With Japanese prime minister Abe’s conservative right-wing party winning majority control over both houses of parliament after this past Sunday’s upper house electoral victory, our assessment of relations with Japan has reached a critical cross-road. A reminder of a similar judgment call in the history of miscalculations may be apt.
Churchill and JFK
In 1938, Winston Churchill wrote a book entitled While England Slept, criticizing the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain-led British government, and lamenting the country’s lack of military preparedness against a secretly-arming Germany. The next year, Hitler’s Germany first claimed back the Rhineland from France without a fight, by brandishing military prowess that she was not meant to possess, and then rolled her tanks over Czechoslovakia. Shortly thereafter, Hitler brutally crushed Polish resistance and, with the steel mills confiscated from the Rothschilds in Czechoslovakia giving him much extra industrial capacity, overran Belgium, Holland and France.
Being that the Rothschilds had been the powerful patron throughout his public career, Churchill was careful not to criticize the international bankers. But both England and America’s relative lack of money credit during the Depression years, juxtaposed to that available to Germany during her miraculous rise from 1932-1937, would certainly have irked Churchill. (If you have a chance, read Bernanke’s book on the Great Depression).
In 1940, a young John F. Kennedy wrote his history senior thesis at Harvard, later published (with his father’s help) and re-titled Why England Slept. Sorting from his experience and contacts in London during his father Joseph P. Kennedy’s years as the US Ambasador there, Kennedy argued that an earlier showdown between England and Germany would have been more disastrous for the world. Not known for its scholastic merit as far as historical analysis was concerned, the book is generally regarded as an obvious apology for his father’s backing of Chamberlain’s appeasement policy and failing to report back to Roosevelt the real threat of Hitler’s Germany during his tenure as ambassador in England.
Had the leaders, their parties and delegates not committed what turned out, with the benefit of hindsight, to be colossal miscalculations about Hitler’s Germany (bankers, on the other hand, might have had different motivations and action-drivers), the world could have been spared the holocaust of WWII. Likewise, we must observe carefully and think cool-headedly with respect to the extraordinary behaviors of today’s Japan.
Ironically, history is about to put another Kennedy into a position that will potentially affect the destiny of war and peace. Named to be our next ambassador to Japan starting this September, JFK’s daughter Caroline will take up a special vantage point to assess the rise of right-wing militarism in the Land Of The Rising Sun.
Currently, the major faction in our foreign policy establishment and the entire military sector appear to have prevailed in the policy of treating Japan as an extension of our military installation to protect and preserve our national interest west of the Pacific. This is one of the corner-stones in our global geopolitical strategy, that of containing both Russia and a rising China from militarily breaching our East Asian encirclement. Leveraging Japan financially, technologically and industrially to “do part of our job” seems a no-brainer to these American simpletons. Given our diminishing means, both in financial and human resources and more importantly in national willpower, Japan can be a useful watchdog who can now be allowed to be our surrogate and do the military-equivalent chores of sweeping the floor, cutting the grass, watering the plants, repairing the roads, etc. etc. Except this is shirking our own responsibilities and it comes with potentially huge perils.
Will America Sleep?
In Tokyo, Caroline Kennedy should be well-prepared to study the following phenomena :
(1) In a highly-orchestrated program to white-wash Japan’s history text-books, the government has stepped up its efforts in recent years to expunge events from and “cleanse” accounts of the country’s role and behavior during World War Two. The younger the children, the more ignorant they are of Japan’s past crimes. Instead, in a recent poll, school children are found to be generally unaware of Japan’s role of aggression in WWII (PM Abe recently elaborated with the notion that “there is no strict definition of aggression” in academic history). And so, Japanese children have never heard of the massacre in Nanjing and the abusive deployment of sex slaves, for example. They learn that the country ventured “in and out” of other countries with a noble intention to create an East Asian Co-Prosperity Circle that was abruptly halted by the Americans with the use of atomic bombs for the first time in human history (the horrific effects on the bomb victims, however, are described in details, with strong suggestion that it was a criminal act). In other words, unlike Germany, Japan is not repentent and actually tries to re-establish militarist legitimacy, casting the US into the role of the suppressor.
(2) Despite strict limitations to a “self defense only” force under the post-war Constitution, it is well-known that the Japanese have managed to greatly accelerate its concealed weaponization programs. Without going into great details, I would suggest that Caroline check the following three aspects for herself, and make sure that she doesn’t have wools pulled over her eyes (as some of our military intelligence people may have). (a) First, ask for a true number of prematurely retired submarines and warships (for example, Japan is limited to approximately 18 active submarines under American monitoring, but their average retirement age is as short as 5 years, whereas a normal service period would be 20+ years). The Japanese naval fleet under the cover is many times bigger than those in active duty, and they still are very new and well-maintained but not counted as active. (b) Second, ask for a full accounting and explanation for the 40+ tonnes of radioactive plutonium and highly-processed nuclear materials that are only an eye-shadow away from being turned into weapon-grade warheads. Just the disclosed amount of this stockpile is estimated to be capable of churning out at least 9,000+ nuclear warheads. What for? And why do the nuclear power plants keep processing nuclear materials only to store them away, and keep processing more? For example, the earthquake-tsunami at the Fukushima plant showed us that only 1.5 of the 4 reactors were used to supply power, while 2 reactors were completely filled with processed plutonium fuel rods, that generally should have been properly disposed of. In other words, power plants are seemingly used to camouflage a potentially huge and brand-new nuclear weaponry program. (c) Third, ask about the scale and extent of Japan’s chemical and biological weapons programs. The answer will inevitably be that they are only doing “research”. But recently, they signed an agreement with Britain on chemical and biological weapons development. What is this all about? Remember that this is a country that had used both of these weapons on China and Asian countries extensively during WWII, and infamously used live human subjects to experiment with on their new biological weapons. To this day, they are proud to be leading the world technologically on this and other matters. (And what are the Brits up to?)
(3) Abe’s government is trying to repeal Japan’s Peace Constitution, which had placed restrictions on Japan legitimately building itself a military power-house. We are supposed to be their “parole officer” on behalf of the rest of the world after the WWII war crime trials, to keep them on a leash. Instead, we have progressively and deliberately loosened the leash on Japan over the years, hoping that she can pay for our defense costs and shoulder some of the responsibilities. This is dangerous wishful thinking. Abe is provoking territorial disputes with all her neighbours in order to force America’s hands in loosening her up and allowing her to be militarily “independent”. That’s why the right-wing politicians keep flaming popular sentiments that we are subjugating Japan and keeping her from enjoying her sovereignty as a “full” nation. In other words, we must not be short-sighted and looking only at our agenda. Right in front of us, the Japanese are deeply indoctrinated that, unless we do as they would want, we are the “bad guys”.
(4) For decades, Japan’s think tanks had been guiding the nation toward becoming World Number One sea power. They have done extensive studies and top the world in maritime science & technology. They have recently made formal application to the UN to claim vast areas of the Pacific as their exclusive economic and territorial zones (even building habitable “islands” out of reefs to establish plans to “settle”). Once they can brandish their considerable (and nuclear) military might, they will test our country’s will to oppose their entitlement to the seas. For Japan, even before the recent tsunami, there had been an overriding national anxiety that their four main islands are largely (scientifically) not suitable for habitat and development. Their invasion and immigration into Manchuria in 1930-45 was borne out of the same psychosis that they needed better living space and access to natural resources, especially after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. We have to ensure that the same phychosis does not take over this time.
(5) We must not underestimate the technological capabilities and industrial strength of Japan, even after her long economic slump. Japan filed more scientific patents annually than any other country in the world (including us). Caroline should dig deep into the social psychology of Japan’s elites in their military-industrial complex. After more than a decade of wholesale outsourcing of our defense industrial initiatives, we should begin to re-examine whether we have become at least partially inept and/or overly dependent on our foreign contractors, especially the Japanese. In particular, why do Japanese industrial elites customarily sneer at our weaponry technology as “SBJ” (meaning “supplied by Japan“)? Do we have a blind-spot here? In any case, we had better believe that Japan can really “roll it out” when the time comes. In Abe’s master plan to revive the economy, export sale of weaponry is a long-term central agenda (What? Compete with us? You bet.)
Meanwhile, China and Russia are not taking any chances. They are making sure that they will be militarily prepared, jointly if necessary, for a Japan ready to break out. If they manage to repulse a militarist Japan, are we going to be caught napping with an unleashed pitbull in our front yard whom we let loose and forget to de-Fang?
I hope Caroline Kennedy will not have to write Why America Slept.