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This Peaceful Japan

10.11.2006 11:31

Maxim Adamov

The events of recent years in the world have spotlighted the essence of the US global military strategy. This essence consists in the Washington’s ambitions to promote its control over all continents, and to break down resistance of nations not willing to be under “the iron heel” of the Pentagon by force of arms. Whatever the officials of Washington and Western countries say, today it is evident that a goal of the US policy is to contain and frighten Russia.

The military and political situation not only in Europe but also in the Asian-Pacific Region should be analyzed with a glance to the far-reaching goals of the USA and its NATO allies. It would be erroneous to assume that 100 000 US troops stationed in the US bases in Japan, South Korea and aboard the warships in the Pacific near the Asian coast have any other objectives different from those set to the American troops in the NATO countries. Actually, the strategic objectives of the US troops in Europe and in the Far East are the same. The difference is that besides Russia their potential enemies are China and North Korea.

If we speak about the US military policy in the Far East, it fails to be associated with detente in the Asian-Pacific Region, which was so much spoken about immediately after the Cold War. It seemed that the Pentagon had no reasons to be worried witnessing evident weakening of its former main political enemy – Russia. However, nowadays military hysteria is fomented with reference of alleged “threat to security of the USA” and its Pacific allies posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Recent successful tests of ballistic missiles, nuclear researches and underground nuclear explosion performed by North Korea evoked sharp dissatisfaction of the Pentagon.

The reaction is surprisingly inadequate and unnatural. The US and Japanese press claims that the activities of North Korea make “threat to security and peace” in the Far East. Yet it is known that the USA and Japan as well as other countries of the region possess hundreds of ballistic missiles and regularly launch various spacecraft including those of the military application.

But if we examine in general the strategy pursued by the US government in the Far East, we will clearly see the efforts of the US military establishment to include this region also into the system of global envelopment of Russia and China with a chain of its military bases and use to this end Japanese and South Korean troops in Asia in addition to the NATO troops in Western Europe.

This is the only explanation of the continuous pressure that the USA exerts on Japan in order to tie the Japanese Self-Defense Forces closer to the military machine of the Pentagon.

An explicit evidence of the Pentagon’s efforts to involve Japan in more active support of its military plans is “The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation” signed by the Japanese and American governments as far back as 1997.

This document is based on the same Japanese-American security treaty stipulating the open-ended presence of the US bases and troops in the territory of Japan. The Guidelines regulate cooperation between the US troops stationed in Japan with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces created in violation of the Japanese Constitution and therefore lacking the formal right to be involved in any overseas military operations as well as any offensive operations outside of the country. The first revision of the Guidelines issued in 1976 stipulated a limited assistance to the American troops by the Japanese Forces within the territory of Japan provided Japan is attacked by any aggressor.

The present revision radically expands the scope of cooperation between the US and Japanese armed forces. Today, it is expected that both armed forces will conduct their joint “defensive” operations not only in the territory of Japan but also in the adjacent areas, and the goal of these operations will be not only to repel actual aggression against the Japanese islands but also “eliminate conflicts” in the adjacent areas. In so doing, according to the Guidelines, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces should provide for “logistic support” of the US troops including transportation of American personnel, ammunition and materiel, and provision of naval blockade of the enemy territory. Such updates radically expand the scope of potential military operations of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and strengthen military dependence of Japan on the USA. Many Japanese observers reasonably believe that now Japan would unlikely stay aside any military conflict that may be provoked by the USA in the western part of the Pacific near the coast of Korea, China, Russia or South-Asian countries.

Attempts of the USA and Japan to expand the area of their military cooperation caused concerns and objections of the Asian neighbors. First of all, the Chinese government is very suspicious about these plans. The Chinese leadership expressed its objection to the plans of Washington and Tokyo to expand their military cooperation to “the areas adjacent to Japan” including the Taiwan Strait to Itiro Odzava, leader of the Japanese Liberal Party (one of the two parties making the government coalition), during his visit to China late in February, 1999.

