Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoshiko Sakurai

【#378】Prepare for Global Nationalism Rise

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2016.06.02 (Thu)

May 30, 2016

     As economic power and military power are indispensable for an independent nation, ideals and realistic appreciation are necessary for politics.
     For U.S. President Barack Obama, a visit to Hiroshima represented a good opportunity to call for anew the ideal of the world without nuclear weapons.
     Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, symbolized by his hug of an atomic bombing survivor, was an achievement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomacy and viewed positively by 98% of Japanese respondents in a poll by Kyodo News. However, things are not so cut and dry in the real world.
     In an editorial, The New York Times criticized Abe as having “often sought to rewrite the history, portraying Japan as a victim of the war as well.” President Obama, while calling for eliminating nuclear weapons, have reduced nuclear warheads more slowly than his predecessors and decided to spend $1 trillion on nuclear weapon upgrade over the next 30 years.

“America First” and ultra-rightist movement in Europe
     Harsh realities are behind Abe’s diplomatic success in Hiroshima and the Ise-Shima G7 Summit. At the outset of his foreign policy address on April 27, Donald Trump, set to win the Republican presidential nomination, emphasized an “America First” foreign policy, which was criticized by President Obama. However, Trump’s assertion essentially echoes Obama’s that America is no longer the world’s policeman and the assertion of Barney Sanders who still remains in the Democratic presidential nomination race.
     The wave of “America First” emerged at the end of the 1930s, leading to the establishment of the America First Committee which dissolved itself following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The idea of America First that cannot be separated from isolationism exists at the bottom of American society and comes out in the open when stimulated by the times and circumstances.
     After its pursuit of diversity, the world has allowed nationalism to grow, driven by the influx of immigrants and refugees. The Alternative for Germany, an anti-immigration political party, made great gains in German local parliament elections in March. Marine Le Pen, president of the French ultra-right National Front, is the leading candidate for next year’s presidential election. A British referendum on whether to remain a member of the European Union in the next month remains in the balance. In an Austrian presidential election in May, a liberal candidate believing in the significance of the EU won over an ultra-rightist candidate by a razor-thin margin.
     In such situation, the G7 industrial countries assert freedom, democracy, human rights and compliance with international law while failing to implement policies for these universal values. The G7 nations are now required to reconsider their power and roles.

Importance of constitutional amendment
     Japan must be prepared for the two great changes – growing nationalism in major countries and China’s growing threat. When Japan restored independence with U.S. occupation ended, when the Cold War ended and when the Gulf War broke out, we had opportunities to implement constitutional amendments and other measures to make up for decisive shortfalls for a state. However, we have missed all such opportunities. Can Prime Minister Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party acknowledge the great price of the miss?
     They must act now to fulfill the state’s most important responsibility of protecting our country and the people. In order to sustain the emotion in Hiroshima and the true friendship between Japan and the United States, they must reinvigorate Japan with constitutional amendments and tell the people of the importance for Japan to have full-fledged armed forces for a democratic state.
Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.