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Hironobu Ishikawa

【#515】French Intellectuals Call for Switching Japan’s Security View

Hironobu Ishikawa / 2018.05.23 (Wed)

May 21, 2018

     The Japan Institute for National Fundamentals held a symposium titled “New Global Challenges and Japan” on May 17 to mark its 10th anniversary. Invited to the symposium as guest speaker was French historian and demographer Emmanuel Todd who had predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 2008 financial crisis, the Arab Spring and the Eurozone debt crisis. A great number of people exceeding the seating capacity of 500 at the Iino Hall in Tokyo attended the symposium, demonstrating their strong interest in the speaker.
     Todd had a discussion with JINF President Yoshiko Sakurai and Vice President Tadae Takubo after his keynote speech on the stage, giving his views about current international problems. The French scholar conspicuously called for turning around Japan’s national security view.

Globalization fatigue
     Todd discussed a wide range of topics from the U.S. decline to the perception about China, collaboration with Russia and Japan’s national security. In the background, globalism has plunged into “fatigue” in the United States and Britain where it originated and uncertainties in the Anglo-Saxon world have destabilized the entire world, bringing about big changes in the international situation, according to him.
     In the United States, middle-class whites have seen little income growth with their gap with high-income elites widening, resulting in a rise in the fatality rate among middle-aged white males, he noted. Amid a domestic division, President Donald Trump has gone in the direction of protectionism. Plagued with the immigrant problem, Britain has exited from the European Union.
     Japan is concerned about China’s disregard of international rules and inclination to expansionism. Apparently due to France’s geopolitical distance from China, however, Todd pointed to China’s fragile future indicated by its distorted demographic composition and outflow of vigorous human resources abroad.

Advocating Russo-Japan rapprochement
     Under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, Russia has risen again as stable, conservative power based on its traditional collectivism, he said. Russia has learned lessons from the failure of Soviet imperialistic expansionism and is unlikely to expand into Western Europe, according to Todd. Given China’s presence, Japan should overcome the past Russian atrocity in World War II and their occupation of Japan’s Northern Territories and seek friendly relations with Russia, he suggested.
     While Japan should give priority to government support for countermeasures against falling birthrates, national security would be no less important, Todd said, urging Japan to have nuclear weapons for peace. If Britain and France had no nuclear weapons, Europe might have plunged into anarchy, he added.
     Todd’s remarks reminded me that in a rebuttal to Japanese Nobel literature prize winner Kenzaburo Oe’s protest to French nuclear tests, French Nobel literature prize laureate Claude Simon noted that pacifists opposing all weapons programs before World War II allowed Nazis to invade neighbors. French intellectuals have a national security view close to that of Japanese conservatives or rightists.

Hironobu Ishikawa is a Director and Planning Committee Member of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals