August 15, 1945, is a day when Japan accepted the ultimatum, the Potsdam Declaration, to unconditionally surrender to end the World War II. The war deprived precious lives of 20 million of Asia and 3.1 million of Japan. This year 2016 commemorates the 71st year of the end of the Asia-Pacific War. Japan as a state should review the war sincerely and take an indisputable position to learn its lessons, but today the situation is grave as the nation tries to annul efforts.
NEVER COME BACK TO A PATH ONCE JAPAN HAS TRACED
War in the name of Self-defense
Japan has ushered in the dark era of long war of 15 years in September 1931, when the Imperial Kwangtung Army exploded a railway line owned by the South Manchurian Railway. It was a beginning of the war. The Japanese Imperial Army speedily occupied the northeastern region of China in the pretext to ‘defend the Empire’, advancing deeper in the continent. A concept the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was the base to justify the war.
In December, 1941, Japan declared a war against the United States and the United Kingdom. Emperor Hirohito wrote down ‘for existence and defense of the Empire’ in the document. Every one of Japanese people became a fireball, mass media were frantic and the entire school education system contributed to validate the aggression wars. Those who opposed the war and those who did not cooperate with the war were accused ? they were considered as ‘unpatriotic’.
People of Japan were announced of the end of war by the broadcast Emperor’s voices on August 15, 1945. It is 71 years since then.
A new version of the Constitution was promulgated, stemming from a deep remorse of the war. It pledged peace and democracy, but today the principles are exposed to jeopardy. The government sets concrete schedules to amend the Constitution in a political context, which has never been a fact before.
Focal Point - Article Nine
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has unmistakably demonstrated how it wants to rewrite the Constitution, judging from the developments it had involved in for years. The Fundamental Law of Education, which is called the Second Constitution, was revised in December, 2006, in the first-round Abe Administration. Expressions like, ‘public’, ‘tradition’ and ‘moral’, are found occasionally in the provisions.
The so-called State Secret Protection Law was approved violently by the Diet in December, 2013, in the second-round Abe government. The third-round Abe government managed to reinterpret Article Nine to make a decision in July 2014 in the Cabinet to admit the right of collective self-defense. New legislation on national security, rightly called the war legislation, was forced to pass the Diet in September 2015. Today US-Japan military drills are held routinely in accordance with the US-Japan Alliance Guidelines.
The state authorities today intervene in mass media and in the school education system, pretending to be neutral and fair. Peace activists are accused with hoots, ‘a traitor’. In the construction sites in Okinawa, at Henoko where a new military base is to be built and at Takae where a helicopter landing pads are to be built, violent oppression is staged on the protesting people by an overwhelming number of policemen. Nevertheless, a support rate of the Abe government is being kept at a level exceeding 50%.
United Struggles Needed
The August 15 of this year has a special meaning. As the results of July election of the House of Councilors, in both of the two Houses lawmakers who favor amendment of the Constitution have won over two-thirds of the seats. Political parties which agree to change Article Nine of the Constitution have won the majority of the seats.
Struggles will be severer. Which way to go, amendment of the Constitution and war or defense of the Constitution and peace?
A path to defeat the government’s campaigns is to enhance mass movements to spread lessons from the nationwide struggles of citizens and workers last year to contest the war legislation.
One more path is to develop and enhance united offensive of all of opposition forces in the elections on the state level and on the governorship. The opposition forces have been successful lately in campaigning against poverty and social gaps and wars. Let’s go on the paths so that we may never come back to ‘the path once traced’ during the Asia-Pacific War days.
August 9, 2016