Discarding article 9 of the Japanese constitution is not inducive to peace in Asia Pacific

Mar 3, 2023
Victorious Japanese troops march through Fullerton Square.Battle of Singapore, February 1942. Japanese victorious troops march through the city centre.

Those service personnel who died in WWII fighting against the Japanese would turn in their grave if they knew that their descendants were rearming Japan. There is no reason for any accelerated arm race or nuclear proliferation in the East Pacific. Why are we creating one?

Article 9.

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

Reading Dr Ti’s “Sanitising the unforgettable” in Pearls & Irritation brings back my childhood memories of Japanese Occupation in British Malaya (1941-45), and accounts which were told to me post-WW2 about Japanese soldiers’ cruelty and atrocities in that era.

The stories told to me include the following:

  1. Japanese soldiers shooting Chinese famers in remote hilly areas as target practice.
  2. Japanese soldiers guarding bridges would rifle butt those Chinese who did not dismount from their bicycle and bow, before crossing the bridge.
  3. My paternal Uncle who fled to Singapore before Singapore fell in 1942. He managed to return to China via Hong Kong and then joined the PLA in Yunnan Province to fight the Japanese advance from Burma. He was killed by a Japanese Zero which blew up his lorry.
  4. We had gunny sacks full of Japanese occupational currency after the war and I was told that it took almost a bag full of notes to buy a sack of rice.
  5. However, not all Japanese soldiers were sadists and there were also stories about how Japanese officers were kind to children who were mischievous in their barracks. Perhaps they missed their children at home.

I, too, visited Japan in the 1990s and found the local Japanese to be polite and helpful, and very different from the samurai mentality of some of the Japanese imperial army personnel. I often wondered how nice people like that can commit atrocities throughout South and East Asia.

We can forgive but not forget about the atrocities committed against the Chinese people in China (Nanjing massacre), in Singapore and Malaya. Unlike the Germans who had made formal apologies to the victims of WW2, the Japanese had not. Hence, those painful memories are difficult to dissipate with the families of the victims over time. This reluctance to apologise could be related to the reasons why the Japanese have whitewashed their school textbooks about WW2 atrocities and is well illustrated by Isaac Chotiner in his book “How Shinzo Abe Sought to Rewrite Japanese History (2022).”

Equally, we do not rejoice about the nuclear bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where thousands of Japanese civilians lost their lives. Hence, we have hoped that Japan can evolve herself to be a peace-loving nation by adhering to the Article 9 of their peaceful constitution and be truly repentant of their ‘war crimes’. Only then, can the people of Asia ‘forgive’ the past and work together in achieving peace and prosperity for all nations in the Asia Pacific.

We should be concerned when Japan intends to rearm, expand its military and prepare for war again, this time, as a proxy of the US against China over the Taiwan issue as part of the China containment policy.

The Ukraine War has illuminated the real agenda of the US, ie. to remain the hegemon of the world. The US imperium peaked when the USSR was dissolved (1991), and the US became the sole superpower in a unilateral world. The US has succeeded in goading Russia to invade Ukraine and has now gone all out to reduce Russia to rubbles, in order to maintain her hegemony in Europe. Using the same strategy, the US is goading China to invade Taiwan so it may apply its unilateral sanctions on China and polarise China’s neighbours, particular Japan, to be her proxy boots on the ground, as the Japanese have publicly declared that they will defend Taiwan. The Ukraine War would fight to the last Ukraine and the Taiwan War would fight to the last Taiwanese!

The US seems to have forgotten that many US service personnel sacrificed their lives to defeat Imperial Japan. Those perished include British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Chinese service personnel. Now, for the US agenda and interests, the US is allowing the Japanese to repeal Article 9 of the Japanese post war constitution and arming & expanding the Japanese military. There is no guarantee that the Japanese armed forces would not be controlled by the Japanese ultra-right wing, as it was in 1930s.

The Japanese military will take this opportunity to rearm and to by-pass their peaceful constitution. Another possibility is that, after rearming, there will be no obligation for the Japanese to tow the US line – meaning, they pay lip service to get what they want, and the other strong ally of the US, Australia will be left with the ‘baby’ alone.

The rearming of the Japanese military would not bring peace to the East Asia. The possible threat of nukes from Russia, China or North Korea would encourage the Japanese to also consider nuclear weapons. If that happens, a nuclear war that started in East Asia could escalate into a global nuclear holocaust. The arming of Australia with nuclear powered submarines and stationing of US B-52s with nuclear weapons capability, will make us a legitimate target if the nukes start flying.

Those service personnel who died in WW2 fighting against the Japanese would turn in their grave if they knew that their descendants were rearming Japan.

In the interest of world peace, the tension over Taiwan should be reduced. Then there would be no reason for any accelerated arm race or nuclear proliferation in the East Pacific. There is no threat to Australia from China. Why are we creating one?

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