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July 11th, 2011
Japan's About-Face
Introduction

Read the latest news and updates on Japan’s military.

About the Issue:
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution reads:

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. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

In the aftermath of World War II, Japan’s new pacifist constitution renounced the right to wage war and maintain military forces. Instead, Japan created the Self-Defense Forces with a strictly defensive mandate.

In recent years, though, the line between defense and offense has blurred. In 2004, Japan sent its Ground Self-Defense Forces to Iraq — the first deployment of Japanese soldiers in an active combat zone in over 60 years.

With North Korea test-launching ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan and China’s economic and military expansion, Japan has started reconsidering its regional strategy.

Today, Japan has a $40 billion military budget, the fifth largest in the world.

About the Film:
Japan’s About-Face is a remarkable window into the shifting role of the military in post-war Japanese society.

WIDE ANGLE has acquired unprecedented access to the National Defense Academy, Japan’s “West Point.” We follow Defense Academy cadets preparing for a future that may involve overseas deployment, and meet with a group of peace activists — some of them atom bomb survivors — on a grueling two month, 750-mile protest march from Hiroshima to Tokyo. We also witness joint maneuvers with the U.S. Marine Corps, a surveillance flight over the Sea of Japan, and the DDH Hyuga — the first Japanese aircraft carrier built since WWII.

Japan’s About-Face offers new insight into the future of Asian geopolitics.

  • Margaret

    Thank you for the show of “Japan’s About Face.” We are never really taught in school about the Asian world. What little we hear is always tainted. They also are thought of as somewhat of a mystery in their history and thoughts. You did a great job with this show. It was clear, and stuck to the topic. It also gave equal leverage to both sides of the conflict they are trying to work through. I would like to see more shows about Asian countries history and what they are thinking and doing now. Thank you.

  • Jeff Wilcox

    The PBS Wide-Angle program about Japan’s changing attitudes towards the need for a military force or as the Japanese call it a “self defense force” was well presented. The program gave me an introduction to an issue about which I knew very little. I can see how article nine of the Japanese constitution regarding the prohibition against maintaining a military is a matter of increasing importance for the Japanese people (though some seem to know very little about the “self defense force” that has been growing in recent years) because having a military versus not having one affects their position in an increasingly troubled world. I can understand how some Japanese want to ammend their consitition or otherwise introduce laws to allow a military force to legally exist, but I can also see the pacificst segment of society that wants to keep militarism at bay. It will be interesting to watch how Japan deals with this dilema as time goes on, and it behoves the US and the world to pay attention.

  • Gabe Pfeiffer

    You have hit the mark indeed. Thank you for tonight’s “Japan’s About Face.” I hope that Japan’s military, or SDF, can mature in a responsible manner and act in the best interest of Japan. Avoiding the potential to become an army for sale to America.

  • Earl Stanton

    The program was professional and extremely well done and informative. It was good to see Aaron Brown again. As always, PBS rules the airways.

  • Mr. Rodriguez

    I thank PBS for another educational piece of international concern and importance. First, Japan is only doing what, as a nation, it should do. Which is join other nations in defense-building. Second, as human beings, we need to move past Japan’s WWII militarism and move on to the present modernity. We can not nor should we allow ourselves to be contradictory or hypocritical of Japan’s military growth. Let’s look at its geopolitical position: North Korea, China, and other hostile areas. It should arm itself. But, at some future, as human evolve and mature, maybe, we can all work towards the drive for peace. This is not a practical view or practice. What rules in politics is power: Might is Right!

  • Tina

    This was my first time watching this program, and you have caught my attention. “Japan’s About-Face” was extremely informative. It couldn’t have been better. You balanced voices from both sides of the debate, and you gave historical background concisely. My father, who was raised in Taiwan, knows a bit about history in Asia and tends to pay attention to current affairs there. Every now and then he’ll tell me in conversation something about Japan. Today he walked into the room and ended up watching the episode with me. Afterward he said he knew about Japan’s constitution, and he believes that sooner or later it’s going to be changed.

  • Ben

    The program has always been professional produced and well regarded; long before the arrival of Mr. Brown. So long as the focus is on the issues at hand and not so much about the host, all will be fine.

  • Jennifer

    As a Korean-American the film was disturbing and made me nauseous, to say the least. In the film, “Japan’s About Face,” it claimed that the average Japanese was not aware that a self-defense site was in place (started in 1952). There were religious groups old enough to know the history of the Korean War who were protesting to keep Japan a “peace or antiwar” country, which I advocate. However, it’s a skewed perspective to the world of what Japan’s done to other countries militarily. It’s only been a little over fifty years now since my grandparents and parents experienced horrific treatment and military attack from the Japanese. So to watch the average Japanese comment on the streets that they are shocked they are in the process of forming a self-defense force is extremely disturbing. Their history books and elders did some great brainwashing.

  • Don Carder

    This program was disturbing. It wasn’t clear to what extent the Japanese support of Article 9 is based on the assumption that the U.S. will always aid them in defense of their country. My guess is that possibility has never entered the minds of most Americans. It was clear that the Defense Minister was worried about that.

  • Gary Starkweather

    Welcome Back Mr. Brown!! It was a total joy to see you again. The story was meaty and well presented.

    The SDF is just one more in a global blaze of hot irons waiting for a change in Washington.

    Thanks,

    Gary Starkweather and Pam Shaw
    Nanaimo, BC Canada

  • Harold Don

    America is helping Japan build up its military. Don’t forget that how Japan attacked America in the second WII. What goes around comes around. What America needs to do is not encouraging the defeated countries to become a new danger for the future wars, but to keep peace that we all need to cherish.

  • Marshall Bartlett

    The US imposed constitutional restriction against the use of force by Japan following WWII has crippled the Japanese (both the nation and its people) in a way that is difficult for the West to fully appreciate. Japan, as a nation, has a collective identity crisis precipitated and maintained by the fact that it is unable to fulfill the expectations of a normal member of the tribe of nation-states. Japan’s inability to “get back on the horse” prevents the nation from ever coming fully to terms with its own legacy and history (particularly its role in the wars of the first-half of the 20th century). Having lived in Japan, I think those who advocate for the peace constitution harbor a secret hope that the world will see the light and follow Japan’s example by laying down arms. This hope is admirable, but misplaced and misses the point. Japan will never come to terms with its own identity until it fully engages its fellow nations as a active participant in all aspects of international affairs. The risk of the misapplication of military power is the price of national maturity. Taking that risk is what is required for Japan to finally come to terms with itself and its history and to move forward as a nation.

  • Lisa

    In one of your speeches you said that we need to know WHY these things are important to know. Many of my WHYS were answered in this program. Things that were never learned in school. Another great and very informative program, Aaron. Two for two in my book on hitting the mark. I feel I’m going to learn alot this summer. Great to see you back on tv.

  • Steve Collier

    After watching the documentary, I was left feeling empty. I understand why and what they and many other countries must and are doing. My immediate thought during and at the end was how we spend so much money and time building up defenses and very little money and time building an atmosphere of peaceful means of solving problems, working toward avenues of promoting and sustaining a world of non violence, non aggression, non defense. What is wrong with this picture. We spend trillions on the finance and time for war and I don’t have figures, but I am sure it is minimum compared to the war efforts. This will never end and mankind has got to figure a better way. It’s like a bad marriage where we have developed a dependence on war because that is what we know best???? We will eventually end up blowing ourselves off this planet if we don’t change our mindset, now. Just like the environment issues.

  • Ron

    Having lived in Japan for years, I thought the program couldn’t have been better. Balanced, informative and very well explained.
    I disagree with Mr. Barlett’s previous post that Japan’s rearmament is required for them to come to terms with their history. It’s a difficult issue, of course, but one only has to look at Japan’s textbooks to be reminded of how far the country is from even acknowledging the atrocities that they committed at home and abroad in WWII. This revisionism that has gripped Japanese education and the push to rearm the country are most often advocated by those in Japan of a similar political stripe. Such politics are worrisome because they cast the shadow of a nationalism from 60 years ago.
    So what should be done instead? Simply put, the order Mr. Bartlett suggests should be reversed–come to terms with your past, then rearm. Without doing so, Japan will have the power to repeat the mistakes of the past and, frighteningly, will not have acknowledged the mistakes as such.

