Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tadae Takubo

【#509】Specter of Yoshida Doctrine is Haunting

Tadae Takubo / 2018.04.25 (Wed)

April 23, 2018

     The specter of the so-called Yoshida doctrine is haunting in the Japanese political center of Nagata-cho. The doctrine, which called for a lightly armed, economically powerful Japan and was pursued once by this country after its war defeat, is reflected in the policy outline released on April 18 by a major Liberal Democratic Party faction led by Fumio Kishida, chairman of the ruling LDP’s Policy Research Council and former foreign minister.

Kishida faction defends “Peace Constitution”
     The policy outline is nicknamed K-WISH, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on April 19. Its keyword is “from top-down to bottom-up,” implicitly criticizing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s top-down approach. Nevertheless, Kishida has suggested that he would like to peacefully take over the LDP presidency and premiership from Abe. He is navigating the political world smartly.
     K stands for “kind politics,” W for a “warm economy,” I for an “inclusive society,” S for a “sustainable foundation” and H for “humane diplomacy.” If the Kishida faction、officially called Kochikai, can’t avoid using English, then might as well require faction members to speak English.
     The problem is H. The policy outline explains the faction will “use the three pillars of the Peace Constitution, the Japan-U.S. alliance and the Self-Defense Forces for creating peace” and “lead nuclear disarmament.” This explanation indicates the policy as defending the constitution or at least leaving the constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 untouched. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has once attended a discussion meeting of our Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, impressing us with a well-reasoned assertion. It is unbelievable that Onodera belongs to the Kishida-led Kochikai faction.

Reverting to “lightly armed Japan” approach?
     Thirty-three years ago, Yonosuke Nagai, then a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, authored a book titled “Gendai to Senryaku (Modern Times and Strategy),” naming the postwar “lightly armed, economically powerful Japan” approach as “Yoshida doctrine.” Although the late Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida himself had never advocated any doctrine, the Nagai-created word has taken on a life of its own.
     I have made an argument with Nagai over the so-called doctrine for monthly magazines but think that he accurately observed a situation into which Japan once plunged after World War II. Nagai explained that the Yoshida doctrine represented the approach adopted by the late Prime Ministers Yoshida, Hayato Ikeda, Masayoshi Ohira, Kiichi Miyazawa and others who were mainstream conservative politicians.
     Is the Kochikai faction reverting to an age when Japan was criticized as an economic animal devoted to making money without worrying about national security guaranteed by strong U.S. forces? Natsuo Yamaguchi, who leads the Komeito party, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, told a party of the faction, “It is the Kochikai’s turn now.” He thus sent cheers to Kishida. After becoming the head of the LDP’s Takeshita faction, LDP General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita said the Kochikai policy was the closest to him, indicating he could support Kishida in the LDP’s presidential election in September, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun column Hojosen on April 21.
     I feel an air of Japan being trapped by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s great magic.

Tadae Takubo is Vice President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals