Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoichi Shimada

【#285】Constitutional Debate Linked to History War

Yoichi Shimada / 2015.02.12 (Thu)

February 9, 2015

     When a delegation of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals visited India in September 2011 along with a bipartisan group of Japanese lawmakers including Shinzo Abe, now prime minister, a former senior Indian government official made an impressive remark I still remember. Noting that Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution would be Japan's disease while the non-alignment policy would be India's disease, the former official recommended that Japan and India overcome their respective diseases to counter growing Chinese threats. This may be a right recommendation.
Terrorist Incident and Diet debate
     In response to radical Muslim terrorists' brutal slaughter of Japanese citizens, Prime Minister Abe said at the House of Councilors Budget Committee on February 3 that Article 9 of the Constitution must be amended "to accomplish missions to defend the lives and property of the people." In contrast, a negative attitude against such constitutional amendment seems dominant in the opposition camp, as indicated by Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada's remark that debate on constitutional amendments would be dangerous under the prime minister who pours scorn over or has low regard for the present Constitution.
     As a result, Prime Minister Abe has failed to depart from his contradictory remarks that cannot be internationally understandable. While vowing "not to forgive terrorists but to cooperate with the international community in forcing them to pay for their crime," Abe said that Japan would never participate in military operations by the coalition against Islamic State terrorists and that the government could not implement the Self-Defense Forces' logistic support allowed under the Constitution for such operations in the absence of any law for such support or would not do so as a policy even if the law were enacted.
     The remarks involved the Middle East that is geographically far away from Japan. If Abe makes similar remarks in case a coalition launches military operations on the Korean Peninsula to rescue Japanese abductees in North Korea, the international community may pour scorn over him.
Japan played a central role in rescuing hostages
     Japan once had played a central role in subduing an international terrorist group and rescuing hostages. In 1900, the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan), known as the "Boxers," expanded into Peking calling for anti-foreignism radically. In response, the then Qing dynasty government declared war in June against eight countries including Japan, Britain, the United States, Germany, France and Russia, leading Qing dynasty government forces and radical Boxer militants to cooperate in attacking these countries’ diplomatic establishments in Peking. Diplomats as well as some 3,000 Chinese Christians subject to terror attacks by the militants were placed under siege at a quarter for diplomatic establishments for some two months. Then Japanese Defense Attaché Goro Shiba served as chief of staff for foreign diplomatic delegations there.
     On August 14, the eight countries' allied forces of which Japan accounted for half arrived there and liberated the diplomatic establishments from the siege. The Times in its editorial described the incident as featuring Japanese soldiers' brilliant prowess and tactics in supporting these diplomatic establishments' resistance to the siege. During the allied forces' subsequent military rule of Peking, the Japanese-covered area was appreciated as featuring the strictest military discipline.
     Although Japan's modern war history includes some cases where Japan lacked prudence or rationality, people well versed in historical facts involving Japan may immediately feel that claims for the massacre of 300,000 people at the Nanking incident and the forcible recruitment of 200,000 girls for comfort women represent fabrication. As well as overseas anti-Japan groups, Japanese Constitution defenders hold fast to distorted history cards because any cards other than those labeling Japanese forces as aggressors are unfavorable for them. Debate on constitutional amendments is closely linked to the history-related propaganda war.

Yoichi Shimada is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Fukui Prefectural University.