Simultaneously, “The Guidelines of Japan-US Defense Cooperation of 1997” were strongly opposed in the Japanese Parliament, which support was needed to make the Guidelines legally effective. Two parties of the Parliament opposition conceptually opposed the document: the communists and social-democrats. For example, the Communist Party called this document “a law of war”. According to the communists, “the logistic support” to be provided by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces is regarded as a type of military operations in the international laws, and participation in such operations means direct “drawing of Japan into a war by the United States”.

The Chinese leaders also negatively respond to militarization of Japan. Another militaristic plan of the USA also causes concerns of the leaders and population of China. It relates to development of a so-called “theater missile defense system” by the US R&D military institutions. According to the developers of the system, a constellation of spacecraft transmitting signals to ground-based and sea-based interceptor systems should be launched to the orbit to intercept and destroy enemy missiles. The goal of the system is to guarantee invulnerability of the USA, Japan and Taiwan against the risk of nuclear missile counter strikes of Russia and China.

Today, it is evident that Japan supports this idea of the Pentagon. The Japanese Government annually provides money for development of the aforesaid “Theater Missile Defense” (TDM). Besides, lately Japan has started successively increasing its defense expenditures. In so doing, about 70% of these defense expenditures are appropriated for development of long-range weapons and heavy military equipment. In 2005, the Japanese defense budget totaled more than 40 billion US Dollars. In 2006, Japan spent more than any other Asian country but for Saudi Arabia on large-scale procurements of various military equipment , and became the third largest purchaser of such equipment worldwide. In so doing, Japan almost suspended import of artillery systems, APCs and other main conventional weapons, and started primarily purchasing Hi-Tech weapons, ABM systems and intelligence and reconnaissance hardware.

Implementation of the TMD project by the USA and Japan will inevitably provoke escalation of the arms race in the Far East. Logically, such plans made China and Russia take adequate steps for ABM defense of their territories yet it became the heaviest burden on their budgets.

A question arises to what degree the above-mentioned military preparations are initiated by the Pentagon , and to what degree – by Japan itself. Undoubtedly, the leading role in this undertaking is of the USA striving to establish its monocratic control over all continents of the globe. But we should not shrug off an interest of at least a part of the Japanese establishment in continuous increase of its own military potential.

It is confirmed with a recent decision of Keizai Doyukai, an influential association of Japanese financial oligarchs, acting as a informal consultant of the Japanese Government on the most urgent problems of the national economy and politics. On March 10, 1999 the Japanese press reported that Keizai Doyukai insists that the Japanese Parliament secure the right of Japan to “collective self-defense” implying first of all joint Japanese-American military operations stipulated in the respective Guidelines. Demanding early approval of the Guidelines by the Parliament Keizai Doyukai in its statement hints that it is necessary to revise the current peaceful Constitution of the country to prepare the national defense for the risk of “emergency situations”.

Meanwhile as it was in the previous years the Japanese Government in its actions and statements pursues the policy towards creation of deceptive impression in the Japanese and world public that Japan is a peaceful country strictly complying with the constitutionally established ban on creation of national armed forces and conduct of war as a method of international conflict resolution. To create such deceptive image in the public the Government implemented a policy of wearing the military uniform only in military camps, barracks and other military institutions. In accordance with this strictly observed practice officers and soldiers of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are not allowed to wear their military uniform in the streets of Japanese cities and settlements. Due to this reason, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces may be called “an invisible army”, which is not an eyesore to anybody in the country.

At first sight the strength of this “invisible army” is not large – it varies within the range of 235 - 250 thousand men. Today, according to official data, it is 236,000 men strong, including 148,000 in the Army, 43,000 in the Navy and 45,000 in the Air Force. So far, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces do not have such offensive weapons as nuclear bombs, ICBMs, long-range bombers and large aircraft carriers. At the same time the combat capabilities of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are higher than those of the armed forces in many other countries. According to Russian military experts, yet in terms of the strength the Japanese armed forces occupy the 16th position worldwide, in terms of the aggregate combat power they were the fifth-sixth largest armed forces worldwide already in the early 90s. The quality of the military equipment of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces continuously improves.