  • Wayne Parker

    I lived in Japan for about two years as a US Marine Corps officer during the 1990s and later served with the State Department’s Foreign Service in China and Taiwan. I mention this because I’ve watched this issue for some time professionally. That’s why I feel confident in writing that the program was so good and I’d love to see a follow on program some day. The US imposed constitution has greatly affected the Japanese nation and its people’s ability to deal with the great geopolitical changes occuring in the region over the last two decades or so. Pacifism was more or less forced upon the Japanese by their American occupiers. Given the Japanese people’s feelings at the time about the suffering they endured due to foreign military adventures pushed by the militarists that ran the country during the 1930s and 1940s, that pacifism was readily and understandably embraced by most Japanese. When the Cold War turned hot in Korea, the US pressured the Japanese to build up a nascent military force but by then the Japanese people had adopted pacificism so thoroughly that their politicians didn’t dare call their military what it was, hence the self-effacing “Self Defense Forces” moniker. Japan’s education system reinforced that pacifist tendency in society during the 1950s and 1960s and did much to convince the average Japanese that anything remotely military is morally “bad”. The issue now, as the Wide Angle program so clearly brought to light, is that the geopolitical dynamics that permitted the Japanese to rely on US military power to offset perceived threats from Asia while enjoying the luxury of pacificism no longer exist. China has begun to flex its muscle in a way that many Japanese, not just right-wing crazies, view as threatening and frightening. North Korea scares the average Japanese even more given their prior abduction of Japanese citizens and nuclear weapons program. While it would be nice to think that a pacificist stance will be feasible for Japan in the future, the reality is that pacifism did not stop the North Koreans from kidnapping Japanese citizens. Hence, many in Japan are starting to realize and some have openly stated that pacificism is no longer tenable. If some viewers didn’t pick up on it, there is also a sense among many Japanese that they need a military not because they want to be better allies of the United States but because they want to reduce their dependence on US military strength for their own security.

  • wheresbeef

    US letting Japanese have its full scale military implies that the relative power of US is declining so much that US has to use Japan’s unpredictable strength to balance the geopolitics in Asia-Pacific. As an ethnic Chinese, I am slightly troubled by and greatly concerned with its potential consequences. I believe everybody in the world should have reasons to be alerted.
    Frankly speaking, I fully understand Japan’s desire to have its own military. However, without addressing the deep militarism tradition in its elite classes who control the society, it is dangerous to let the military sway free. It could backfire even for the US. I feel sorry for the fact that US does not produce great statesmen anymore who have historical visions. Injecting steriod in Japanese military muscle is not a healthy thing for the interest of US, Asia, nor for the welfare of Japanese people. At least US should be helping cleanse the militaristic genes in Japanese culture, or try to foster the Christian value there…
    I think the party is open for everybody but you’d better clean your shits in the ass before you put on a new suit and dance with us.

  • Ron

    PS. For those interested in reading more on Article 9, the formation of Japan’s constitution and Japan in the wake of WWII, I recommend “Embracing Defeat” by John Dower. A great, great book.

  • Ramadan

    I’m afraid that current japanese military training will cause 3rd world war, because they are getting ready to face china which will result in the world’s man made desaster and affect the whole wolrd. If japan try to mess with china, things will get worse and wolrd world nucrlear nations will split into china and Japan. US has strong connection with Japan which will upset China and deteriorate US-Chinese relationship.

  • Tom

    It is important to remember that Japan’s large defense budget goes for two main things. First, the SDF fields mostly very very expensive domestically produced equipment and weapons. Japan does not export military equipment, so production runs are small. There is no economy of scale. Second, personnel costs are extremely high because the SDF is an all-volunteer force and a military career isn’t the top choice for most young Japanese. So they have to pay well. The end result is a very small, very expensive force that isn’t a threat to the outside world. As for a return of Japanese militarism, it is highly unlikely. What we are seeing is a slow turn away from the extreme (and often self-indulgent)pacifism that characterized Japanese culture since the end of WWII. It is wrong to equate a return of self-respect and patriotism with a rebirth of out-of-control nationalism and militarism.

  • wheresbeef

    By letting Japan loose without detoxifying its militarism venom, US is putting itself in a awkward, if not dangerously stupid position. I am curious to see how US will maintain both S. Korea and Japan as its allies. BTW, if you never heard of I’d like to remind you are S. Korea and China is being Christianized fairly quickly. Japan respects and obeys crashing power. Please pray US would be superpower forever. If Japan even refuses to officialy apologize to the Asians for its war crime, nor teach their youth the real history, good luck in hoping they forgive the 2-A bombs. Believe me, if militarism rampages in Japan again, the two Koreas will be unitied, Koreans and and Chinese will build up their nuke arsenal in no time. A local nuke war will be very possible. I do not know much about wold politics but I am sure the Chinese people will not take chance this time.

  • wheresbeef

    Tom: I kinda feel you are too optimistic. Wish I were wrong. I guess your 30-year long neighbors may know you better than your relatives who visit you only once a year.
    Something in the back of my mind tells that US is training another taliban, the difference is it may become one hundreds of thousands times larger someday. US military cannot even take care of a bunch of stone-age militias in Afghanistan… What if things become ugly in Japan? Right now the world is fairly peaceful and balanced. However, US politicians are playing a dangerous game: you are alienating Koreans, irritating Russians, and annoying Chinese… did you search the soul of Japan? do you have a plan B before you push the giant weights like China to the other end? Taliban knocked down two buildings killing about 3k including 30 Chinese and US wracked two nations. What if you were in the shoes of Asians victimized by Japan?
    Did you how many Asians (mainly Chinese) did they killed? Did you how many chemical bombs Japanese dumped in Chinese oil? Do you know the scale of Japanese germ and chemical warfare? Do you know how history is taught in Japan?
    http://www.skycitygallery.com/japan/japan.html
    China as a nation forgave Japan’s war crimes but without official apology from Japan and educating its youth about the real history, the wound wills never heal. Anybody who dares to tear them open should have a second thought.

  • Marshall Bartlett

    I appreciate Ron’s comments on my former post. He suggests that the Japanese must fully acknowledge and internalize responsibility for the Japan’s atrocities during the military misadventure of the early 20th century before they rearm. My point is that the two are inseparably connected – this is not a “this first and then that” scenario. Until Japan permits itself the full responsibility and power attending a full member of the international community it will not be capable of addressing its past actions in any realistically mature way. Rearmament is not just being driven by the interest of regional geopolitical considerations; it is increasingly recognized as a necessary step in order for Japan to mature as a nation. The rest of the world should encourage that maturity by recognizing that the Japan of today is not the Japan of the 1920s and 30s.

  • jack

    I think the people who are opposed to Japan having a legitamate armed forces, need to get over it. I seriously do not see Japan as a militaristic state, nor do I see it ever attacking anyone ever again. But I do see Japan’s need for defence, with the growth of China’s military and the threat from North Korea. There has to be deterrence in that part of the world.

  • Kevin

    What a fantastic program. As someone who has trained with Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force and visits Japan a few times a year, I was pleased to see a lot with which I was familiar, but even more interested in seeing some things to which I hadn’t been exposed: the National Defense Academy, the All-Japan Defense Association, some of the rhetoric in the Diet, etc. Thanks for an informative, objective, and interest-holding program.

  • Gordon

    I agree that Japan should have an office military that can protect its interest. This program did a good job in presenting Japanese perspectives. However, I don’t think that this program has present a complete picture about whether Japan should have a formal military without restrictions. One example is the comment made by one of the top graduating cadet about annexation of Korea. He talked about the difference between the Korean version and Japanese version of the event. This little segment highlighted the issue that explains why other Asian nations are so uncomfortable about Japanese military power. Japan has never formally offer apology to the victims of WWII and to this day, many Japanese are still questioning the terrible deeds commited by Imperial Japanese army during WWII. There were many cases that someone had changed the facts about WWII in the textbooks that are being used in schools. I think that if Wide Angle truely wants to present a wide angled view of this issue, it should also present the views from other Asian nations that had suffered before.

  • Xiang Zhuang

    It sent a chill down my spine when watching the Japanese Defense Minister carefully described a scenario where it “may be allowable” for SDF to shoot first, as would most of the south east Asians whose countries suffered the WWII Japanese invasion (Hmmm, isn’t it interesting this word was never used in the program?). The striking resemblance when compared to the plot played out by Japanese Army during Marco Polo Bridge Incident remains me what Japan is capable of doing. And am I glad that USA pawing Japan down is not the only thing preventing my country from being invaded again!

  • Wayne Parker

    Wheresbeef’s comments and attitudes are good examples of why the historical issues play such an important role in the debate within Japan about rearming and how they are affecting the policy debate in Japan. It all comes down to perceptions of past wrongs and future threats. Many mainland Chinese still harbor fears that a resurgent and armed Japan will become a threat, or at least a rival, to China. No one at this point can really say whether those fears are justified or not. Even if one accepts that Japan could do a better job at handling the issue of wartime atrocities (and I for one think they could do a much better job of it), it’s very clear to any objective person that the repeated criticisms by the Chinese government is nothing more than attempts to shame the Japanese government and people and to affect policy decision making in Japan. That there are elements within Japanese society that hold extreme right-wing views of Japan’s conduct during WWII is undeniable. But such extreme right-wing sentiment is currently held only by a small, noisy fringe element with little political power and varying degrees of empathy by a slightly larger constituency within the Japanese political mainstream. Japan has apologized or expressed regret several times for its wartime atrocities. Repeated Chinese complaints of Japan’s perceived unwillingness to acknowledge wartime atrocities and related issues, however, have had the affect of making the Japanese government and many Japanese citizens less willing to accept criticism for events that occurred over sixty years ago. Most Japanese today weren’t even alive during the war and repeated criticism has had the effect of hardening some Japanese attitudes on a host of issues. That shift in some Japanese citizens’ attitude has had the unintended consequence of many Japanese implicitly – and in some cases tacitly – supporting a larger role for the Japanese military in the region.

  • wheresbeef

    If most Japanese and some of Americans think it is OK to let Japan have a full scale military without before cleansing Japan’s ultranationalism elements as Germany did and they do not care the unpredictable consequences, I would say bring it on. The 5000-year old Chinese civilization has survived all kinds of brutal conquers by including Huns, Mongols, Tartars, Japanese…I do not think Chinese people do not have the wisdom and will power to survive, if not triumph another time. As a matter of fact, it may be a good opportunity to make things straight (like Britain firebombed Dresden for German bombing of London, Russia conquered and split Germany, or America firebombed Tokyo and nuked its two cities) and true peace between China and Japan will eventually come (like true peace between Britain and German, Russia and German, US and Japan).
    Unfortunately both sides and probably all the world may have to pay a heavy price. Well, if it is unavoidable, I guess it is just another price history asks we the human-being to pay before we learn to be smarter.
    Bring it on.

  • Kaz Takahashi

    “An illegitimate child.” Many Japanese share this sentiment over our own Self Defense Force. We use the term to describe a child living in shadow, or shame.

    Given the quality and quantity level of their equipments, there is no doubt that our SDF is a military force that our current constitution prohibits with its 9th article, no matter how we put it with legal technicality.

    We, however, feel that we, realistically, need it to secure our independence, to protect our national interests over our territory and the business interests of fishing industry.

    Historically we have been having numerous number of disputes over the border, especially with Russia. Normally our Coast Guard intervenes those situations, but when the disputes heat up to volatile confrontation, bigger armed muscle speaks, unfortunately.

    The best, most, and perhaps only welcome works done by SDF are its rescue operations. Their well-organized and highly trained collective efforts, though it is almost nothing to do with their military capability or high-tech weapons, their manpower is invaluable for rescue missions, nationally, and now internationally. The roughly 70% of nation’s land is mountainous with its can-be unstable monsoon climate, and is infamously earthquake prone. Natural disasters are inevitable. The SDF are far more frequently deployed for the rescue missions in natural disasters, than its armed ones. It is our useful and helpful child.

    Some wants things to straight up as it should be, by changing our constitution. Many are reluctant to legitimate the illegitimate child even though we feel like cheating. We choose to live with the dilemma because the memories of our empirical military haunt us like a ghost. We know that having a military is not the answer to solve international disputes, but probably the prelude of never-ending arm race, which satisfy only the merchants of death.

