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Hiroshi Yuasa

【#470】Reject Elected Elites Having No Willingness to Protect People

Hiroshi Yuasa / 2017.09.28 (Thu)

September 25, 2017

     Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has chosen to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election amid the North Korean nuclear crisis. Opposition parties have immediately criticized Abe for “lacking any cause” or “creating a political vacuum.” In a preemptive move, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper branded the Abe decision as an attempt to bury scandals regarding the government’s discounted sale of land to the school corporation Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution’s plan to set up a university veterinary medicine department, providing opposition parties with a model for attacking the Abe government. Earlier, opposition parties had called on Abe to dissolve the lower house and seek voters’ judgment on the Moritomo and Kake scandals. Therefore, opposition parties should not have any reason to criticize the Abe decision. Backed by the Asahi newspaper, however, the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party have taken advantage of the scandals for criticizing Abe. For lawmakers, any election represents a “bullet-less war” in which their jobs are at stake. They may be able to make any reasons to their advantage.
Nuclear crisis prompts lower house dissolution
     The prime minister’s decision to dissolve the lower house may not have been wise as it gave opposition parties reasons to criticize. However, the current strategic environment surrounding Japan does not allow us to question whether the dissolution is wise or not. A paradoxical cause for the lower house dissolution may be to expel lawmakers who have obsessively devoted themselves to criticizing Abe over the Moritomo and Kake scandals even amid North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests.
     The U.S. Trump administration suspects that North Korea is close to completing intercontinental ballistic missiles and could miniaturize nuclear warheads within a year or so to deepen the crisis. “North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said in an analysis in late July, indicating that the Korean Peninsula crisis could escalate further.
     The international situation surrounding Japan is prompting Japan to dissolve the lower house for a snap election before the crisis reaches its peak. If the U.S. is to launch a military attack, it would take one or two months for naval and air force surge enough to destroy North Korean nuclear and missile sites and immediately incapacitate 10,000 guns deployed along the 38th parallel of latitude dividing the two Koreas. It would also take two months for the United States to evacuate some 200,000 Americans including families of the military personnel from South Korea.

Deterrence against North Korea should be discussed
     In the coming election campaign, candidates should thoroughly discuss how to deter North Korea with the Japan-U.S. alliance. Can Japan overcome the crisis while maintaining its three non-nuclear principles to refrain from possessing, producing and bringing in nuclear weapons? Will the U.S. nuclear umbrella on Japan remain effective even after North Korea develops ICBMs that can reach New York?
     Can Japan think of nuclear sharing with the U.S. if Japan cannot possess its own nuclear weapons? What would be deterrence replacing nuclear weapons if arguments about nuclear weapons are to divide public opinion and boost political costs too much? Should Japan have capabilities to attack enemy military bases with conventional weapons under the current constitution? Should Japan amend the constitution to get full-blown deterrence with conventional weapons to prevent any war? Japanese people do not have much time left to make decisions.
     Candidates in the coming snap election should sell their policies on these issues with a sense of mission to the voters. Then, the voters may judge that the nation’s prosperity and security cannot be protected within the framework of the current constitution. Will opposition parties still devote themselves to an idyllic political feud over the Moritomo and Kake scandals on an island paradise? We reject any elected elites who have no willingness to protect the people.

Hiroshi Yuasa is a Planning Committee Member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.