yes – and they are getting it.
It is surely no coincidence that the missiles fired today and recently by North Korea, although putatively announced as capable of hitting the US mainland, in fact threaten mostly Japan, violating airspace and landing off the Japanese coast. We must ask ourselves why Rocket Man would taunt the US in such a wanton manner, when he knows beyond all doubt that a war with America would result in the utter destruction of his country, his regime and probably himself too. I have suggested previously here that Pyongyang must know something we don’t about its security from US attacks to continue with this brazen baiting. I am inclined to think now that this something is an agreement with the US administration to willfully menace Japan in order to sway public opinion there towards remilitarization. It’s working too, the percentages changing in favour of Yes with every missile launch. Incredible, you say. Yet if the Trump government does not take action against Pyongyang for this latest affront then I shall be forced to conclude it’s true. We know that back-channel discussions with Pyongyang have been in progress for some time, but we are never told what is being discussed on them. In the game of chess that is, and always has been international geo-politics, such duplicitous scams are far from unusual.
Why would Trump or anyone condone such a policy? There are two simple and highly persuasive answers to this. First is money – of course it is. The trillions Japan would inevitably spend on rearming would go straight into the coffers of America’s biggest business, the military-industrial complex, in which the Trump organization is heavily invested, and which always generously rewards its collaborators (take Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, whose net worth increased ten-thousand-fold after the Iraq War) . The second answer is pure geo-politics. With China roaring its way into becoming an economic powerhouse rivalling the US, if not far exceeding the world’s most chronic debtor-nation, it is useful to have a sworn enemy in the immediate locale and armed to the teeth, missiles just a hop away. Essentially a slave-state since the war, Japan rearmed will indubitably continue on as an American vassal, obeying any and all orders from the State Department and whomsoever else in Washington is impelled to order them. It wouldn’t have to get to the brink of war, though. The Chinese leadership, more subtle and forward-thinking than any other government on earth, won’t need hostilities to tell them what a remilitarized Japan on their doorstep means. When American might moves closer, China may also make a move somewhere uncomfortable for Washington. And so the game proceeds, as it always has done, with the muggles picking up the tab, trembling in their boots, and electing increasingly autocratic governments to defend their paltry stake in life. Call it history. The only anomaly here is that a rearmed Japan would pose a clear and present danger to North Korea as well. But Rocket Man is clearly not the sharpest tool in the workshop, and who’s to say he’s been confided with the whole plan? Those who doubt such nefarious schemes go forward in governments ought to look up how Winston Churchill allowed Coventry to be bombed rather than reveal that the Brits had cracked the famous Nazi Enigma code, thereby obviating any further intelligence via the code. Thousands have been slaughtered to further a strategy or policy. As they say, All’s fair in love and war.
Paul William Roberts