    The program was an excellent report on SDF, but failed to address the real driving forces advocating to change our pacifist constitution are.

    Thank you for make us, an almost invisible nation, more visible, at least in the US. Please keep up with your good work.

  • Jack

    I understand the feelings that some Chinese might feel towards Japan. But that was a LONG time ago. The government of Japan is not the ultranationalists of the 1930’s. Hence Japan will not have a war of aggression that they had during WW2. I think the real threat is the unchecked and under reported rise of China’s military. I think that Japan has every right to defend itself.

  • KidB

    Wayne Parker is correct – this constant berating that Japan has to take for its past is misplaced and counterproductive. Look at all the damage Britian, France, and the Dutch caused in East Asia, long before Japan ever sent a single soldier there, and no one’s telling those countries that they can’t have a military. If totalitarian states like China and North Korea are armed (and they are!), then free and democratic Japan certainly should be.

    The “gene of militarism” can be found in all human societies. To suggest that it is unique to the Japanese is naive, and more than a little racist.

  • primal convoy in Japan

    Hi,

    I just watched this online and I will email the url of the video for some of my Japanese English students to watch. I wonder if a Japanese language version of this is available in some form in Japan?

  • DEE

    I have read all your comments and I think all of you have some legitimate point or another. But I would like for us to look at Japan from this perspective that people even nations make mistakes and I think they can learn from it. If anyone denies that point I would like to point to the mistakes of the previous generations of Americans of wiping out the natives, enslaving people of other races and wiping Heroshima and Nagasaki off the face of the map. I believe these were mistakes made by the previous generations of American that is still hard for us, in this generation, to admit as mistakes. But has the USA been a force for good in recent times (specifically, after WWII)? I believe the answer is resoundingly YES. Though we uses some questionable means to achieve our ends of winning the cold-war. This is what I want any American to think about when looking back to the issue of Pearl Harbor, however painful the memories may be. I would also wish that other Asians will look at the big picture of the present stategic map of Asia.

    1) Japan is a democratic country
    2) China is a Communist country
    3) Japan has substansial technological, industrial, and manufacturing capital
    4) China has some but not as much as it wants.
    5) China has shown that it would like to become a superpower one day (a communist country)
    6) The USA is the only country providing Nuclear deterrance for its allies in Asia.
    7) If for any reason the USA is no longer able to properly propect its allies, specifically Japan, S.Korea and Taiwan. Those countries can be blackmailed into a stategic alliance by either China, Russia or N.Korea

    This would mean that their technological, industrial, manufacturing and monitary infrastructure will go to strenghtening a peer-competitor (Russia or China) which is not democratic and may be hostile to the USA, its other neighbors and the world.

    Also, I think that many Japaneese haven’t truely considered the geopolitical picture and realized that their country may be in a precarious position not only visa-ve N.Korea, but with the issue of China and Russia.
    Their country is also not a member of NATO, so the nuclear deterrence provided by the USA is not as strong as the one provided for Western Europe. Where there was a policy of Nuclear sharing (if a war occurs the USA will transfer Tactical weapons to NATO countires). Even still, the UK and France still opted to build their own minimal nuclear deterrance.

    What I am saying is this, the Japanese people can not wish these problems away and the idea that if Japan remains peaceful it will not have enemies does not stand up to the test of history. Sweden, Norway and Finland were neutral at the onset of WWII and Hitler still attacked and occupies them because of their industrial infrastructure.

    Japan and the other East Asian powers should not allow themselves to become a case study of what a wealthy, economically powerful country should not do.

    I personally believe that the Democratic countries in Asia should be armed to the fullest extent, not just because of the shortterm problem that North korea poses, but the longer term problem posed by China and Russia.

  • Steve

    I recently spent a year in Japan teaching English. The debate over changing Article 9 of the Constitution was quite lively. However, I got the distinct impression that my students had no idea that Japan has the fifth largest defense budget in the world. I did not. Your program certainly helped me understand just how far the country has moved in its very real struggle with this issue. This is a real struggle for the Japanese young and old. They remember all to well how WWII ended. Since I taught in Hiroshima, my students were probably even more sensitive to this matter.