However, it would be erroneous to compare the combat power of the Japanese armed forces with that of the Russian armed forces. Such comparison is invalid because the contemporary Japanese army should not be assessed as an independent and autonomous power. A huge American military machine stands behind the Japanese Self-Defense Forces from the date of their birth. It supports these “Forces” with its full combat power. Therefore the Japanese army should be assessed as a component of the American armed forces located in the Asian-Pacific Region.

Today, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are strongly tied to the Pentagon military machine in all aspects: the Japanese troops are stationed in Japan next door to the American troops and in certain cases use the same firing ranges, aerodromes and ports. They have actually common operational plans. They annually conduct joint military exercises. There are no and cannot be any grounds to expect that Japanese generals could perform any independent military operation without preliminary consent of the US military command. And as it was mentioned above, both the United States and Japan have and will have in the foreseeable future in accordance with the US military plans a common main potential enemy – either Russia, or China, or North Korea.

It is quite logical that during joint exercises the ships of the US and Japanese Navies practice to perform operations in such theatres as the Seas of Japan and Okhotsk, Kamchatka, Chukotka, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands.

It would be erroneous to believe that there is no nuclear threat emanating from the Japanese territory to the neighbors yet Japan many times emphasized its non-nuclear status. It is a myth disproved by actual developments long ago. The fact is that the US naval bases located in Japan including Yokosuka, Sasebo and Okinawa provide for berthing of US surface ships and submarines armed with nuclear weapons that do not notify Japanese authorities officially about such weapon to avoid exposing them to difficulties and provoking protests of the peaceful Japanese public. Today, Japanese officials have no right to inspect US military aircraft basing on Japanese aerodromes. Meanwhile as we see in other regions, many of these aircraft carry various nuclear weapons.

The history of mankind confirms that at most the armed conflicts between neighbors occur due to territorial disputes. Unfortunately, the territorial disputes in the Asian-Pacific Region are pending settlement even today. It is notable that it is “peaceful Japan” that is the main instigator of these disputes. It is well-known that Japan has illegal and unjustified claims for the Russian Kuril Islands that are referred to as “the Northern Territories” by Japan. It is indicative that Japan also claims for the Chinese Diaoyutai Islands located southward of Okinawa. Japan also claims for the Korean Tokto Islands in the Tsushima Strait. It is known that any territorial claims to neighbors may result in unexpected complications for the security of the region.

However, alongside with the threats to peace in the Far East there are opposite-vector factors in the same region that restrain aggressive ambitions of the USA preferring forceful solution of disputes. One of these factors is the nuclear weapon of Russia and China that currently invalidates any expectations of the USA to survive invulnerable and unpunished in case of a direct aggression against these countries.

The Japanese peaceful public will exercise as it was before, the restraining influence on the forces that try to use the American-Japanese “security treaty” to bring under control of the USA also other countries of the Asian-Pacific Region. Both Japanese military experts and ordinary citizens understand it well that if the United States draws their country into a conflict with its neighbors, Japan will be the first to suffer from this conflict even if no nuclear weapons are used in it. To understand it well it is enough to look at the map, at that limited territory of the Japanese Islands, which is a homeland today for 125 million people. Today there are 50 atomic power plants in this territory, 10 of them are located on the sea coast just within the range of short-range missiles mounted aboard the enemy ships. Any direct hit of such missile in one of the atomic power plants may have grave consequences for the population of the adjacent areas.

It follows that nowadays even with its full military power Japan is not ready physically and morally to fight against Russia and China. But the problem is different – it is the Pentagon that often makes a final but not always weighted decision in solution of war and peace problems both in Western Europe and in the Far East.