    The Japanese are a very hard working and pragmatic people and will determine what course will best serve their interests. They have a rich history and culture to draw upon. I hope they choose to create and maintain a strong military to counter the increasing power of some of their neighbors. However, I’m not sure they will choose that course.

    In any case, your program was great!

    Thank you.

  • ricecake

    If China stepped forward and forgave Japan’s invasion, then the situation in Northeast Asia would improve greatly. It’s unfortunate that for such a large and powerful nation with a rich history, China has a heart of a chichken.

    Japan sees an insecure neighbor who is arming up quickly. When the time comes for China to replace the US as the wealthiest and the strongest on Earth, will it start harassing Japan and chipping away on Japan’s territory? As the defense minister said, there has to be a deterrence.

  • Adam Kaffers

    Mr. Rodriguez, Steve, and Ricecake have made some fundamental errors in their comments and made remarks that make them evidently bias against China. As a historian, I feel a need to point out the need to keep the facts straight. The Empire of Japan waged a war of annihilation and conquest against its Asian neighbors, starting in 1937, in order to expand its borders and gather resources needed for sustaining its growing population. The Empire used a variety of methods to prop up its reasons for military aggression by using false pretenses like the bombing of a railway in Manchuria and the Dragon bridge near Beijing. These facades weren’t accepted as legitimate reasons by the League of Nations – thus the Japanese Government to withdraw due to the unsatisfactory results. Over the many years leading up to the end of WWII, the Japanese military treated their fellow Asians in the most inhumane way; a good example of Japanese brutality and the most infamous war crime is the Nanjing Massacre, where well over 250,000 Chinese civilians were senselessly murdered by Japanese troops, who had been given strong resistance during their campaign to conquer China. Japan committed similar crimes throughout Asia, including, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other places across the Pacific Rim. Therefore it’s not very surprising for Asian countries like China and South Korea to have strong fear and objections to remilitarizing Japan. It occurs to me that Japan could have gotten all the things that they set their eyes on without war and arms. The attitude of Ricecake and Steve (who are obviously Japanese) are misplaced and ignorant when they put any blame on their country’s victims – in addition they represent the attitude of most Japanese people whom refuse to recognize the past crimes they committed.

  • ed

    in addition to adam kaffers’ comment, it should be noted that japan has engaged in conquests of china and korea as early as the 1590’s, not just 1937. it should also be noted that at the end of these invasions that took place in the 1590’s, korea suffered the most loss including scholars, tradesmen, and scientists who were captured and taken to japan. much of korean culture and technology were assimilated by the japanese, these included pottery, textiles, medicine, and smelting.

  • ricecake

    Adam Kaffers, I’ve never stated any facts on the history other than that Japan invaded China, so you needn’t correct any errors on my part. What Japan did during the early parts of the twentieth century is unjustifiable, but it baffles me that you label me as an ignorant Japanese; somehow I sense a rather strong conviction and a bias in your attitude.

    Also, if you are a historian, then you are not doing a good job at that; Japan has given numerous apologies over the invasion of its Asian neighbors, and it is open about its past wrongdoings.

    And your claim about most Japanese who “refuse to recognize the past crimes they committed” is stupid, because it’s not them who committed the crimes; it’s their ancestors. And you completely fail to back up your accusation against the Japanese people by providing no evidence whatsoever, contrarily to how you brought up the whole history of Japan’s past barbarism.

    ed, I would point out that Yuan China, along with Korea, invaded Japan in the thirteenth century; and they even did it twice. Both of their attempts failed, though.

  • peace

    Apology for their war crimes:

    German way of Apology Dec. 7, 1970

    http://www2.facinghistory.org/Campus/Memorials.nsf/0/DC396F572BD4D99F85256FA80055E9B1

    Japanese way of Apology Aug. 15, 2006

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/16/world/asia/16japan.html

  • peace

    War Crimes ??? NOT by Japan’s Standards

    http://english.donga.com/srv/service.php3?biid=2006021644468

    Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, one of the strongest candidates for the next Japanese Prime Minister, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso have claimed that Japanese Class-A war criminals are not actually criminals according to Japanese civil law…….

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